(From the manual)
It is the year 1999. Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) have started appearing with distrubing regularity in the night skies. Reports of violent human abductions and horrific experimentation has truck terror into the hearts of millions. Mass public hysteria has only served to expose Earth's impotence against a vastly superior technology.
On December 11, 1998, representatives from the world's most economically powerful counties gathered secretly in Geneva. After much debate, they decision was made to establish a covert independent body to combat, investigate, and defeat the alien threat. The organization would be equipped with the world's finest pilots, soldiers, scientists, and engineers, working together as one multi-national force.
This organization was named the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit.
Wait, what the heck is this?
For shame. X-Com is one of the finest strategy games ever made, and despite being over a decade old is still a joy to play. Even modern games don't have anywhere near the options and possibilities of X-Com, and the graphics, while low resolution, have aged surprisingly well.
In X-Com the player takes control of an organization to defend the earth from an alien invasion. Starting with a single military base and the ability to purchase terran aircraft and firearms, the organization must take the fight to the aliens, steal fragments of their advanced technology and gradually research how it works in labs. To have any hope of success it will have to grow into a globe spanning force with advanced weapons and spacecraft capable of going one on one with the alien invaders.
So what do I do?
Reader interaction in this LP will take three forms. First of all, I'll take votes for certain decisions, like where to place our first base and how we should load out the transport. See the end of this update for the first of these votes.
Second, readers can elect to join X-Com as a soldier, scientist, or engineer. Soldiers get to die horribly, but there's also the slim chance they'll get to rise up through the ranks. Scientists will get to pick projects to work on, decyphering alien technology and developing new weapons for the soldiers. And Engineers get to decide which of those toys to spend their limited time and resources building.
Rookies: Rookies will be given a gun and pointed at a UFO. Should the organization become rich enough, rookies might also be given personal armor and access to laser and plasma weapons.
Squaddies: Squaddie is the title the game gives to any soldier that's gotten some combat experience without being cut down in a torrent of burning plasma. Squaddies will be issued armor and advanced weapons as available.
Sergeant: Highly capable soldiers are promoted to Sergeant when a position is open. Sergeants get first choice at the newest armor and weapons out of the workshop.
Captain: Captains are the elite of the combat force. In addition to the best equipment, if anyone manages to make captain they will be in charge of their unit, and can try their hand at commanding the battles (I'll send you the save, and you play while I comment).
Commander: Second to the highest rung in the X-Com hierarchy, any commanders will be put in charge of the base they're stationed at and can decide what base facilities to build and new staff to hire (Lacking a commander, I'll make the choices).
Colonel: Leader of X-Com, there can only be one colonel at any one time. If anyone makes Colonel, they'll get to decide on new bases to form, and plan attacks on alien bases both on and off Earth.
Scientists: Scientists get to decide projects to research. Each scientist will be a project leader in charge of an equal number of scientists. To keep things from getting unreasonable I'm capping the number of project leaders at 1 for every 10 scientists. You can work together with other project leaders to get a certain research done faster, of course. Post what you want to research, and what you want to research when that finishes.
Engineer: Engineers make the items once the scientists have researched them. Manufacturing costs money and most alien devices require resources we get from salvaging alien crafts, so pick wisely. Like scientists, all engineers will be in charge of a group of atleast 10.
Last but not least, don't be a dick. Saying you want to be a sniper is fine, taking nothing but stun rods and smoke grenades is not. Ditto to the scientists and engineers.
A third way readers can participate is by commenting on the videos. Battles in X-Com can take a good bit of time, and having people talking will help keep it entertaining for everyone else. Also, since we'll be recording in real time, you can give advice and make bets about how many rookies will die.
Decisions and more decisions
Time to start. The first decision is where to place our first (and for the first few months, probably only) base. There's a good bit of strategy in this decision. X-Com is funded collectively by the richest nations on earth, and depending on our results they can increase their funding, maintain it, decrease it, or ally with the aliens against us. Compounding this, the radar installations we can build in the bases have limited range, as do our fighter craft (the transport, on the other hand, is capable of circling the globe without refueling). The two most popular choices are North American (Covering USA and Canada) and Western Europe (Covering England, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy). A distant third is Southeast Asia covering China, Japan, and Eastern Russia. The exact funding amounts are random in each game, but here's an example from a game I just started:
Once we pick a location, we'll also need a name for the base. It should be somethign majestic and inspiring, to show earth we will protect them (Note: I expect it will actually have something to do with wangs). Once we pick a location, we're given a pre-fab starter base:
This base is pretty poorly designed (When aliens attack your base, they enter through the lift and hangars, so a good base design isolates those areas to give you time to gather and equip a defense force).
We also have a little bit of starting equipment:
Stingray, Avalanche and cannon are weapons for our two interceptors (each of which can hold two weapons, currently each has a stingray and a cannon). Avalanche is the longest range, cannon is the shortest. I'll probably requip both with avalanche launchers (well worth the money, two interceptors with avalanches can take down anything short of a battleship if they get lucky). The rest is equipment for our ground troops, rather self explanatory.
Lastly, we start with 8 soldiers, 10 scientists, 10 engineers, 2 interceptors, and 1 skyranger transport. As mentioned, the interceptors can each use two weapons, and the transport can hold 14 soldiers and 80 pieces of equipment.
Of much more use then our paltry starting equipment is our starting funds of four million dollars. So our next vote is shopping time! This is less a vote then taking suggestions that I'll do my best to accomodate, really.
We can expand our base:
As well as hire personnel and purchase equipment.
Again, mostly self-explanatory. We can put tanks in our transport, but they take the space of 4 soldiers (so the transport could hold 14 soldiers, or 10 soldiers and 1 tank, or 6 soldiers and 2 tanks, etc.) They only count as one piece of equipment, though. If there are any questions on equipment, I can post a screenshot of their information page.
For our scientists, since we havn't captured any alien tech yet, you can only work on more advanced developments of earth tech. Three choices: Laser Weapons (leads to laser pistol, then laser rifle, and other surprises down the laser tree), motion detectors, and medi-kits.
Engineers can't build anything yet, but can start as soon as the scientists come up with something.
lowlylowlycook - Developed Laser pistol and Laser rifle
Burnage - Currently researching Heavy Plasma with no end in sight
YerMum - Helped Develop the laser rifle. Researching Alien Alloys
Richter Pil - Signed up
VeritasVR - Idle
Cynic Jester - Application recieved
Digger Dude - Application recieved
Devoir - Rookie
Chenjesu - Squaddie, carries a pistol, motion detector, and lots of grenades
Olivaw - Squaddie
Lork - Sergeant
Durandal4532 - Rookie
Velmeran - Squaddie, carries a laser rifle, high explosive, grenades, smoke grenade, and stunrod
Kerdos - Captain
TheOtherHorseman - Rookie
JamesDM - Sergeant
Bill Cosby - Rookie, uses rifles
Zen Vulgarity - Squaddie
Igel - Squaddie, carries electro flare and smoke grenade
Themocaw - Rookie, medic carries a pistol, stunrod, and grenades
Anthelion - Signed up
Zombiemambo - Signed up
Roshin - Signed up
Silpheed - Signed up, Laser rifle -> Heavy plasma
AchtungBaby - Signed up
Valkun - Signed up, Sniper -> Psi
Rookie - Signed up
Tiemler - Signed up, carries high explosives
Kelor - Signed up
Jam Warrior - Signed up
Cohsae - Signed up, not first out of transport
Karl - Signed up
Zampano - Signed up
Newbie McRedshirt (Mr Ray) - Signed up - Carries stun prod
EspantaPajaro - Signed up
GenericFan - Signed up
mr weenis - Signed up
Estoc - Signed up, carries an autocannon with HE ammo
Klyka - Signed up, wants laser rifle
Khavall - Signed up
JerikTelorian - Died in firefight with sectoid while storming UFO #1
Redstormpopcorn - Died while attempting to throw a grenade into UFO #2
Son of Jerik Telorian - Signed up for REVENGE