Julian Gollop Director and co-designer, UFO: Enemy Unknown When and where did you first meet Jake Solomon?
I first met Jake in March 2013 at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. We were doing an interview together about X-COM old and new. We talked about how XCOM: Enemy Unknown came to be made and what happened during development. He was clearly a great fan of the original, and somewhat nervous about what I would think about the new XCOM. Players want a more guided experience in the early stages of gameplay and don’t want to read too much. It used to be RTFM [read the fucking manual]. Now it’s, ‘WTF is a manual?’ Everything is more visual, animated and dramatic. Players want to experience the story rather than make the story. I guess this comes from the vast expansion of the video and computer games playerbase. Turn-based strategy games were a bit of a niche then, and now they are really quite an oddity. This is why XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a really important game. It planted a flag deep within enemy territory and captured a new audience for turn-based strategy gaming.
The original game is still infamous for being incredibly difficult. Did you like the way that the reboot was balanced?
Yes, the balance was very well done. I’ve failed at the game many times, but each time I didn’t feel cheated. I could always point to a few earlier decisions that could have been made better. That’s the mark of a great strategy game.
How much has the gaming landscape changed since 1994? Do you think there’s less challenge in modern games?