Phoenix Point Interview: Fighting Constantly Evolving Sea Aliens

Julian Gollop answers some of our questions regarding his team’s upcoming game, Phoenix Point.

Posted By | On 20th, Jun. 2018 Under Article, Interviews

Phoenix Point is an upcoming game that is being made by the creator of X-Com, Jullian Gollop and the team at Snapshot Games. However, this game is quite unique all on its own with procedurally generated enemies which evolve and adapt their strategies according to the player’s actions. The game will also feature a story in which players will discover the secrets behind some sea-based alien creatures.

To learn more about the game and its development, Gamingbolt reached out to the developers with some questions and Jullian Gollop provided the following answers.

Phoenix Point 1

"I don’t own the XCOM name any more, but I still think there is a lot of unexplored ideas which I have had over the years for an XCOM style game"

What made you go with sea-based aliens this time around as opposed to what we’ve usually seen with the XCOM titles?

I read an article about how the sea was filled with viruses, most of which we know little about or have little interaction with. Then I read about the pandoravirus, and how it has a huge, complex genome which again is little understood. Then I imagined this pandoravirus is alien, and it takes over the sea viruses, and ultimately all the sea creatures and then invades the land.

What inspired you to make your own game separate from the XCOM franchise?

I don’t own the XCOM name any more, but I still think there is a lot of unexplored ideas which I have had over the years for an XCOM style game.

The idea of enemies evolving their own tactics against the player’s tactics sounds very cool, but also terrifying. Would this mechanic make the game a bit too difficult for some players?

No, because there is a fair amount of randomness involved in the alien adaptation – at least in the early stages of the game. The player has other advantages, specifically technological advances and domination of the skies.

There seems to be great emphasis on a story shrouded  in mystery. What can you tell us about the narrative in the game?

I can’t say too much without revealing the story, but suffice it to say that it has a strong Lovecraftian theme. There is a lot of backstory about the Phoenix Project having researching a similar outbreak in earth’s prehistory, and how this might be used against the current threat.

What inspired the idea of procedurally generated enemies? Is there also a level of scripting involved to ensure that each encounter remains unique and distinctive?

Procedurally generated enemies gives each play through and each player style a different challenge. There isn’t any scripting to ensure each encounter is unique and distinctive, we just make it highly likely that they will be and the games systems take care of it.

Can you tell us a bit about the different classes we can expect to see in the game?

Each human faction has some unique technology and soldier class in the game. For New Jericho they have a powerful heavy infantry with strong armour and multiple weapons systems. They also have a technician class with neurally connected robotic arms that can fulfill a number of support functions. Disciples of Anu have a beast handler than controls specially bred mutant creatures called mutogs. Synedrion have the most advanced tech, but they use it mostly for defence or infiltration, and their infiltrator class is both stealthy and deadly.

Phoenix Point

"The boss monsters are a bit like battleships with multiple weapons systems and defences, and a whole variety of AI behaviours"

When the aliens develop strategies to counter your own, is there a point at which they might get too powerful? How are you balancing this issue?

Balancing partly comes from the fact that the aliens are responding to your battle victories, rather than pursuing a fixed advancement. They don’t care too much if they are winning, but will go through mutation processes if they are losing.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced during the development of this game?

The procedural generation of environments and aliens is a big challenge, as is the character customisation system. Also, we are setting high goals for the production quality, which is always hard work.

Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect from boss fights in the game?

The boss monsters are a bit like battleships with multiple weapons systems and defences, and a whole variety of AI behaviours. They will usually be quite unique and memorable. One interesting thing is that the monsters are persistent characters with a specific lair, and if they survive a battle they will get stronger and strike again.

This seems to be a game that is all about high risks with tensions constantly running high. Is there any change of pace during different sections to slow things down?

There will be some ebb and flow, depending on the strategic situations and actions of the other human factions, but it will get progressively difficult just to survive while a solution to the alien threat is devised.

So any chance we could see a PS4, Xbox One and Switch versions soon?

If we have sufficient resources we will certainly consider other platforms, but we have no plans as yet.

Finally, would  you like to add anything more before you go?

Just to say that finally we have a great team in place at Snapshot Games to make the game I have been wanting to make for the last 18 years. It’s the most exciting and interesting project I have ever worked on, and I am sure it will be something special.

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