Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Monday, 22 October 2012

Omega Company Pt.5: You need a Montage

It's Part 5 of the adventures of Omega Company in XCOM.

We've had ups, we've had downs, and my magic 8-ball is currently predicting a lot more 'down' in the future. But I've been neglecting where we are in 'game time'. We started on 1st March 2015, so after everything we've done, we must be a fair way further on, right?

It's 30 days later, and tomorrow, on 1st April, I'm going to have my first monthly report with the Council. Understandably, I'm nervous.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Omega Company Pt.4: The Trip

I don't think it's arrogant to say that, with respect to video games, I'm often the knowledgeable person in my circles of friends. That's not to say that I'm particularly good, just that I'm always careful to hang out with people that are worse than me. As such, there have been many circumstances where I'm called on to explain various things to one person or another. Sometimes, there will be a particular game that another friend is also passionate about. At this point, I can sit down with them and have a chat on a more equal level, discussing how one thing or another works, often with other beginner players in the room, listening in.

In either of these cases, whether it's an explanation or a discussion, there will always come a moment when I or another 'expert' says the following line:

"Oh, and of course whatever you do, don't do X."

I don't know why we feel the need to say it. Not doing X (whatever X might be for this particular game) is a pretty obviously good thing to be not doing. We've spent minutes discussing subtler points of strategy, obscure once-in-a-game situations, cunning tricks that we've discovered...and then we top it off with some banal. obvious point that you could probably avoid by just hammering on the keyboard at random.

Why do we do this? Do I not trust my intelligent friends to catch on to this obvious point? Do I just like the feeling of being all superior and patronising? Is it for the cruel fun of that split second, where the beginner player looks blank, perhaps because they don't get it, or perhaps because it's such a blindingly obvious point that there must be a deeper reason for you saying it. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter. What matters is that I do it when I'm explaining things, and I know other people do too.

It's pointless, and unhelpful to anyone intelligent.


...I really wish I'd had someone to explain XCOM to me.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Omega Company Pt.3: You Win Some...

Mistakes have been made, and casualties taken. But so far we've given a little better than we've gotten, and the only question now is whether this next mission will prove as profitable as everyone seems to hope it will be...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Omega Company Pt.2: Field Training

When last we left the XCOM Omega Company, the squad was engaged on their first true combat mission. The eyes of the world were watching to judge whether this project was really going to be the saviour they were hoping for but frankly, the soldiers on the ground, and the commander giving the orders, weren't doing so well...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Omega Company Pt.1: First Contact

Let's start with some ground rules.

I won't be discussing the plot in detail, but there will doubtlessly be some spoilers here. As far as I understand it, even the 'story' missions are randomized on each playthrough, but I'll still be discussing the types of enemies I come across and their various abilities, and probably even the locations I visit.

The four difficulty levels of the game are Easy, Normal, Classic, and the helpfully titled 'Impossible'. The communal wisdom of the Internets has informed me that Normal starts out a bit easy, although it does get challenging later, while Classic will kick you right in the balls from the word go. For the purposes of making this diary more entertaining for the readers, I've decided to go with Classic.

I hesitated on activating Ironman mode. Ironman means that you're only allowed to save the game when you exit, and reloading also deletes the save (I believe there is some sort of autosave for if the game crashes). Essentially, it removes any ability to redo mistakes, or change your mind about decisions, by reloading. I was more or less planning on doing a 'soft' Ironman, where I could still reload if I did something really stupid, but at the last second my testosterone got the better of me and I checked the box. For better or worse, the only way is forward.

Despite the above choices, I've still got the Tutorial switched on. This means that many of my early decisions with regards to research and base management are locked out until the tutorial sees fit to teach me about them. It also, I believe, means that the first handful of missions will be somewhat less random than normal, so that the game can gradually introduce new concepts to me.

Lastly, expect this diary to slip fluidly and unashamedly between an 'in-character' view of the events, and a much more gamery discussion of the tactics, strategy, and development I'm using.


The date is the 1st March, 2015. This is the day the world changes.

Monday, 15 October 2012

XCOM: Revenge of the Hyphen

I bought XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and I'm going to be writing a diary of at least my first playthrough as I go. So let me try and summarise why I think it's a cool game, and why I think it'll be fun to read about.

XCOM is a game about defending Earth from aliens. Ok, wait...let me try again.

XCOM is a turn-based strategy game, with both a global and a battlefield level, which emphasizes careful planning and development over both long and short periods of time. ...Better, but a bit dry.

XCOM is a game about being outgunned and outnumbered. It is a game where the ultimate game over is an ever-present threat, but smaller losses are an inevitable part of progress rather than a reload screen. It is a game whose overarching plot takes second place to the personal stories that most players mentally write about their soldiers, and the unscripted global drama as you desperately hold together an alliance of governments that still doesn't entirely trust you with the final defence of the planet. It is a game where winning and losing does not matter nearly so much as how you get there... and how you choose to try again on your next go around.