10 Nisan 2012 Salı

XCOM Enemy Unknown

Efsane oyun XCOM Enemy Unknown 2K Games tarafından tekrar çıkartılıyor. Orijinal oyunun remake'i olacak olan oyunun 2012 sonbaharında çıkması bekleniyor. Oyunun websayfasına buradan ulaşabilirsiniz.

Aşağıdaki videoda oyunun geliştiricilerinin yorumlarını ve oyun içinde combat'ın nasıl olacağını görebilirsiniz.

Bu görüntüleri görünce sonbahara kadar nasıl dayanacağız bilemiyorum.

Bu arada orijinal oyunun yaratıcısı olan Julian Gollop ile bir röportaj yapmışlar, çünkü 2K Games'in projesinden proje duyurulana kadar haberdar olmamış ve dolayısıyla projeye de dahil değil. Kendisine yenisi hakkında öncelikle ne düşünüyor diye sormuşlar...aşağıda okuyabilirsinizi (Yazıyı vakit darlığından türkçeleştiremedim, biri yaparsa burada onu da yayınlarım). Orijinal sayfaya gitmek için buraya tıklayın.

Julian Gollop hasn't been involved in Firaxis' remake of X-COM: Enemy Unknown, his classic 1993 PC strategy game. He didn't even know about the remake until its public reveal just after New Year. "I would have liked to have been, because in a way I've been trying to remake that game for so long, without much success," he tells us.

Throughout his career, Gollop has been developing turn-based strategy games, releasing a string of titles from 1985's Chaos to 3DS launch title Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars that have seen the genre being superseded by the fast-paced dynamics of Dune 2 and Command & Conquer's realtime strategy, revitalised by Advance Wars and then become an integral component of mobile and social gaming.

With Gollop currently working on an unannounced game that's "part of a major Ubisoft franchise" at its Sofia studio, we ask him his opinion of what the X-COM remake looks from its few released screenshots, what he hopes Firaxis will do with his creation (read about the making of UFO: Enemy Unknown here) and his feelings on the future of the turn-based strategy genre.

Is there anything about X-COM you'd like to see being addressed in this remake?
Yeah, of course. Mainly in the realm of accessibility, which some people might call 'dumbing down' In the early 90s of course you didn't have in-game tutorials or help, because it was all in the big thick manual. Today people do not read manuals, they expect the game to teach them how to play it. Which is fair enough. In Shadow Wars we put a fair amount of effort into making the game accessible, teaching the systems as you're playing the game, hopefully keeping the player interested as they're learning.

This is the major thing, but it doesn't mean you have to dumb anything down in the sense that the full complexity of the game would be eventually revealed to the player as he learns all the systems. That was one thing that was difficult about the original UFO [X-COM was known as UFO in the UK]. It put you there and forced you to make decisions straight away without much idea of what you were supposed to be doing!

It was a problem that persisted in X-COM followup Terror From The Deep, which was even harder.
We [Mythos Games] had absolutely nothing to do with the development of Terror From The Deep because we licensed our code to Microprose. I think they made some classic mistakes in turn-based games, which is to make the difficulty too tough and the levels too big, long and tedious to get through. In turn-based games the really difficult thing to get right - and I wouldn't claim I've got it right - is that you need to keep each turn having at least some interesting decisions for the player about where to go, what to attack, how to attack.

If you have some boring turns where you're just moving guys around without any real interesting decision-making then turn-based games can get very dull very quickly. It's difficult to get right. We had this issue with Shadow Wars - although I tried to minimise it by stressing it to the level design team, but it's not easy to do. But the temptation is to make things big and complex and therefore ultimately a bit dull.

The screenshots indicate that XCOM: Enemy Unknown will have a 3D camera, while the original had a fixed, isometric one. Is disorientation a problem in tactical games like this?
It's difficult to see how the camera works from the screenshot, but disorientation is a problem. In Valkyria Chronicles it worked fine because you have a strategic map view that I thought worked well; I didn't find Valkyria Chronicles very disorientating. It is an issue - I don't know how [Firaxis is] doing their camera control but it's one thing they need to get right if they're going to get accessibility correct.

It makes people feel disorientated - they feel confused about where things are and where they need to go - then yes, it's a big problem. The standard isometric view we used on UFO and lots of others of my games works generally fine. We had this big argument with Shadow Wars where everybody wanted the camera to rotate freely. I said we really didn't want to do that because players would get disorientated and because it affects the level design - you can't design a 3D level to look good from all points of view. So we designed the levels from a single point of view. I had to say to constrain ourselves - I think they eventually accepted it. It doesn't look like Firaxis are going the same route here; it looks like freeform camera.

There's a minimap, though.
Yeah, but that's not going to be enough to help players, I don't think.

Are there aspects of the original game you'd like to see developed?
Yes - procedural mission and terrain generation, which we did very simply with the original game. We designed little sections and fitted them together semi randomly to create a unique map every time. Unfortunately the UFOs themselves were all fixed, so I'd like to see something which could generate an interesting tactical mission and be different every time it generated it.

Developing better AI would be interesting. In the original game I'd have liked to have gone more into the UFO lore which is generally known by people into UFOlogy. I'd have liked to have gone into the RPG element more, the character development. More options as to how they develop. That would be interesting

Aspects like skill trees?
Yeah, skill trees are a good concept; I've always liked them. It would be good to apply them in this case so you have a choice of paths of development and involving alien technology with it. I'd like to fix the psionics in the game so they're more interesting and balanced. But I'm not sure what else I'd do fundamentally to the game system. Of course, more interesting weapons and huge explosions.

And more convincing destructible terrain. We were going in this direction with The Dreamland Chronicles [a cancelled 3D tactical game for PS2 and PC that was very similar in design to Valkyria Chronicles] because we had fully destructible buildings. It was a pain to do it, especially on PS2, so we were quite limited in the complexity of the maps we could develop - though in some ways that's a good thing. Small, focused environments that have lots of interaction rather than endless landscapes of static elements. In that [XCOM screenshot], I'd like to be able to blow up the trees and their cover and create big craters in the ground with explosions and so forth.

Is AI today good enough to negotiate such dynamic environments?
Yes, absolutely on modern consoles. It requires some effort on the programming side; most technical efforts have gone into graphics and animation and not much into AI. There has on physics for realistic simulations of materials when they are subject to various forces, but I'm not sure many games use them. A lot of modern games are pretty basic in the way they work, actually, to be honest, basic in their level of interaction. You could have done the same game on a PC of the 90s, albeit with much more primitive graphics. I don't see there's been enough development on the AI side, and in the actual interactive environment side, which is a shame.

From the screenshots, do you see evidence of this in the new XCOM?
I'm guessing it isn't a hugely big-budget title, so I think they'll be sticking to fairly safe ground. I don't think there will be any technical innovations in their game engine. The innovations that would be interesting are the procedurally generated environments, a more sophisticated destruction model for the terrain, and the AI systems. If Firaxis can do all that, it would be great, but I suspect they're probably not going down that route, judging by the screenshots.

How did you feel when the firstperson XCOM game was announced in 2010?
I thought it was a great shame because it was going down the same route as some of the previous X-COM sequels, like Interceptor and Enforcer - in other words, going completely against turn-based combat. It was a bit disappointing from my point of view and for many fans of X-COM. When from out of the blue we heard that Firaxis are doing a turn-based version, it's as if 2K are trying to cover all their bets.

As with most publishers, they're convinced that turn-based games are a completely niche market and not worth their attention, which has been the problem since the mid-90s, of course. The first thing that killed turn-based gaming was all the RTS games. In the mid-90s they proliferated enormously and almost became the biggest game genre after the success of Command & Conquer in particular. So you could say that the death of turn-based gaming was already there in the mid-90s.

Do you feel in any sense that this attitude is changing? Social gaming is built on many turn-based gaming principles.
I think you're right. There's no need for turn-based games in themselves to be extremely niche. When you think about it, Pokemon has at its core a turn-based system. In fact, I'd say Pokemon is very similar in many ways to X-COM when you think about it - you recruit your squads, you have lots of choice over where you go and what you fight, though the story is ultimately linear. And it has a strategic meta-game to it as well as a tactical one. It's an involving and complex game. Pokemon is not a small-selling game, though at its core its a turn-based system. That's enough to say that turn-based does not mean some geeky niche for spotty RPG nerds.

And you're absolutely right about Facebook in the way they are games which are in many ways - they're not entirely turn-based because they have a realtime element, but real realtime, so the pace is dramatically slower, so it has more in common with turn-based gaming.

And what about mobile gaming? Turn-based works well for it because it's asynchronous.
Yeah, it is interesting, and I've been trying to follow some of the turn-based games developed on iPhone, for example. Nothing amazingly original there - there's even a game called UFO Online, which is actually more a clone of Incubation. So there's still not a lot of interesting developments in the turn-based world. I think the game that really made a big impact for me was Valkyria Chronicles, for sure. And before that, Advance Wars. When I first played it in 2001 I was bowled over by it. There's room for innovation there, but I don't know what Firaxis are going to do. How faithful it is to the original game, I don't know.

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