Julian Gollop: “AI should be a lot better now”

xcom Julian Gollop

Responding to questions on a Reddit AMA, Julian Gollop, creator of the original XCOM, who is currently working on a remake of Chaos, Chaos: Reborn, criticised the lack of development in game AI.

“AI should be a lot better now,” wrote Gollop, “since the amount of processing power is huge, but I am not convinced it really is that better. The original X-Com had an AI programmed in a few Kb and was designed to run on a 80386 PC. I think the new XCOM does a good job, but it seems more behaviour based and relies a lot on the player triggering stuff. At least that is my impression.”

He had more to say about the state of game development.

Answering another question he said that he “really enjoyed” Firaxis’ take on the XCOM games. “I think Jake Solomon and the team at Firaxis did a really good job. It was tight and focussed with never a dull moment. I like the character progression system a lot.” However, it’s not all praise: “On the downside I was disappointed that there weren’t randomly generated maps and the Geoscape was largely irrelevant.

“There are some things about the new XCOM which are clearly better – a better tutorial, a better interface,” he continued. “The old complex X-COM had a slightly different approach – the aliens had their agenda which progressed no matter what the player did. Things were more systemic and less scripted. I still prefer this approach, but its just not seen in any AAA game these days, let alone the new XCOM.”

And, the thing that I wanted to hear most, Gollop would consider going back to an XCOM-style game: “I have thought about going back to an X-COM style game many times, most recently in 2011, but I stopped thinking about it when Firaxis announced their XCOM game. I would consider a game based on the underlying system though, maybe with a different theme.”

I’d love to see how he would adapt the design to take on the more powerful processors of modern computers but also how what he’s learned in the past 20 years would influence the game’s design.