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Codex Interview RPG Codex Interview: Julian Gollop on Phoenix Point, One Year Later

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Julian Gollop; Phoenix Point; Snapshot Games

Last year, Julian Gollop's Snapshot Games successfully crowdfunded Phoenix Point as a spiritual successor to the original X-COM games. In practice, Julian has sought a treacherous middle path between X-COM and XCOM, something which has been a source of controversy on our forums, where the game has attracted significant attention. One of our most dedicated Phoenix Point watchers, PanteraNera, decided to send Julian a few questions last month, with a particular focus on the game's strategic Geoscape layer, about which few details were known at the time. It took him a while to respond, but the answers are now here, just in time for the release of the latest backer build. Here's an excerpt:

How will missions be generated on the Geoscape? We've been told that the strategic map will be composed of "points of interest", and that the beginning of the game will have an exploration element, like in a 4X. So the question is, if I've explored all the points of interest around my base, do they cease to exist? Will they be "empty space" from that point on or will new ones be generated?

The current implementation is fairly simple - Points of Interest within range of discovered havens will appear for you to investigate. They could turn out to be other havens, scavenging sites, alien structures or inactive Phoenix Bases. However, there will be additional types of locations that are revealed in different ways - usually connected to the events system. Spying missions can also reveal location much further away. New points of interest will arise based on alien construction, faction construction and special events. Mission types are unusual in that the player effectively decides what he wants out of them rather than having some kind of performance rating. Haven defence is a common mission type where havens will request assistance in defeating an intruder (alien or human). They will usually offer some kind of reward, but after arriving you may find something useful that you can just steal, such as an aircraft, and then abandon the haven to its fate. Naturally you won't get the reward and their will be diplomatic consequences - but you do manage to steal the aircraft. The player can actively deploy squads to various zones inside havens for doing whatever he likes, or he can respond to requests from havens or faction leaders.

There won't be any UFOs flying around in Phoenix Point. The closest thing to that would be the Behemoths that you have to intercept, otherwise it's bye bye haven. But will there be any other "troop movements" in the game, by the Pandoravirus creatures or by the other factions and minor havens? If so, can the player interact with these movements in some way?

The three human factions will construct vehicles and use them to transport goods and personnel between their havens. They will also launch attacks on other havens, or one of your bases. At the moment we are not planning any direct interaction with these vehicle movements, but they will be detectable by radar.

Not much is known about base building so far, other than that the bases are pre-existing locations that have to be found/reclaimed by the player. We've been told that base layouts will be displayed from an overhead perspective, just like the classics. What can the player do in these bases? Can you raze existing facilities (I'm assuming the bases arrive prebuilt)? Build new facilities? How large will the bases be, like a 6x6 grid?

One of the player's main objectives is to located and reactivate the worlds remaining Phoenix bases. They will be in various states of disrepair, but otherwise facilities can be built or razed in a similar manner to the original X-COM, although the space for building may be more or less limited, depending on the location.

We know that you can team up with the three major factions and that each one leads to a different solution for how to beat the Pandoravirus. But how will the player build these alliances? Is it just a matter of doing missions for the other factions, or do we also get to talk to them, with dialogue trees and stuff? Can we barter and trade with the other factions? And will these diplomacy mechanics be based on scripted events, or will the player be able to choose when to engage with them?

The primary way to build an alliance is to fulfil the requests of the different factions. These requests may take the form of haven defences, but could also be special requests relating to the nature of the faction and whims of its leader. For example, Synedrion may ask you to rescue refugees, New Jericho may request help with an internal revolt and Disciples of Anu may desire food supplies to feed their hungry masses. Once you have made contact with faction leaders you can approach directly and there will be a system to interact with them.

Another key aspect of the classic games is research. What do you plan to do with this in Phoenix Point? We know that players will be able to research the Pandoravirus, including its creatures, structures and agenda. But will there be anything else available for research? New technology? New equipment? Will we also get to "research" the other human factions?

There are actually five different research trees - one for Phoenix archives, one each for the three human factions and one for the alien biology. Based on these the player will be able to develop new symbiotic techs. He can also help other factions in their research efforts and gain benefits from it either by alliance, trade or theft. The Phoenix archives research depends on locating other Phoenix bases and uncovers the history of the Phoenix project and the pandoravirus.

I believe the last time you mentioned crafting was on the Phoenix Point Discord channel quite a while ago. If I recall correctly, you said it'd probably be more about maintaining existing equipment than manufacturing anything new. So how is crafting going to work? Will there will be workshops in the game? What will we be able to make?

There will be workshops to manufacture equipment, armour, weapons and vehicles. It's a slow and expensive process, and stealing or scavenging are often easier routes to getting stuff. There are three key resources in the game - materiel, tech, and food. Tech represents hi-tech substances and equipment needed to produce the more advanced items. There are also a number of other items required for production, for example AI units are used in vehicles, and advanced labs and workshops.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Julian Gollop on Phoenix Point, One Year Later
 

PanteraNera

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Julian is an really cool guy, I was upfront honest with him that we have quite a lot hardcore fans of his original X-COM, nevertheless he gave straight and honest answers!
 
Last edited:

Strange Fellow

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Cool interview PanteraNera :salute:
It's been obvious for a while that this would primarily draw on nuXCOM for inspiration, but the bit about "pacing" is still disappointing to read. No geoscape interceptions is also a bummer.
In this respect we are taking elements of the geoscape from X-COM UFO Defense, some ideas from X-COM Apocalypse and some ideas also from a cancelled project called 'Dreamland Chronicles: Freedom Ridge (which we were developing during 2000-2001 before my company, Mythos Games, was liquidated).
Shame there wasn't a follow up on this, it'd be interesting to know specifically what PP will use from Apocalypse; there's a lot of stuff there which hasn't really been tried since.
In retrospect, what do you think went wrong with X-COM: Apocalypse? Were there any ideas for that game that you weren't able to implement? Maybe something that might show up in Phoenix Point?

The ambition of the game was quite high and there were many problems with the artwork, which was being done by MicroProse. It was a struggle to create and building the isometric 3D environments for the game. We didn't actually cut much from the game, apart from the idea of multiple alien dimensions.
More Apocalypse, but the questions aren't really answered. Was there ever any sort of post mortem writeup/interview about this game? Infinitron, you seem to know everything about everything gaming news-related, maybe you know?
 

Infinitron

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Gollop seems to be too busy to answer questions at length. Or maybe that's just his style. Maybe UnstableVoltage can fill in the blanks.
 

PanteraNera

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Gollop seems to be too busy to answer questions at length. Or maybe that's just his style. Maybe UnstableVoltage can fill in the blanks.
To put it in context, he agreed to do 10-20 questions and I asked him to focus on the Phoenix Point related questions.
I was quite surprised that he answered all questions.

As far as I can tell, he really is super busy, but well he is the Lead Designer of the game, does programming and also attends to a lot of events.
 

Shog-goth

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
It's remarkable how an amateur interview is way more better and informative than anything "professional" read so far.
 

Bohrain

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It's remarkable how an amateur interview is way more better and informative than anything "professional" read so far.

"Professionals" often either don't do their homework or feel a need to bring any new reader up to speed meaning they'll usually end up asking the same basic things other people asked before.
 

sser

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Solid~

Gollop seems to be too busy to answer questions at length. Or maybe that's just his style. Maybe UnstableVoltage can fill in the blanks.
To put it in context, he agreed to do 10-20 questions and I asked him to focus on the Phoenix Point related questions.
I was quite surprised that he answered all questions.

As far as I can tell, he really is super busy, but well he is the Lead Designer of the game, does programming and also attends to a lot of events.

He will do Skype calls, btw.
 
Joined
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It's remarkable how an amateur interview is way more better and informative than anything "professional" read so far.

Content created not by the fans of the genre/series, on a tight time schedule, for people who are also not fans of the genre/series and who don't complain about the low quality will always be subpar. The fact that every piece is made for advertising purpose weeds out from the press any potential journalist with critical tendencies.
 

Ladonna

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I think he is the same guy that made Laser squad and another fun little game I remember playing back in the day. In that game you start off as a wizard and create creatures to fight for you, and somewhere on the map are other wizards that do the same, with the objective being to wipe the others out. Wish I could remember the name of that game.
 

Shog-goth

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
I think he is the same guy that made Laser squad and another fun little game I remember playing back in the day. In that game you start off as a wizard and create creatures to fight for you, and somewhere on the map are other wizards that do the same, with the objective being to wipe the others out.

giphy.gif


Wish I could remember the name of that game.

"Chaos: The Battle of Wizards". And recent remake "Chaos Reborn".
 

Darkozric

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"It is bigger primarily because of the amount of artwork and animation invested in environments and characters, rather than game features.". Julian needs 1 year extra time to do more animation!!(who gives a fuck about extra content), LOL. He thinks we're idiots. He's busy to port it to consoles and wanted more money from Microsoft after eating the Fig money. Meanwhile his Bulgarian fascists collaborators are very busy on Facebook and blocking people for their opinion.
 

Farewell into the night

Guest
I think he is the same guy that made Laser squad and another fun little game I remember playing back in the day. In that game you start off as a wizard and create creatures to fight for you, and somewhere on the map are other wizards that do the same, with the objective being to wipe the others out. Wish I could remember the name of that game.

Magic and Mayhem and The Art Of Magic fit the description.
 

PanteraNera

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PanteraNera you should have asked him about the shitty art style decision.
There are still quite a lot of questions I would have loved to get answered. High on that list are the changes to New Jericho, Phoenix Project and the Pandara Virus creatures. As Julian agreed to answer 10-20 questions and I wanted to include the community questions I had to skip these questions. Maybe another time ;).
 

UnstableVoltage

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I think he is the same guy that made Laser squad and another fun little game I remember playing back in the day. In that game you start off as a wizard and create creatures to fight for you, and somewhere on the map are other wizards that do the same, with the objective being to wipe the others out. Wish I could remember the name of that game.

That would have been "Chaos: The Battle of Wizards" (the original at least). I think 1985. Snapshot Games rebooted it back in 2015 with Chaos Reborn - https://store.steampowered.com/app/319050/Chaos_Reborn/
 

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