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X-com, Ufo Defense, A Great Game, A Poor Saga.


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#1 Admiral Harkov

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Posted 21 September 2004 - 10:29 AM

This is the phrase that describes best the situation about X-COM. If you tak UFO Defense and play it you will find a great game, a perfect game that would be the one God would've created. Anything you find in it that some people has complaint about, are just secondary features, and so are considered by the "complainers", who admit it as one of the best games if not the best ever.
But the saga... is absolutely disappointing. First you find a sequel, a second part, which fails as continuation and as story. It's just make a second part which should be nothing more than an add-on to the original. The gameplay is exactly the same; the story pretendind to be the continuation of the previous one lacks interest, getting you through exactly the same process that you had to pass in the previous version. Even the elerium is there, now called zrbite.
And then it comes the third part, the Apocalypse. Now you abandon the sea, not as the only environment, but completely quit it. Now you have not the planet Earth... because you have just one lonely city. The aliens now come from... another dimension! And your mission is beat them ,of course, and you defeat them... oh, no! you have to kill a third queen bee in third time. Now you're constrained the space and the time, before you had a planet, now you have a city; years ago your progress time was measured in weeks and months, now your progress time is measured in hours, which emphasizes the fictionality of the story.
In Apcalypse you have a bunch of graphical improvements and gameplay... But the aliens have lost all the charm of the sectoids in the first part, and you get some childish anthropods and toyish spitters. And what is even worse, they're unarmed, the try to fight you spitting, the only living beings that eat plasma rifle magazines.
Ya-hoo!! That one seems in pan... Huh?! But... IS THIS POSSIBLE???!! IT DOESN'T RUN IN PANIC, NOR TRY TO HIDE OR MAKES HIMSELF A LITTLE FRIGHTENED BALL, THERE IS... A GREEK THEATRE SAD MASK DRAWN OVER ITS HEAD!!!!!!! How in the heck can you pretend to bring the game simulational, graphic and gameplay improvements when you use such old fashioned resources??? That is a shame.
And also, the mankind has or it's supposed it has to have been able to expand in the Universe, and all that you have to worry about is a single city. Yeah, I understand it's in Earth, the only one in Earth and so very special to you, but that can't be accepted.
Next in the first try to really advance in the saga is Interceptor, which I haven't play and I fear it's just a space combat simulator with less story than any of the Star Wars counterparts. And Aftermath, which I don't know at all but it seems it's again a tactical game about combat.

Here is the evolution it should have passed if the saga would want to be able to match as saga the perfection that the first part had as a game.
You have UFO Defense as it is, maybe adding the add-on of underwater fights. You beat the brain, you lose elerium with time, but as it's done in Apocalypse, too late, you state that the world finds a way, if not to ellaborate elerium, at least to produce a substitute that permits the mankind extend to the whole Solar System and colonize Mars and maybe some other planet and may be some small colonies at some other places But you can't do interestellar travels. In that time the failure of the invasion force has arrived to the home world of the brains (by the way, Futurama has a chapter with brains as destructive beings in the Universe, it seems :master: Matt Groening is a XCOM player), and they send another force, now it's stronger. It has a big mothership, more battleships, upgraded ships, they surely have evolved, too.
They send a scout group of ships that may be shooted down and that's is the way you know you must prepare for defending yourself, they establish a base in the Solar System, not in the Solar System, but in the nearest one and you catch some activity as they send some small UFOs to scout and some infiltration attempt, to learn how humanity has evolved in the time passed since their last report about it, or they blast out some of the outer colonies humankind has in the Solar System, and like the second option, they have a base in another system near ours.
Now you don't have a small group of squads, a few crafts and a small budget. You have a decently grown up army with divisions and so, a full group plenty of spacefighters squadrons. Now you don't go to a small combat area with twelve soldiers and one tank. You get to big battles in strategial areas of space or planets, where you use divisions, brigades, air support... or space carriers, destroyers and fighters. You lose when you lose the war, not funding that you have for sure, you lose your entire army, los control of your bases or all the strategical areas of space and planets. You win finding the way to build interestellar spaceships and sending, not one with a squad, but a complete set of batallions, divisions, fighters, bombers, carriers, transports, supply ships, what you consider needed to their base and destroy it. In the process mankind learns how to travel to other systems and even galaxies.
The third part would maintain this part, but now you can manage big militar operations or small fights like you had in the first time. Because now you have found the home world of those brains and you want to destroy their empire and convert them in harmless beings that live in a planet from where they won't exit anymore.
And that would be the end of the saga, it would not convert in the efforts of a company to exploit the success of a great game, but in the story of how an alien empire, who tried to conquist who they shouldn't get whipped out by the human reaction.

Edited by Admiral Harkov, 21 September 2004 - 10:33 AM.


#2 Snakeman

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Posted 21 September 2004 - 11:07 AM

I understand what you mean. Just looking at the progression of 1, 2, and 3, it seems as though we should have more control over bigger areas in another sequal. By part 3 we've already started to colonize space and had found places to mine elerium, stands to reason those areas need protection.

Although as appealing as it would be to command ever larger brigades, by that point it probably wouldn't be such a good idea to micromanage what your men carry (or at least not all of them). Instead I think to give the illusion your fighting in an ever increasing arena (other planets and such with regard to battlescape) I imagine all you'd need are more maps. With regard to the Geoscape, perhaps its function could remain the same, whether Earth is represented, or any number of other "colony" worlds you could zoom in on from a big starmap by clicking on a colony "star".

As to funding, I think your right, after a number of years have passed fighting the aliens, it should go away if not take a different turn. Maybe it could go by world then, instead of country funding, or corporate funding. If your commanding a larger force from the start of this kind of game, then you shouldn't see the same kind of silly funding amounts as seen with country funding or corporate, but rather much larger chunks going by a percentage of colony GDP or something to make the funding worth something.

Keeping with this strategic feel, I believe any interception stage or navigational movements on any given Geoscape view or "space" navigation overview should remain relatively simple.

Heh, I know some of this probably sounds like Master of Orion or those types of games, but some of those did have decent examples of an overview type map that encompassed your entire territory or that highlighted fleets of yours out of it. Anyway, I'd prefer any focus still remain battles on the ground no matter how it evolved in this light. X-COM's strengths I feel lay there.

#3 j'ordos

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Posted 21 September 2004 - 12:56 PM

by the way, Futurama has a chapter with brains as destructive beings in the Universe, it seems :master: Matt Groening is a XCOM player

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Maybe.
Or, he has seen this film: The Brain from Planet Arous ^_^
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#4 Guest_alex the greater_*

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Posted 21 September 2004 - 02:08 PM

i havent played xcom 3 or 4
but i aggrey tftd S U C K S maby if it was a expanshion pack for xcom1 and made sence than i would like it

#5 Paladin

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 05:58 AM

Hehe... ^_^ less story than the StarWars games... Very true, especially with your avatar, Harkov O:)

Seriously, though (considering we're discussing a game), I agree the XCOM franchise have been just that, a franchise... They simply made the best game of all times, then they cloned it to invent a sequel out of nowhere, and tried to patch togheter another with small innovations but at the cost of beleivability... Even if they were manga-style sometimes, the XCOM1 & 2 graphics were believable... Apocalypse's were far too retro to be taken seriously...

:idea: Hey!! Harkov, Why not make a Space Empires IV (or V) Mod for this, that might do the job of a real, intergalactic sequel!!!
"You're just jealous because the voices in my head only talk to me."

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#6 SupSuper

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 08:23 AM

the saga's story is kinda like the Aliens saga story. each individual Aliens movie is special in its own way, but the way they make the story connect all the movies is... crappy. the same applies to x-com.
most of the times sequels don't have a good story because what matters most is to continue the series as players want. it's hard to make sequels that still connect to the story because when they make the first one, they don't plan (usually) for the story to need to be continued and sequels to be made. thus why each game in a saga usually has either the same story slightly modified or completely different ones. and usually storylines are more important in other types of games or movies :)

too bad, now you will never know the ancient secrets of supsupers long gone avatar ;)

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#7 Paladin

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 10:45 AM

Yep, but it would be real nice if we were to build on that and get a stronger storyline up and running, so that future versions of Xenocide could incorporate them ^_^
"You're just jealous because the voices in my head only talk to me."

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then I have to write it down so it doesn't corrupt the rest of my brain.. "

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There is another which states that this has already happened.
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#8 stewart

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 10:51 AM

I'd like to see an Xcom1 Mod for Xcom 2. Tha'd be cool!
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#9 Admiral Harkov

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 11:18 AM

Fro mthe film page j'ordos pointed, slightly changed:

John Agar ....  Landon
Joyce Meadows ....  Captain Markovitch
Robert Fuller ....  Davis
Thomas Browne Henry ....  Williams
Ken Terrell ....  Commander Illyuschenko
Henry Travis ....  Colonel Johnson
E. Leslie Thomas ....  Colonel Jackson
Tim Graham ....  Vaughn
Bill Giorgio ....  Colonel Boronin
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Dale Tate ....  Dr Eva Johannes


Maing a mod? I don't know if I were able to, plus I don't know space empires... I'm not a "gamer"

Edited by Admiral Harkov, 22 September 2004 - 11:23 AM.


#10 Paladin

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 12:52 PM

Hmm, then why are you interested in XCOM in the first place ? :huh?:
Then again, I don't have the time to be one either... :D
"You're just jealous because the voices in my head only talk to me."

"I only think this stuff up ..
then I have to write it down so it doesn't corrupt the rest of my brain.. "

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another which states that this has already happened.
-Douglas Adams (The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy)"

#11 Admiral Harkov

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Posted 23 September 2004 - 10:13 AM

:huh?: :huh?: My trickster phrase? Well, I'm speaking sectoid! :psychosanta:

#12 Paladin

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Posted 23 September 2004 - 11:11 AM

hehehe... ^_^
"You're just jealous because the voices in my head only talk to me."

"I only think this stuff up ..
then I have to write it down so it doesn't corrupt the rest of my brain.. "

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another which states that this has already happened.
-Douglas Adams (The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy)"

#13 Chris StarShade

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 09:57 AM

The idea in Interceptor and Apocalypse is that X-COM has expanded to such an extent that governing the entire organization is too big a job for a 'little man'

Thus, you are put in charge of a sub-group of X-COM. Your title is 'Commander' but you (theoretically) answer to the 'Supreme Commander.' This is how it is in Interceptor and in Apocalypse.

Personally, I think it would have been fun to have an X-COM game where after you repel the aliens, you go to Mars to discover that they are in more places than just Cydonia, so you find yourself setting up base camp on Mars, and pretty much taking the war to the MULTIPLE Martian bases.

And then after that's taken care of, figure out the rest.

I agree that it would have been fun to deal with the aquatics and the originals in the same game at the same time. Especially would have been nice to send an interceptor or a firestorm after an airborn flying sub, and then send a squat team using plasma weapons and thermal lances after them and equipped with flying suits.


Hmm... a little message saying "Cannot Engage Submerged Target" would have been delightful if you absentmindedly sent an Avenger after an aquatic Dreadnought.

It would have been a little weird to track Aquanauts and Soldiers seperately, but it might have been fun too. Then there's the question: What happens to the poor aquanaut in the Flying Suit on the Triton when it's going on an aquatic mission?

The answer: He gets stuck in a normal diving suit because of the Flying Suits ineffectiveness in water.

As far as I am concerned, either type, Aquatic Force or Standard Force should be able to deal with surface missions, but only the aquatic force should be able to deal with aquatic missions.

My thought on this note:

Start with 'Standard' X-COM. Then, after the first Alien Base has been dismantled (or after the first battleship is shot down or the first Base Assault has been repulsed) then the aliens wake up their aquatic brethren and a month later an Aquatic Terror Site goes off. X-COM goes to investigate in a Skyranger and finds the aquatic forces. After an autopsy of one of the Aquatics, a new research Topic: The Aquatic Menace becomes available. After the end month report for the month when the Aquatic Menace is complete, the Contract with British Hydrospace is complete, and X-COM can begin implementing underwater bases and pulling off the TFTD stunts simultaneously with the UFO Defense stunts.

The most confusing part to implement, in my opinion, would be to combine the two. Imagine original X-COM soldiers equipped with Sonic Cannons and Thermal Lances! Imagine the TFTD Aquanauts bringing Blaster Launchers on their surface missions!
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#14 Guest_alex the greater_*

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 10:44 AM

if you inclued tftd elaments remaber to alow solders to swim

#15 Snakeman

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 01:13 PM

Nice ideas Chris. I especially like the idea of combining the first two titles as one, and from those revelations in those plots, discovering that the aliens are trying to regroup on Mars and then going there to make a few toe hold bases of your own . Then like you say, while taking them on at Mars, discovering more details about the aliens' objectives elswhere in or out of our system. On top of this, it might be interesting for awhile to be contending with the aliens in all three environments (til you knock out whatever the next alien brain equivalent it is).

I think the major hurtle here is probably in art assets (more maps, and probably a new Geoscape view for Mars, or even if there was a different overlay to show the underwater definables, then there's any tech that is distinguishable from being on land, sea, and in space)

I like the thought of visiting many varied locales as you progress through this kind of plot. I wonder too if there could be a mission type that's more investigative in nature i.e. finding a crucial bit of information important to your survival, or even your independence from Earth funding -- Maybe later on Mars they find a cashe of [elerium] that subsequently allows the planet to speed up its progress toward space travel -- Leading into a bit of the Apoc storyline here. You could explain X-COMs semi-autonomy here because they'd control most of the elerium flow to start out before the mining company stuff from Apoc kicked in. Anyway, interesting possibilities here.

I say semi-autonomy here only cause there were periods where X-COM had to downsize between the major conflicts, but they had to have a skeleton service around to watch over the tech that wasn't going to government or civ usage. Perhaps this could be illustrated in the game too, where you'd have to tightly manage the number of bases you could operate. Early on, the countries funding might have been relatively generous, allowing you to build multiple bases on land, sea and on Mars, but then it starts to dry up and force you (for a small time frame until the next major alien push) to manage with less and to prioritize what bases remain for minimal operations (i.e. like maybe one or two in each major setting).

You could introduce this near the end of each phase (when land combat on Earth seems to dwindle to a crawl, then picks up for sea a bit, dwindles there too, then picks up again for Mars). I'd still want to see some simultaneous alien incursions for all three settings though, but its the alien activity flow I'd regulate here along with funding for base operations in the down peaks.

edit: Sorry again, this seems more like a laboratory post, although it seemed to fit here since we're talking about plot progression (inevitably ideas will spill out :))

Edited by Snakeman, 26 September 2004 - 01:22 PM.


#16 Paladin

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 08:21 AM

I like the idea that it took years for the aquatic aliens to "wake up" from stasis and organise... a month is, like, a bit too drastic...
Besides, it made sense to have 50 more years of technological advances in order to have the flying subs...
Besides, what I'd have anticipated to see in Tftd, would be entire underwater cities, if underwater technology have progressed this much, there must be a reason or new opportunities open to us IMHO.
"You're just jealous because the voices in my head only talk to me."

"I only think this stuff up ..
then I have to write it down so it doesn't corrupt the rest of my brain.. "

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another which states that this has already happened.
-Douglas Adams (The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy)"

#17 Chris StarShade

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Posted 07 October 2004 - 09:26 AM

Underwater cities were a romantic idea for their day, but there is one big question to be answered:

Who wants to live in an underwater city?

At present, such places would only be able to "harvest tourists" and hence, an underwater city would probably have an economy comparable to Orlando FL.

There has to be a decent reason for the city's existence before anyone does anything like that. An underwater mining operation, for instance.
Psionics? Bah! Glorified staring contest.

#18 Snakeman

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Posted 07 October 2004 - 05:06 PM

Yeah, when all else fails, steal ideas from other stories like the Abyss :) I mean hey, they had a reason right there. Continued reliance on oil. Not that unreasonable given the time frame, and considering the fact the world at large doesn't know you exist, and therefore can't benefit from your research too soon (all yer energy considerations for one). They're just trying to maintain their energy status quo for oil in their "ignorance is bliss" state.

When the energy benefits do present themselves from your efforts, hey, there's all that submerged ready-made real estate in the form of ex-mining colonies to mess with. Fairly simple to weave it in the plot from that point I think.

#19 Paladin

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Posted 12 October 2004 - 06:37 AM

Yeah, I like the idea :P
"You're just jealous because the voices in my head only talk to me."

"I only think this stuff up ..
then I have to write it down so it doesn't corrupt the rest of my brain.. "

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another which states that this has already happened.
-Douglas Adams (The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy)"

#20 Gurluas2000

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 01:57 AM

seriously i like tftd and ufo... the rest is just...

boring.

#21 Paladin

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 07:41 AM

Yeah, We all felt the urge to put our first XCOM bas... right at home (even for those living in Australia, one of the most tactically un-wise and impractical places to build your first base).

The gripping feeling that you're defending current-days earth is what made it so fun :P
"You're just jealous because the voices in my head only talk to me."

"I only think this stuff up ..
then I have to write it down so it doesn't corrupt the rest of my brain.. "

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another which states that this has already happened.
-Douglas Adams (The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy)"

#22 Gurluas2000

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 12:44 AM

i thought interceptor were bad, but when i tried it... it appeared to br quite good,buildings bases in space, space simulator system,
ufo paedia etc.
believe me its worth a try, the only bad thing is that the interface is hard to control....
but once youd know it, you surely sends probes to find alien base and blast em off galaxy.