The XCOM Saga, introduction
by Dan Repperger
In 1994, MicroProse released the turn-based strategy game, known in North America as X-COM: UFO Defense. It’s been called a “cult classic”. If that’s the case, then I’m a member. From placing the first base to killing my first gray, I was hooked. I loved the deep level of control and customization, the unfolding mystery, and the implied human drama. Two years later, when Will Smith famously said, “Oh no, you did not just shoot that green s**t at me,” I knew exactly how he felt.
It wasn’t long after the game’s release that a character editor dropped. I immediately grabbed it, mostly to fix the absurd inability of the world’s greatest soldiers to shoot targets in the neighboring square. But then I decided to go a step further. While I won’t be so arrogant as to claim I was the first human being to think of this, I was the first in my circle of friends to edit all of the characters to be people I knew. I then played out the saga while my friends watched, doing my best to roleplay each of them and then describe the interactions occurring back at base. I skipped over Terror from the Deep, but I repeated the storytelling in Apocalypse.
When the reboot was announced by Firaxis, I was ecstatic. But the first thing I started searching for wasn’t screenshots or which alien races would be included — it was whether you’d be able to edit your characters into the image of your friends. As anyone that’s played the game knows, you can. So in keeping with my tradition of 18 years, I’m running the game with people I know and telling the story as it unfolds in the game. Whatever occurs during play is kept as canon; I don’t reload to get the outcome I want. The only role I play is choosing actions based on what I know of these people and then describing the human drama during and between missions.
Since I lacked a live audience, I started recording my story in Facebook posts. Several people have asked me to move it to the blog, so that’s what I’ll start doing in the next post.