Scary thought: We almost lived in a world where a tactical wizard-on-wizard RPG from the creator of X-COM would never have been. Julian Gollop's Chaos RebornKickstarter campaign teetered between nabbing the public's monetary thumbs-up or the eldritch maw of oblivion as it entered its final week of funding earlier this month, with Gollop himself tweeting the "nail-biting conclusion" of the drive's dwindling hours. At the 34-hour mark, the campaign's Summon Moneydollars spell finally reached the $180,000 goal, climbing over $210,000 in funding by the timer's end.
Tactical game-wizard Julian Gollop wants to recreate Chaos, the tactical game about wizards. To do so, the X-Com creator has summoned up a Kickstarter, asking for $180,000 of crowdfunded support. That Kickstarter is now in its final week, and with only $135,000 raised, Chaos Reborn's chances are uncertain. So how do you secure some last-minute interest in a game? You let people play it.
For strategy gamers, Julian Gollop is a name of hallowed reverence. His Belt of Achievements includes pre-millenium classics such as Laser Squad and Chaos. Most notably, he created the X-COM series of turn-based tactical alien fragging and directed 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense—widely considered one of the best strategy games ever made. The franchise spent some time in the engineering bay before returning in 2012 with Firaxis' excellent Enemy Unknown, but Gollop has lately turned to crowdsourced funding with a small team to develop his multiplayer wizard-em-up reboot Chaos Reborn. In an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on Reddit last weekend, Gollop answered questions on his take of the current state of strategy games, alternate funding, and the rise of early access.
As Kickstarter reboots go, I suspect Chaos Reborn might be attempting to resurrect one of the oldest games yet. The original Chaos was released in 1985 - meaning it came out three years before inXile's similarly revived Wasteland. Julian Gollop, best known as the creator of X-Com: UFO Defense and/or UFO: Enemy Unknown, is now casting Kickstarter necromancy on his classic ZX Spectrum turn-based fantasy strategy.
Some PC Gamer readers may recognize Julian Gollop's name from our previous interviews with the developer. If you don't, his PC game development credentials should impress you: he designed 1997's X-COM Apocalypse and directed 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense, aka UFO: Enemy Unknown, aka the original X-COM. In 1985 he also made a turn-based tactics game for Games Workshop called Chaos: The Battle Wizards, which he now wants to remake with your help on Kickstarter.
XCOM's lean and wiry Sectoids may be the new poster-xenos for brutal alien invasions, but thanks to OpenXCom, there's still life left in their smaller, slower and pudgier cousins from 1994. The fan-made, open-source version of the original X-Com: UFO Defense (UFO: Enemy Unknown if you prefer) has been in the making for 4 years. With this latest 0.9 release, it's been given an ending - meaning it's finally possible to drive back the attack and save humanity. Unlikely, but possible.
Julian Gollop interview: on X-Coms old and new, the Ghost Recon strategy game that never was, AI, auteurs and "Fork My Fruit"
Julian Gollop is a 27+ year veteran of the industry. He can list classics like Chaos, Laser Squad and, of course, X-Com, on his long career resume. As Firaxis successfully reboot X-Com for modern audiences with Enemy Uknown, Gollop has donned indie threads to pursue a current remake of his multiplayer wizard-duelling game, fittingly named Chaos Returns. I caught up with him for an affable chat about his work on the original X-Com, progress on the new Chaos game, and his thoughts on how the great machine of modern development compares to the tiny teams in operation during the turn-based-strategy boom.
As Julian Gollop told us yesterday, now that his most famous creation - XCOM - has been remade, his obsession with replicating it has gone. Instead, he's flashing back even further to a game so old very few readers will remember it; one of the missing links of gaming, Chaos. Gollop's Chaos Reborn will be out some time in 2014. At GDC we talked with him about the game's origins, the changed mechanics and the new meta-game he's introducing.
X-Com creator Julian Gollop on how he would have designed Enemy Unknown differently, and why it would have failed
It’s well-recognised that PC Gamer favourite XCOM was lost in rights-hell for years until Firaxis rescued it last year. In a charmingly open interview at GDC, UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-COM co-creator Julian Gollop revealed how he felt about the new game, how he would have changed it - and why it would have failed.
“I would have designed it differently, for sure.” says Gollop, of the new game. “Would it have been as successful as the new XCOM? Probably not. No, I'm afraid.”
X-COM creator Julian Gollop on "brute force" blockbuster game development and the lost promise of intelligent AI
In a genial interview, strategy-game elder statesman and creator of the original X-COM: UFO Defense Julian Gollop talked to us about his imagined alternate history of gaming, his preference for procedural systems, and how he feels modern games have abandoned the promise of advanced AI in favour of shinier visuals and reward mechanics designed to massage players' egos.
Gollop first came to GDC in 1995, to discuss AI, when turn-based strategy games like UFO / X-COM were the cutting edge, just as RTS was taking over. “In those days, I believed firmly that the future of computer games was all about AI. That in twenty years time we'd be interacting with NPC characters in computer games that actually had real intelligence and could respond to you in really intelligent ways. Boy, I was wrong. So wrong!”
In 2000, six years after its release, X-Com: UFO Defense had sold 470,000 games and made the Gollop brothers just over £1 million in royalties. But, according to Julian Gollop at his GDC post-mortem of the game - it nearly didn't happen. Twice in the project's development it faced cancellation and, for a brief while, it was officially dead. Sure, had it not been revived we'd have been spared from Enforcer. But at what cost?
Julian Gollop wrote a new entry in his work blog today detailing the asynchronous and regular multiplayer modes of Chaos Reborn, the remake of his 1985 ZX Spectrum classic Chaos: The Battle of Wizards. The basic bones are in place—account creation, map layout, and even a shiny "End Turn" button—but lots of work remains before we're able to scoot across hexes to blast each other with fireballs.
When XCOM: Enemy Unknown producer Jake Solomon told us he considers original XCOM creator Julian Gollop as a "personal hero," it heralded the steep reverence Firaxis charged into Enemy Unknown's eerily glowing roots from the 1994 turn-based favorite. Strong sales and review accolades vindicated Firaxis' efforts, but in a Eurogamer report, Gollop himself declared the studio did "a great job" interpreting XCOM its own way.
It's been a while since we last checked in with Julian Gollop's Chaos remake/sequel/remaquel Chaos Reborn, and in that time he's outlined a detailed feature list, shared his thoughts on wizard vulnerability (that's a band name right there), and even uploaded an early version of the map/terrain editor for our edification. You can grab it here if you fancy messing around with the program Gollop's using to make Chaos Reborn's maps (albeit with basic placeholder graphics at the moment).
On Friday, X-COM co-creator Julian Gollop broke the news that he's remaking his ZX Spectrum classic Chaos, and we were too busy doing a dance about his return to PC strategy games to think about how, why, when or which. Now that the dust has settled, Julian has set up a new blog to answer some of these questions, his first post revealing why he's bringing Chaos back after so many years.
In ridiculously exciting news, X-COM co-creator Julian Gollop has announced a sequel to his 1985 ZX Spectrum game Chaos: The Battle of Wizards. He dropped the bombshell on twitter just now, revealing that it will be a sequel/remake for iOS, Mac and of course PC.