XCOM: Enemy Unknown Interview, Part One

02 Feb 2012

The first installment to a new multi-part interview with XCOM: Enemy Unknown lead designer Jake Solomon is up at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and while they don't get too heavy into the remake's mechanics, they do at least get an answer to some burning questions I know a lot of us have.  Such as:
RPS: Cool, well let’s test you on that then. The most important question of all, I think you’ll agree, is why isn’t there a hyphen in the title anymore?

Jake Solomon: (laughs) We have an implied hyphen, you’ve seen our logo, right? You can kind of see it striking through the COM part.

...

RPS: So: as soon as it’s mentioned that it’s on console our threads fill with people going ‘oh god, oh no, the controls aren’t going to work and it’s going to be dumbed down, yada yada’. Do we need to worry on that front, is there going to be a bespoke PC version with different controls?

Jake Solomon: You know I’m going to say you shouldn’t worry.. But no, not at all. The way I’d say it is that input-wise, from a purely input standpoint, XCOM is not a complicated game at all, in fact it’s a very, very straightforward game from an input perspective, so whether you’re playing on a PC with mouse keyboard or whether you’re playing a gamepad, there really aren’t that many things for you to do anyway, I mean this is not at all like something like Civ, this is a much more straightforward interaction with player and experience. So we’re perfectly comfortable with putting the game to gamepad, putting the game to mouse and keyboard because we’ve do Civ in-house, which is an extremely complicated input system and so for us, XCOM is so straightforward in the inputs the player makes and how the player interacts with the game.

Being on consoles it works fantastically, being on mouse keyboard it works fantastically, there’s not even any particular tension there, I mean the tension there and what needs to be different of course is the way that the player interacts with the scene because with the mouse obviously it’s a input selection-driven input, so the player wants to click on things, he wants to click on enemies, as opposed to something like a gamepad where you want to cycle enemies, right? That’s mainly the big difference, the strategy layer is extremely straightforward, there is a lot of UI involved with it, but that’s very easy to either make those two things either work for both but we have plenty of cases where we just do whole different screens, but certainly tactical is the place where it’s the most different because of the nature of cycling into points of interest as opposed to just straight up clicking on points of interest.

So we’re totally committed to making a separate experience for PC, and in fact there are things we can do on PC obviously that we couldn’t do on something like a console, so whether you’re talking zoom level and the different ways you can view the battlefield tactically, that’s certainly much easier with PC, above and beyond the stuff that you always get on PC like better res and things like that. But really what we’re looking to do is having a more tactical view in terms of zoom level and things like that, and how the information is displayed – those are all things that we can do on PC that have to be changed for gamepad.