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The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – premature announcement

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Five members of 2K Marin took to Reddit to answer questions about The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. When the topic turned to the early news that it would be an FPS, their answer was simple – the game was announced too early.

Most people were pretty upset when news and images emerged that XCOM was going first person. Erik Caponi, lead narrative designer explained:

Game development is a process. You don’t have an idea, plonk it down, and then build what you had in your head. You try things. You see what works. You put stuff on the screen and see how it plays. It’s something that non-developers don’t realize. For everything you see on the screen in a shipping game, there was a TON of stuff that was tried and thrown away.

So, the interesting thing about the history of the earlier version of The Bureau, is that you guys got to see behind the curtain a bit and see some of that sausage being made. The game (and full disclosure, that version of it was before my time here), was announced too early, before the process had really been seen through to the best and most credible version of the game.

However, despite the change in approach, it has taken a long time for people to accept the new, true nature of The Bureau. Nik Karlsson, senior product manager explained:

In 2010 and 2011 the devs were still fine tuning the concept for what an XCOM shooter really is. It’s hard to consistently tell fans what to expect of a game when the concept for that game is still being baked. Once we knew The Bureau was a very challenging, very tactical, very calculated third-person shooter we went to work telling the world about it. I feel like we’ve finally overcome the education hurdle that was in front of us, for the most part people understand that this game is no longer a FPS, and it’s no longer a detective game, it’s a tactical third-person shooter that’s reflective of the core XCOM tenants.

It turns out fans and gaming press really dig our 1960s cold war setting, our original gameplay mechanics, and the XCOM origin story that we’re telling. We captured those aspects of The Bureau in our recent live action video series with Dominic Monaghan and that enthusiasm for The Bureau has spread and become contagious.

I wonder if we won’t be seeing similar problems for games and development in the future. We are all so desperate for news about the games we know and love, development houses must feel it as a constant demand for information. Unfortunately, this can lock down elements early on in the development cycle, instead of giving studios the freedom to experiment with a variety of approaches and styles.

XCOM was able to break free, but how many other developers are stuck with ideas that don’t actually work that well.  As much as I want new news, pictures and videos for games I love, it’s not always the best idea to peak behind the curtain.


Last Updated: August 19, 2013

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