XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Strategy Game - Developed by Firaxis

Hypatian wrote:

If they're smart they're playtesting the heck out of this to see what best gives that feeling of tension but at the same time leaves you knowing exactly what your chances of any given outcome are, so you can plan as well as possible.

This basically sums up why we will never see eye to eye on this issue.

To me having all the stats up front is a bad thing. If I can estimate the outcome of a battle in terms of a % chance its just boring. This is why I play Men of War instead of Advance Wars or Battle For Wesnoth. I'm not saying simpler games like Advance Wars are bad games. They have their own brand of strategy. But you can only do so much within such a simple framework.

If Firaxis did as you described and let the players "know the chances of any given outcome", then the entire strategy of the game amounts to balancing percentages. Why would you choose a course of action with a %50 chance of success instead of 100%? Why would I shoot that alien with a rifle when I could use a pistol instead? I know he has only 1hp, I should be using the weakest weapon I can right? It becomes all about gaming the system because that is what you are presented with.

I know you didn't mean this literally. But this is what you get when combat can be summed up in a single sentence as "61% chance to hit for 1-5 damage with a 25% chance to crit" in big visible numbers. When you can calculate the result of an action and immediately see the result, all of the tension is lost.

kexx wrote:
Slacker1913 wrote:

Well, they nailed the sounds

Holy crap, I just watched that video, and they do indeed nail the sounds and music. The tone is perfect. The sectoid's noise reminded me of the clicking from the aliens in Signs. They sound awesome.

Yes! I immediately thought of Signs as well, mixed with a bit of the spooky monkey sounds from System Shock 2. That's definitely a good audio pairing for some hair-raising.
Some of the images of the aliens on all fours, dog-like, are a little creepy as well.

Very happy to see they've (apparently) not gone for cigar-chompin' bad-ass marines against the little green men vibe.

You can always predict the percentage outcome of a battle in XCOM, given enough experience.

I wonder if the multiple health bars in the screenshot from the sound design article are subsystems of the robot or an invisible/ethereal alien hiding to the right (yikes)?

I have nothing but unbridled enthusiasm for the team working on this! Looking forward to seeing your hard work.

Tamren wrote:

I know you didn't mean this literally. But this is what you get when combat can be summed up in a single sentence as "61% chance to hit for 1-5 damage with a 25% chance to crit" in big visible numbers. When you can calculate the result of an action and immediately see the result, all of the tension is lost.

Someone tell Paradox that Europa Universalis is a consolized knockoff of a strategy game. Because they do this. Someone tell Rabbit that all tabletop war games have no tension because both players know the chances they have before each roll.

You're grasping at straws now. Again, hidden information serves absolutely no purpose in a turn based strategy system. It is false difficulty and only increases the learning curve. It does not increase depth. Depth comes from the system: how darkness effects aim, how cover and positioning works, what the chances for criticals are. Hiding all that only makes the game harder to learn. It does not make it any shallower, or easier.

cube wrote:
Tamren wrote:

I know you didn't mean this literally. But this is what you get when combat can be summed up in a single sentence as "61% chance to hit for 1-5 damage with a 25% chance to crit" in big visible numbers. When you can calculate the result of an action and immediately see the result, all of the tension is lost.

Someone tell Paradox that Europa Universalis is a consolized knockoff of a strategy game. Because they do this. Someone tell Rabbit that all tabletop war games have no tension because both players know the chances they have before each roll.

You're grasping at straws now. Again, hidden information serves absolutely no purpose in a turn based strategy system. It is false difficulty and only increases the learning curve. It does not increase depth. Depth comes from the system: how darkness effects aim, how cover and positioning works, what the chances for criticals are. Hiding all that only makes the game harder to learn. It does not make it any shallower, or easier.

Also, I seem to recall ye olde X-Com showing percentages next to the various firing options

Indeed, what everybody else said.

Also consider Frozen Synapse, where experience tells you what the actual chances are but from the very beginning you have the capability to test and see exactly what will happen if a given scenario comes to pass. That doesn't make it non-deep or boring.

The only thing that not exposing probabilities does is make you look up the probabilities on a wiki somewhere, or make you figure out what the probabilities are yourself if you want to have full control over the game. Knowing the probabilities also doesn't mean you fully understand the implications of all of the interactions and how they'll work. (I did an [em]awful[/em] lot of math to analyze various sorts of strategies for tanking in WoW in the BC days, and we knew [em]all[/em] of the probabilities. But you could still put a lot of thought into exactly what those probabilities meant in the larger picture.)

Optimally, everybody should know enough to feel like they can make informed choices. If you don't have that much, you're just spending time until you figure it out. It's only when you know the rules of the game that you actually begin playing the game. You don't need perfect knowledge or understanding. But you also don't need to prevent people from gaining knowledge to have a fun game. (And in fact, if you rely on that in today's world you will fail hard, because the Internet is very very good at letting people work out numbers.)

Never tell me the odds.

I wasn't fond of the look of the levels in the initial forest screenshot but I think the last set with the gas station and diner look pretty cool.

Looking at the last screenshots of the aliens, if the fog of war is active and you go around the corner and one of those popped up, I would definitely scream like a girl.

bighoppa wrote:

Never tell me the odds.

IMAGE(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_3IjRgoGWUBo/TA14j1902WI/AAAAAAAAAl0/qaoCn-MRiCE/s1600/never-tell-me-the-odds-demotivator.jpg)

Continuing GameInformer's coverage:

Alien Breeds: The Evolution Of XCOM’s Enemies

Oh man, the Thin Man has sold me the game. Such a cool design.

oMonarca wrote:

Oh man, the Thin Man has sold me the game. Such a cool design.

Definitely in agreement there. I get to shoot the Slender Man? Awesome! Time to re-watch Marble Hornets.

Yeah, those are all pretty awesome.

Is there a part two? All I see is Sectoids and Mutons.

EDIT: Nevermind, NoScript was hiding the 1-2 selector.

Ah, with scripting and Page 2, that game just got a lot more interesting. The Thin Man is perfect, totally XCom-ish.

Yeah I'm loving the aliens so far, I think they've got the right idea.

It'll be intersting to see how they tie this into the FPS. I know it's retroactively becoming a prequel, but I figured they were pretty much going off in their own direction seeing as how the aliens were completely different from anything seen in X-com so far, but the strategy game seems to be reusing the old aliens very faithfully.

I'm one of those guys excited about the FPS, but I have to admit that even I thought the blobs and such, while interesting, were a little disappointing. With this news, perhaps we'll be shooting sectoids in first person after all?

That also highlights how much more complex computer enemies have gotten in two decades. In the X-Com era, it was enough to have a 2D sprite at a number of angles. X-Com was kind of advanced, in that their sprites could visibly show different weapons. I bet each alien took no more than a couple solid weeks by one good artist.

Compare that with now, where they have to be painstakingly modeled and textured in 3D, probably by a whole team of people. And then they have to animate it. That's gotta be a hundred times as complex as it was twenty years ago. The tools are a lot better, so it probably doesn't actually take a hundred artists to do an alien, but I bet it takes a dozen or so.

Gamer expectations have also changed. It used to be that everyone was happy with simple sprites because they were literally all we had. Now when you make a 3d alien you have to think about things like giving it a distinct silhouette. So that people can tell what it is at a glance.

Edit: Heck, a lot of us ARE still happy with simple sprites. We just happen to be the minority these days.

Malor wrote:

That also highlights how much more complex computer enemies have gotten in two decades. In the X-Com era, it was enough to have a 2D sprite at a number of angles. X-Com was kind of advanced, in that their sprites could visibly show different weapons. I bet each alien took no more than a couple solid weeks by one good artist.

Compare that with now, where they have to be painstakingly modeled and textured in 3D, probably by a whole team of people. And then they have to animate it. That's gotta be a hundred times as complex as it was twenty years ago. The tools are a lot better, so it probably doesn't actually take a hundred artists to do an alien, but I bet it takes a dozen or so.

I would say it takes a team of a dozen people to properly conceive, design, model, animate and polish the complete enemy roster. I agree that games were "easier" to make because the scope was much smaller than what we have now.

A X:Com post-mortem would be really great in that sense; pretty much the same game 18 years apart: Sprite animation vs 3D Modeling.

Yeah, actually, I'd be fine if it were isometric, like the original X-Com. I'd still buy it in a heartbeat, if it were good.

The thing is, the 3D gets them stuff like resolution independence, if they're clever. It means the game should run on the 19200x10800 screens of 2030 without much issue.

Have system specs been announced? I'm curious if I am going to have to play this on the 360.

Malor wrote:

Yeah, actually, I'd be fine if it were isometric, like the original X-Com. I'd still buy it in a heartbeat, if it were good.

3D doesn't mean it doesn't have to be isometric.

Well, true, but if you're going to take the time to render it all in 3D, you might as well take it out of isometric mode. The only real reason for that mode is so that you can do 3D with 2D assets.

The nice thing about 3D is camera control. You can do isometric view, a 2d like side view or overhead, 3rd person over the shoulder, 1st person, and pan/orbit/zoom all just by changing the camera's properties without touching the art assets. Now, whether the designers give the users that level of camera control is a different story.

I personally liked the camera controls that MechCommander 2 had.
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TAZ

Silent Storm did isometric 3D very well. It was such a great engine I'm surprised it didnt end up with more total conversions etc.

Isometric can be done without a fixed camera. But is it possible for something to be isometric without also being grid-based?

Irongut wrote:

Silent Storm did isometric 3D very well. It was such a great engine I'm surprised it didnt end up with more total conversions etc.

Yeah, I've thought the same thing on more than one occasion. But apparently the copy protection on that title was so supremely nasty that it became unstable. It's apparently very, very difficult (if not impossible) to get it running on Vista or Win7, if you can even find a copy.