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Exclusive Interview #1
Released 26 / Jan / 2000

Many thanks to the X-COM Alliance Folks:
  • Chris Clark - Designer
  • Chris Coon - Lead Programmer
  • Martin DeRiso - Producer
Cyke ; Let`s start with how complete the game currently is , as a percentage. I know lots of different areas are being worked on, and things will be changed etc, but pretend there are a hundred rabid XCom fans standing over you wielding baseball bats , demanding to know ;)

Chris Coon: 60-70%

Cyke ; What about the release date? Do you have a release month in mind yet?

Martin DeRiso : Yes. Yes, we do. ;) Just keep in mind that the last thing you want is a game full of bugs, and that’s the last thing we want too. We’re all very dedicated to the project, and wouldn’t want to rush it out just to make a date.

Cyke ; As we know, there are going to be 15 levels to the game. How big are these and would playing the game to the finish on one-player take a good length of time? (In the sense that nobody wants the game to be short )

Chris Clark : Actually Cyke, we don’t have a final count on the total number of levels in Alliance. There are 13 missions in the game and these missions are broken down into multiple levels. The levels are very large and will take quite a bit of time to complete as the player will have to deal with situations not typically seen in games of this type.

We want the player to feel like the leader of a squad that is on a series of long and dangerous missions behind enemy lines. During these missions there will be a large number of obstacles to overcome... Ambushes, defending your specialists while they solve a puzzle, caring for and carrying your wounded, and dealing with the results of combat stress and panic, to name just a few. All of these elements add not only to the time spent in a level, but also to the intense level of fear and apprehension felt during each mission.

Cyke ; Multiplayer mode questions : Could you confirm that the aliens are available for use in Multi-player mode? All of them ?

Chris Clark : Yes, a number of aliens will be available in Multiplayer. At this time we are in the process of making the final decisions on which would be coolest to have. We figure Sectoids and Ethereals are a given.. Any suggestions?

Cyke ; From what we know, the engine you`re using is the Unreal engine, with heavy modifications. Will level-designers at home be able to use existing Unreal editing packages? Will you guys be realising any (form of) editors?

Chris Coon : We’re striving to maintain backward compatibility with the Unreal file formats, so if you’re comfortable with the Unreal editor or Unreal Script it should be an easy transition. We have an entirely different animation system (skeletal IK) and AI system ("stateless" subsumption), that we are planning to give mod-makers access to as well.

Cyke ; A big part of the success of the quake series was the way you could edit and modify the game so much. What possibilities for modifications will Xcom fans have with Alliance?

Chris Coon : As much as possible! Level design, textures and lighting, skins, ambient sounds, skill puzzles, weapons, AI, everything we can make available.

Cyke ; What team-play modes will be available ? E.g four players on one squad? Could multi-player squads play through the single level game levels ?

Martin DeRiso : The Multiplayer section is being nailed down now. We’ve got ideas for many unique multiplayer modes and are hesitant to talk about them until they’re a little more concrete. Let’s just say that; yes, we’re planning for team-play, yes, four players in one squad, and yes, teams can play through the single player game levels.

Cyke ; And now , the question I`m fearing the most.....what spec does it look like the game may need?

Martin DeRiso : It’s too early to say at this point, but we’re aiming as low as possible. Take a look at Unreal’s system specs to get an idea. We’re also planning to allow configurable detail options so users can increase Alliance’s performance on their machines.

Exclusive Interview #2

Released 17 / Mar / 2000

Thanks to the team and especially Will Gee for these insights

Cyke : Will the weapons auto-reload, or will the player be required to press a `reload` key. The latter would be more realistic (and tense ) and help to enforce the `this-is-not-a-deathmatch` game strategy elements.

Currently, the player must explicitly reload (press a reload key, not what you're thinking!) but this may change in the course of play-balancing, we’ll have to wait and see.

Cyke : What about clip-changing ? E.g changing a half-clip for a full one before storming a room ?

Just hit the reload key If you’re asking if reloading causes you to "lose" any ammo already in your gun, the answer is yes. Reloading (when not empty) will be a tactical decision, rather than just a mindless (and un-penalized) tap of the reload button every 5 seconds.

Cyke : Are you aiming the game squarely at the Half-Life/Quake3 crowd? ( As opposed to just XComers and strategy fans)

We are aiming this game at everyone in the world... As far as those two games, more the Half-Life than the Q3 crowd.

Cyke : Do you guys play quake3 , UT etc? Are you all regular 3d gamers?? Are you familiar with playing the competition?

Funny you should ask, I just finished UT yesterday... People here are fairly avid gamers, into pretty much every genre. I'm not sure I've ever met a "regular 3d gamer" though

Cyke : Do you percieve that the XCom name could actually be a hindrance in the 3D shooter market, due to quakers etc thinking " it must be turn based " or " it`s just a franchise name`s game, it can`t be any good.."?

After we release our compatibility test, people will understand what Alliance is all about.

Cyke : Will the full range of 3D cards be supported ?

Yes, but with the caveat being that I don't consider anything less powerful than a VooDoo1/RagePro to be a 3d card... I mean, c’mon, a VooDoo1 is like 40 bucks or something, so just resist the urge to buy Extreme Paintbrawl 3, and replace that old PowerVR.

Cyke : Will the weapons have secondary fire options, as is currently very popular?

Yes, we are riding the Alt-Fire bandwagon, but our Alt-Fires are slightly different than the "take a big shot" approach that our competitors seem to be so fond of. Some of them are even throwbacks to the original X-Com, like the Rifle's "aimed shot".

Cyke : How will the player navigate through the big levels? Will there be maps/mapping facilities etc?

We've created a pretty advanced mapping system to uh, er... It basically works like the map in Doom, except that you can issue commands to your troopers. It serves two purposes:

  • Allows you to control troopers that are not in your line of sight.
  • Helps you navigate the level.

Cyke : How essential to the games success do you feel the multiplayer options will be ?

Multiplayer will probably play a small role in the game's initial success, -however- it will be absolutely crucial to ensuring the game's longevity. We want to build a community, not just sell a bunch of copies.

Cyke : Due to the size of many of the one player levels, would the majority of them be unsuitable for Deathmatch?

We will have separate Deathmatch/CTF/etc... maps. Single player maps really just don't translate well into a DM experience.

Cyke : Will each of the new 9 aliens have their own `identity` and character ? ( e.g. the suicidal one ( poppers ) the very scary one (chrysalids) the bossman (ethereals) etc )

Actually, we were planning on just having 9 new color schemes for the Sectoid's underpants. Seriously, yes, they will be different, what's the fun of aliens that look different but act the same?

Cyke : Will the aliens have the same morale issues that X-Com will? E.g if 9/10ths of Aliens are dead, will the rest panic/run away/hide?

Will they use the same tactics as X-Com? That would depend... Sectoids: probably yes. Chryssalids: probably no.

Cyke : Will alien psychics require rest periods after using powers?

I hope so!

Cyke : How good will the end sequence be ?? Very very good or Orgasmically good ? ;)

I don't think we can put that kind of a sequence in a video game.

Cyke : Will cinematics be used much, to progress the linear storyline...between levels etc

Cinematics and in-game/in-engine cutscenes will be in full effect.

Cyke : Will the aliens be physically hit ? Will they buckle/recoil from hits accurately ? and behave realistically?

It looks so real you almost feel bad shootin' the little fellas. (ok, not -too- bad)

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