Wednesday, June 22, 2016

X-Com War Diaries, Part I - Long War Incomplete

The date is March 2017. It is one year after the X-Com project was activated. Our interceptor fleet has three brand new Firestorm aircraft, and even our modified Ravens are shooting the aliens out of the sky on a regular basis. Our troops are armed with plasma weapons and titan armour, taken back base after base from the invaders, and repelled an alien assault on X-Com HQ. The hyperwave beacon is mere days from activation, and several soldiers are mastering the new art of psionics. It has taken me over 150 missions and God knows how many hours to get to this point in this, my sixth attempt, and completing the Long War mod seems to be an attainable goal at last. I load up my Ironman game, eager to get into the last stages of the campaign. The game loads. And loads. And loads.

The Long War refuses to be beaten.


ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

I restart the game. My save refuses to load.

NO.

I restart my computer. My save refuses to load. All I'm looking at is the orange X-Com unit badge revolving around and around and around.

HELL NO.

I trawl Reddit, the Steam forums, the 2K forums, and the Nexus mods site looking for a solution. The consensus is the same - I am shit out of luck.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

I have to start again. Unbelievable. The first and second playthroughs were dry runs. The third was the seminal playthrough in which most of the characters and events in my fan fiction piece were established, but was abandoned because I started cheating by using Alt-F4 to save characters I grew to like from terrible fates. The fourth and fifth playthroughs were clumsy attempts to try and recreate the events and characters of the third, and they, too, were abandoned because I started cheating. This is my sixth playthrough. I was good. I didn't cheat. I took my lumps and said farewell to dozens of good soldiers who were shot, blown up, eviscerated, and impregnated by aliens. My memorial wall had over 70(!) names by the end game. It was painful, but the game was never dull because of it. But now this...?!?

I like X-Com. So I'm going to start again. When I first started writing the Long War story, my intention was simply to document the adventures of my band of soldiers in my Long War playthrough. These next series of posts is an attempt to get back to that idea, which has long since been overtaken by the sprawling, unwieldy fictional tale now in its place. I'm not abandoning my fan fiction piece - I just need a break from writing it. I'm also playing more games this month - Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Darkest Dungeon are all interspersed between moments playing either X-Com or X-Com 2, which means less time for writing. I recently finished X-Com 2 on Veteran Ironman - the release of the Alien Hunters DLC seemed to be an opportune moment to pick up and play that title again. This time around I also used a Jagged Alliance mod which allowed me to use voices from the Jagged Alliance series for my X-Com 2 soldiers. This mod really made me happy as a long time fan of both the X-Com and Jagged Alliance series. For whatever reason though I still can't get behind X-Com 2 as much as I can the original remake, especially with the Long War mod. The fact that I still haven't finished the Long War actually tells me that I like the game a lot.

I tried mightily to reconcile my playthroughs with the stories and characters developing in the fan fiction piece, but those two things are just diverging further and further apart, despite the fact that the fan fiction began from the events and characters in my third playthrough. The third playthrough was where the story's characters first took shape, and determined the events and locales in the story. France was the first country to leave X-Com in that particular campaign, so I chose it as the first country targeted for alien infiltration in the story. Ogbomosho was the site of the first alien terror attack, and so I wrote an arc about chryssalids running amok in Nigeria. The game was solely responsible for choosing these locales, and I just fleshed out the details around them. Even character names (not the call signs, however) were established in the third playthrough, and since that time I've been renaming soldiers in subsequent playthroughs to bring them in line with established characters created in my third game.

This time around I'll let the schism widen, and cease all attempts to reconcile the two branches. The Long War piece will evolve on its own. This series will just be a recounting of my seventh playthrough as it unfolds, and I'll keep it very meta and "gamey" to differentiate between the two. I will continue to try and recreate the characters in the fan fiction in game as well, but there won't be any deus ex machina interventions to ensure they attain certain ranks or avoid terrible deaths. What will be, will be. As to how the events in the game will affect the fan fiction piece, that remains to be seen. But I'm thinking that if someone dies in this seventh playthrough, then it should ripple across to the fan fiction universe, too. I'm also still determined to link the outcome of the game to the outcome of the story. I made the same resolution for campaign number six, and things looked good for the human defenders until my save file decided to take a dump and kill off my playthrough. Hrm. Meta alien intervention perhaps?

Here we go again. For the seventh time. 

Stakes are high, X-Com. Time to go to work.

3 comments:

  1. Man, I feel bad for you.
    Good luck on your next playthrough

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    Replies
    1. Thanks man. Part of me is kind of happy that I have to start again, as perverse as that sounds.

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  2. Damn, was just getting into it. I support your decision on where to go next, but I would have love to see this end even in failure to setup a story in xcom 2

    ReplyDelete