XCOM: Enemy Unknown Interview

28 Mar 2012

Rock, Paper, Shotgun is offering a lengthy interview with XCOM: Enemy Unknown's lead designer Jake Solomon. Among the topics discussed are the special abilities and their usage, the online reactions to the title and the base. Here's on the community reactions and ammo:
RPS: How much have you been tracking the response online now there’s more information out there?

Jake Solomon: Yeah, I’m surprised at how cynical some responses have been. I mean, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and I probably shouldn’t say this because I’m not that tuned into the response but people do keep me abreast of it. But ammo is a good example. People say ‘oh my god, they got rid of ammo, they’re trying to make this game too simple to play.’ And I was shocked by that, because ammo didn’t matter in the original. I changed ammo because it didn’t matter. So what I did was I said ‘okay, you’re going to run out of ammo a lot more, and if you use something like Suppression it’s going to use a ton of ammo because you’re firing the whole time.’

That’s the sort of thing that I was surprised people were unhappy about, because the only change I made was alright you’re not putting the clips on your guys, but let’s be honest in the original game the clips were huge and they weighed 1 and the lasers didn’t even have clips. So in our game laser weapons overheat, and you can actually run out of ammo so reload is actually a tactical decision. We actually tried to make that sort of thing matter more. I don’t blame people, but it was a little bit cynical, they were like ‘oh I can’t believe they got rid of ammo’ and we were ‘but we didn’t! We made ammo more important!’

Some of those things have surprised me, some of those things have not. I mean, time units…

RPS: I’m not going to ask you about those again, don’t worry. There were a couple of moments in my original playthroughs of X-COM where, because I was crap at it back then, I’d run out of ammo and need to go loot alien corpses for clips. That was quite exciting, when you found one that did have the right clip and you’re ‘oh my god, I’m back in the game!’

Jake Solomon: I mean, those are the tough calls as a designer, right? People have those memories… I won’t call them one off, but they’re experiences that, if you try to design for them, it’s very, very difficult and in some cases it fights the overall system. That’s a good example – I had that memory, and ‘oh, you can put dudes in your backpack’. That’s great, but… designing that kind of stuff, you have to devote effort to it rather than something else, so, y’know…