How One Mod Helped Define the Modern XCOM Experience

Gamasutra has interviewed Firaxis creative director Jake Solomon about the influence of the Long War mod for XCOM: Enemy Unknown on XCOM 2 and the ramifications of modding for the title. There are some very interesting bits in there, but the main takeaway I get from the interview is that Long War influenced both the design of the title in the broad strokes and the team's decision to fully support mods, a decision that Solomon believes will help the franchise as a whole in the long run.

Here's an excerpt on the arduous process of rewriting the game to fully support mods:

With all this in mind, the development of XCOM 2 was undertaken with the express intent of making modding something that was planned for, rather than wrangled out of the code by passionate modders. This has presented a real challenge for Solomon and his team; it meant that the sequel was actually more work than creating the original.

(You have to really commit to make modding good, and that's really what Ryan McFall [lead engineer on XCOM 2] did," says Solomon. "We rewrote everything from Enemy Unknown, which was painful. We wanted the game to be very moddable. For us, it was neat to say that when the game comes out, we're going to give people these mods, but also all the assets we've made, all the textures, models, animations, all the code, which especially for strategy games means the design, as that's in the code, we wanted to give it all to them.)

The team is going so far as to give the modder community a head start. At PAX South, Take Two announced that Long War Studios would have three pieces of mod content ready and available for free when XCOM 2 launches.

Is Solomon worried that he's basically giving up everything his team has developed for the past few years?

(In the old days, we used to think that everything was proprietary, but if you look at how people operate, the magic of the team isn't in the content they create, it's in them--people with skills,) Solomon tells me. (We don't lose an ounce of value by giving away every piece of content. What's really valuable is the developers.)