I know this will likely be taken poorly, as I am 'new' to you and forums have an unspoken protocol that new visitors should speak when spoken to and keep their opinions to themselves until they have read everything...
I am one of those, the x-com junkies from the 80's, who played that game more than any other in my life.
What was it about that game, that made it so unique?
It was a number of things, which I will list.
1. Atmosphere. The game had it in spades. It is the only game I have ever turned off the lights on at 2 in the morning to find some greys in a farmer's field in the middle of the night, and it creeped me out. Signs captured this with the midnight cornfield scene.
2. Multiple levels of game. From the strategic world fighter interception interface, to the squad level battlefield, which was made extra fun because it was destructable, this game had so many facets that were unique. Base building, customization, and a super nice geo-globe to rotate around.
3. Backstory. X-Com drew on the wealth of alien knowledge and literature, some amusing, some real, that made it so interesting. From cattle mutilations to alien abduction to moth men, it was in there.
I have been waiting for years for it's rebirth. Terror from the deep was pathetic in comparison (I'm not sure who thinks they can throw hand grenades under water but apparently x-com programmers do...)
And 3 need not even be mentioned, as it was an abomination.
Finally you guys are bringing it back! Fantastic, I am excited. My ultimate dream (as for many others here) was that one would come out that allowed you to play the alien invaders. Go try Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds as an example of this. Brilliant artwork, story, and plot make it believable. Some lines for you to draw inspiration from:
(taking place shortly after the military hunta stages a coup d'tat on Mars, taking over the peaceful government and setting the path to war with Earth...)
Your comments on an alien version are misguided. It would not be 'too easy', that is what game design is for. You would be forced to carry out numerous complicated missions while under attack from hostile humans and the x-com interception team and fighters. It would, in short, be awesome. But that can wait for a future date and future project. Now on to what you have built so far here.
You seem to be trying to carbon copy x-com enemy unknown. Except for the blaster bombs, which you judge 'unbalanced' even though they come in late in the game and are used against incredible powerful aliens. They were also incredibly fun to use. Simply upping the cost into prohibitive levels would balance the weapon. No, I think you didn't want to bother designing the pathing tool for directing the missile in flight.
Your comments about not including women are valid, given the complexity of the chore you see it as. I am glad you have finally relented to overwhelming pressure from the people paying for this project and are including them.
The strategic map is ok. I understand again the programming limitations you are fighting with. A 3-D engine would have been far better but far costlier.
The interception game appears broken in the demo. It is extremely frustrating to have fighters follow a ufo all day and finally run out of fuel, even when a head on pass interception is not rewarded with an engagement (as it was in the original) this should be fixed.
Alternatively and a much better idea, which is straying into where I'm going next, USE YOUR IMAGINATION, STOP COPYING X-COM!!!
Allow the player to research slight mods to various pieces of equipment in the game, starting with the fighter engines, armour and weapons and fuel range, as well as the chinook. (setting the game in 1970 poses obvious problems solved by the near future setting of x-com which allowed a believable jet powered drop ship able to travel vast distances. A chinook just doesn't cut it...)
Another item you seem to have left out is the fact that the ufo's were doing something. They were not just wandering aimlessly and then generating some random (insert weather disruption, train strafe, ship attack here) they actually LANDED, and performed missions. This needs to be added back in, it all goes into creativity and believability.
The UFO's need to slow down when they get over land, begin their scout mission, start hunting for juicy ripe cattle, whatever. Right now they are flying around doing laps out at sea pretty much wandering aimlessly. It get's boring after an hour, and this is trying to copy a game I would literally stare at FOR HOURS, with the clock in real-time (yes, I am that insane...)
Secondly, you appear to be either carbon-copying x-com, or are at a loss for creative writing. There is a WEALTH of UFO knowledge out there, a lot of it since X-Com came out! Why are you not drawing on it? Do you even know about Whitley Strieber's dedicated site 'Out There' on this? Which contains hundreds of articles for your creative genius? Did you know he wrote The Day After Tomorrow disaster movie, from a conversation he had with an alien/angel/demon/robot...thing he met in a Toronto hotel room? The message from the aliens is that we offed too many scientists in the Holocaust, and now rather than inventing anti-gravity atmosphere vehicles (which is what UFO's are) we are stuck with jets in a gravity well on a planet that is dying and about to experience a rapid onset new ice age. Not to mention some of the aliens coming here like to grow alien-human hybrid thingys, just for the shits and giggles. Or that Close Encounters of the Third Kind is pretty much historical fact. Two of the transferred humans chose to remain on the alien homeworld, btw. All of this stuff is out there, just waiting for you to draw on for inspiration! It's ok! You CAN change the tech tree too! We don't really need to make laser rifles, just 'cause! Add a whole schwack of new stuff!! You can do it! It just takes some imagination! Not a lot of programming really! Just CREATIVE WRITING.
I'd love to help you out with that, but I detect a kind of arrogant tone to your responses, in short, you'll take these fine folks' money but you won't listen too much cause you know what the game is your designing, and that's what your building.
I offer an alternative. Use your imagination and draw on the creative talents of the fine people who have generously given you their hard earned cash. Make this game more than X-Com. And bring it into the modern era of UFOlogy, where so much more is now known. Apparently most of our souls do not die, for example! Neat.
I have downloaded the demo and played it all night. In order to play it a second time I am already forced to hack the fighter stats to make it possible for them to overtake a ufo. This should be just another research arm, as there is a shortage of cool things to research in the beginning anyway. If the player chooses to simply make earth completely impregnable from UFO's but never goes after the main base (please don't tell me it's at Cygdonia again!!!) then so be it! Perhaps make the ending more along the lines of Day After Tomorrow, and we will all die unless we find a way to get to the stars.