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  1. A look at the influences and sources of one of the most inspired computer games. “I remember going out and buying a video tape of the old Gerry Anderson UFO TV series, and the thing that inspired me from that was the idea of having a worldwide organisation that was set up to stop this alien menace.”- Julian Gollop When Rebelstar Raiders creator, Julian Gollop, approached Microprose with ideas for a sequel to his Laser Squad title, it was suggested that the tactical, turn based game should take on a much larger scope, in keeping with games like Civilisation. From that meeting it was decided that the theme of protecting Earth from the threat of UFOs would supply the general strategic background to the title. Gollop combined elements of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation TV shows, particularly UFO, with themes from UFOlogy, especially books by Timothy Good such as Above Top Secret and Alien Liaison. There are many themes relating to UFOlogy within X-Com. They combine in subtle ways, to provide an intriguing and unsettling backdrop against which to combat the alien forces, attempting to dominate the planet. This series of posts looks at the game and highlights its sources. The many elements used by Gollop often provide a more coherent background than a subject that is rife with hoaxes and disinformation. Organisations “Many elements of this UFOlogy went into the game, and the concept of X-Com as a secretly funded organisation is based on the alleged existence of MJ12, a government sponsored group of leading scientists and military personnel.”- Julian Gollop [table=width: 730, class: grid, align: left] [tr] [td] [/td] [td] Formation Both X-Com, (Extraterrestrial Combat Unit), and SHADO, (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation), have very similar backgrounds. Both are clandestine organisations formed to combat the growing threat that unidentified flying objects and related events pose to humanity. It is a threat that is considered to be beyond the capabilities of a single nation to combat. In both backgrounds we have attempts by individual countries to find out more about the aliens. The X-Com background has Kiryu-Kai fail to successfully intercept a single craft. In UFO it is a British cabinet minister who is killed upon receiving firm evidence of the aliens’ existence. They both realise a larger organisation is required. In UFOlogy, Majestic -12 was formed from the US military elite following the key event of the Roswell incident of 1947, where an alien craft crash landed into the New Mexico desert. Majestic -12 operates within the largest military budget on the planet, from a country with a strong global military and industrial links. The inherent irony of X-Com is that you are controlling an organisation that in UFOlogy circles are considered to be the bad guys. The secretive, manipulative conspiracy based group are just who are needed in the world’s hour of need. Both SHADO & X-COM operate on a global scale with impressive funding and the ability to recruit the best personnel and the most advanced weaponry and facilities. A month after its inception, X-COM makes its first successful alien interception. UFO also begins at a key moment, the first capture of a live alien. This event justifies the ten years that Commander Straker has spent building up the organisation. Majestic -12 would operate within the world of the escalating Cold War, where any potential threat to security was investigated. The feeling of escalation, and overwhelming dread, is a common theme throughout all three organisations. [/td] [td] [/td] [/tr] [tr] [td] [/td] [td] Base of Operations X-Com allows for the creation of underground bases across the world, with the option to construct and manage a number of facilities. Likewise, in UFO, SHADO operated from an underground base, 80ft beneath the cover of a film studio outside London. The head of SHADO HQ, Commander Straker, accesses the base via an access lift which doubles as his office. In X-Com the key access point to the base is the Access Lift. In UFOlogy, there are endless debates over what the facilities are at secret US government installations, and not so secret installations such as Area-51, in the Nevada Test & Training Range. Area 51 has long links with test flying the latest of US military aircraft; craft so unusual as to be considered beyond the capabilities of man. As with the other two organisations, the bulk of the facilities are considered to be underground. The Cold War resulted in numerous nations building secret underground facilities to be used in case of nuclear attack or for other clandestine purposes. Alien bases, constructed with the assistance of the USS government are also invariably placed well underground. Following the UFO crashes of the late 1940s there have also been rumours of facilities in which the aliens survived in captivity, the equivalent of X-Com’s Alien Containment.[/td] [td] [/td] [/tr] [tr] [td] [/td] [td] Starting Troops Both X-Com and UFO feature coverall clad personnel disembarking from cramped vehicles into the sights and range of aliens and their craft. Their goals are invariably to capture or kill all aliens present and secure their equipment and craft for the retrieval teams. In Majestic -12 the retrieval teams are also the ground troops of their organisation, with Red and Blue teams assigned to secure evidence and knowledge. They follow the procedures contained within the Special Operations Manual. A copy of the manual dated 1954 has been leaked. UFO frequently showed a blend of all colours and genders, which had an influence in the personnel available for X-Com missions. They are led by Commander Straker, and Commander is also the top rank in X-Com. One of the main inherent strengths of X-Com is that is not only captures one state of it’s world and organisation, but can develop them over time adding the fruits of it’s research to better arm and equip its soldiers. Claims by retired Colonel Phillip Corso state that a number of technological advancements, such as fibre optics, have been made from retrieved alien technology. [/td] [td] [/td] [/tr] [td] [/td] [td] Funding “X-Com, however, is a truly international force funded by many countries.“- Julian Gollop Despite the Earth being under attack, X-Com does not operate with infinite resources. It’s funding is carefully controlled by a group of funding nations. X-Com is provided with a strict budget. The funding nations alter the funding levels based on the success of X-Com or the level of alien influence within their own boundaries. This mirrors the UFO series where SHADO’s purse strings were controlled by the International Astro-physical Commission. Its chairman General Henderson regularly reminded Straker about the possibility of funding being withdrawn without progress being made against the alien threat. [/td] [td] [/td] [/table]
  2. Will there be any research topics or Xenopaedia entries that explain what the types of alien missions are. What they are actually looking to accomplish. For example:Scouting missions, research missions, terror missions, superiority missions etc Likewise, Xenopaedia entries for the types of craft that you have encountered. Just the sort of research you used to get if you interrogated navigators etc back in EU94. While, having played the original, I might know what the missions are and what ships do what, it would surely add to the fun and immersion of a new player?
  3. I came across the review that got me into X-Com way back in the '90s. At the time, I had no idea it was from the same guy who had brought out Rebelstar Raiders.
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