DGC Ep 077: X-Com (part one)

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are beginning a series of episodes about 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense. This week, we set the game in its historical context and discuss the beginning of the game. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up through first ground mission

Podcast breakdown:
0:38       X-Com Segment
1:06:28  Break
1:06:51  Feedback segment

Issues covered: business model of early Wizardry, DOS Box, perils of the back catalog, 1994 in games, turn-based games history, war gaming, X-Com as shorthand and a genre definer, tutorial in the manual, pure sim, "Suit up son, you're going to Mars," tracking your first UFO, placing your first base, destroying your base and losing the money, simulation depth, usability issues, getting outrun by UFOs, don't shoot it down over water, placing your base in Australia, air combat, time units as primary resource, line of sight, random number generation and probability, managing player expectations, switching from math to psychology, how we've used probability over time in design, nailbiting moments when the RNG goes your way, end of month ratings, Tim loses, high skill and exploration.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Wizardry, The Witcher (series), Mass Effect, Ultima, Bard's Tale, Night Dive Studios, Meridian 59, No One Loves Forever, Julian Gollop, Super Metroid, TIE Fighter, Warcraft, Final Fantasy VI, Doom ][, Earthbound, Earthworm Jim, System Shock, Heretic, Megaman X2, Jazz Jackrabbit, Master of Magic, Beneath a Steel Sky, Burn Cycle, Richard LeMarchand, Fallout, D&D, Avalon Hill, Axis & Allies, Chris Crawford, Eastern Front, TankTics, Koei, SSI, Panzer Strike, Laser Squad, Mario vs Rabbids, Firaxis Games, Jake Solomon, Klei, Invisible Inc, Oxygen Not Required, LucasArts, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Chess, Nintendo, Famicom Wars, Gameboy Wars, Advance Wars, Jagged Alliance, Panzer Generals, Final Fantasy Tactics, Castlevania, Chainmail, Gary Gygax, Star Trek, Morgan Gray, Ron Gilbert, Ken Shoemake, Civ II, Dunkirk, Sid Meier, Oblivion, Skyrim, Ross Hadden, Super Mario (series: World/Sunshine/64/Galaxy), Ben Zaugg, Jason Schreier, SNES Classic, Redwunder, Idle Thumbs, Important If True, ChrisLaBs, scootermm, Micus_Ficus, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Ausy19, Kotaku Splitscreen, Spirit Tracks, Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds.

BrettYK: 5
TimYK: 60

Next time:
A few hours more

Correction: I believe the "Suit up, son, you're going to Mars" quote actually came from a Mark LeBlanc talk. DGC regrets the error.

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub