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Note : This is a very brief 60 second FAQ which will be improved upon in the future. For more in depth info on the game , go to here.

What is X-Com Alliance ?

X-Com Alliance is the latest in the line of X-Com games. In a departure from the turn based and isometric viewpoints, it is taking the X-Com brand into the real-time , first person strategy genre.

Many of the common elements from earlier games are still present though. There will be a large research tree, a need for strategic engagement of the enemy, the known Aliens ( sectoids, ethereals etc ) are still there, and you`ll be working in a tight squad formation.

Unlike most first person games, you won`t be able to directly control any of your team-mates, only your own `commander` character. It`ll be up to you to direct their efforts, lead them well, and manage their morale.

What`s the storyline ?

In 2062 , on April the 23rd , the UGS Patton departs from Tranquilty base for Cydonia. Its mission is to locate Elerium-115 on the surface of Mars and establish a mining facility. Equipped with only a stripped down crew of X-Com soldiers, but the finest scientist and engineers from Earth, it arrives after 4 months.
The Patton establishes an orbit around the red planet and begins scanning the surface. To help calibrate their new hyperwave pulse sensors , they begin on the Cydonia Base.

There is a tremendous sudden power surge in the vicinity of the base.

Earth loses contact with the Patton and a high speed probe which arrives a month later cannot find them. On the surface there is evidence of a massive explosion , however. A board of inquiry on Earth agrees that the Patton must have had a drive systems failure and crashed into the planets surface. The case is closed.

Across the universe..

Stranded 60 light years from home after a warp gate from a long dead planet sent them across the galaxy, the Pattons crew mission is a simple one. To get home.

Complicating that is the fact they have landed in the middle of an ongoing military struggle between the known alien enemy and a new group of lifeforms, the Ascidians. And well, this isn`t called Alliance for nothing you know! The Ascidians must be made allies quickly if you are to survive.

Known Features

See here for the full list !

  • Alliance is in real-time. There is no turn-based mode.
  • Gameplay will emphasize team management and tactics.
  • Enemy difficulty and overall atmosphere is more like Half-Life, with both scripted events and random encounters, so combat is different each time.
  • There will be 13 Missions comprised of roughly 20 levels.
  • There are a huge amount of motion-captured animations (over 300 for each trooper) .
  • You go on missions usually in squads of 4.
  • If the player pushes a trooper beyond their breaking point, the trooper will pass out.
  • There are a huge amount of audio soundbites for your team. Each will have 200 personalised lines of speech (there will be some 11,500 lines of speech in the whole game).

Known Weapons

This is the starting weapon , the standard issue X-Com Rifle. (See the Galleries/Misc for a conceptual drawing of this) A great looking weapon , and I would assume you`ll be using this for a fairly large amount of time before your research into alien technology starts to pay dividends.

This shot is taken from the intro movie, and shows an unusual weapon with coils around it, in which light pulses up and down the barrel repeatedly. This gun will not be exactly the same in the actual game as the intro movie was done a long time ago, and the gun design has been refined since then.

This is about the best shot we have of this weapon, and I still can`t tell what it is. It may not be in the game anymore. Seems to be some sort of rifle, but seems very low-tech as it looks to have an old-fashioned aiming sight at the end?

This gun is definitely not in the game anymore, but I wanted to include it here because it`s in a lot of the older shots, and I wanted to clarify this. It used to be the laser rifle, but the design has completely changed.

I`m assuming this is a large thrown explosive device. Because it`s so huge and nasty looking , I`m thinking it might be alien in origin?

Looks like a pistol (?), though it likely fires something more high tech than bullets, like laser or plasma.

Conceptual artwork for the X-Com standard issue pistol. Uses clips, so might use good old-fashioned bullets ?

The flamethrower ! I`ve seen this in action and it looks great. The flames look realistic and you can toast aliens completely until they are charred piles of ashes !

Alien weapon. It actually reminds me of a crossbow for some reason. Inset on the bottom left is anther image of the weapon, pointing at you. I would reason that it`s an early alien technology you can get and use or we wouldn`t be allowed to see it already !

Conceptual art for alien technology. Very mean and nasty looking, it looks at first glance to be an arm weapon ( like the Predator has ) but the barrel is at the other end, and the trigger is at the left. It has to use clips, and has an exhaust ( ! ) so it seems to launch something..?

From the intro movie. Hard to say what it is, but as everyone else is carrying a weapon it seems logical to assume it`s some sort of weapon. Also as the intro movie probably takes place early in the game, it could be earth technology.

Demolition charges. Little is known, but it would be safe to assume you`ll use them on missions and possibly as an offensive strike against larger aliens?

Fusion Pistol. No graphics or details yet.

What is the release date ?

Currently , Q3 2001 . The game was delayed when a key member was lost. The game had to be put on hold temporarily, and the team will be returning to finish it in April 2001 approx. To quote the Producer, "we`re dying to finish it, we spent 14 months on it !!"

How much is currently done ? ?

About 70% would be a good estimate. The AI needs completed and the multiplayer also.

What is the Skeletal system ?

Okay, if you`ve been paying attention at all , you`ll know about the existence of the Skeletal sytem the team added to the Unreal Engine. However, it`s been too complicated for me to grasp....until now.

The skeletal system is founded on motion-capture which is the practice of using real peoples body movements as the basis for animation in the game. However , the limit of motion capture is that you would have to get a huge amount of data for every possible thing the player might want to do. Walking is simple for example. But walking while looking around would be another different set of data. Walking and checking the settings on your weapon would be another. Combining all three would be another. Try and imagine how many different movement combinations are possible, via combat, interacting, resting, strafing, jumping, performing tasks, using items, and displaying the *huge* range of emotions this game can do.

That`s where skeletal animation comes in. It can divide sets of data and combine parts. For example the legs from a walking animation, and the torso from a reload with the head of a wary trooper. It`s highly efficient , though not easy to do which is a sign of the skills of the Hunt Valley Team.

I`ve seen this in action, and it really makes your men & women seem 'alive'. You can tell their movements are realistic and it brings a whole new level of passion to the game. Between this and their huge amount of audio clips, these guys will seem real . Trust me, you`ll be impressed when you see it in action.

What is the Sub-sumptive AI ?

X-Com uses what's called "Sub-sumtive AI" (a system created by MIT for industrial robotics) to simulate the thought processes of realistic people. Each character is affected by a series of urges that are combined and compared with his or her emotional state to produce a reaction based on their personality. Are they low on morale? Low on ammo? Did they just see a teammate die? Are they near a commander? Can they hear aliens nearby? What were they just ordered to do? Every character then chooses from the strongest of their many impulses to act out a behavior. "If you order four troopers to do the same thing," Clark tells us, "You're going to get four different results based on their emotional state.

The Emotions of War

Troopers in Alliance can be secure, insecure, panicked, disgusted at a sight, themselves or a situation, they can be elated, frightened, or sad.

Their speech, movement, and combat effectiveness will be affected by these factors. Players will be able to view a troopers morale or physical state by checking that trooper's info screen, or watching their behavior, or listening to their requests for a break.

With this information players will know when to give their squad (or a trooper) a rest (in combat or back on the Patton). If the player ignores the signals that a trooper is at the end of their rope then the trooper could panic or pass out from exhaustion. Back on the Patton, medical and psych officers will recommend (through Xmail messages) rest for stressed troopers. Other troopers will send Xmail to the player telling the player that they do not want to serve with troopers that panic too often. All of this prompts the player to treat his troopers like what they are...people, not the mindless gunboats that we have grown accustomed to.

They will get more upset when friends are killed. They will even have conversation with their friends that they will not have with any other trooper. "

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