I feel sorry for the Gollops some times. Must be hard to hit a home run so early in your career and then chase it the rest of your lives...The Story of X-Com
(interview with Julian Gollop)http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2010-11-28-the-story-of-x-com-interview
So we made the demo, and it had a basic working tactical combat system, but with 3D isometric graphics so it looked more impressive. We had a shortlist of three publishers, one of which was Microprose. We were particularly keen on them, because they published Civilization, of course. We thought they were the best company for strategy games because of Sid Meier, and we wanted to do games for PC, because we saw it as the future of gaming.
We took the demo to Microprose in the UK, and they liked what they saw, but they said that they wanted something bigger. It wasn't a Microprose game; it needed to be something deep. There was a guy there called Pete Moreland, who suggested the theme of UFOs, and I thought this was a very good idea. So I went away and we came up with the whole strategic aspect of the game, with randomly-generated tactical missions, the Geoscape, the economics. In a couple of weeks I went back to them and said, "How about this?" and they thought it was great! So we started on X-Com, which was what Laser Squad II had become.
Maybe that's why the sequels and wannabes don't tend to measure up. They're just trying to emulate a famous game rather than doing something else that morphed almost organically into X-Com.
In the "hindsight is 20-20 department" (though I've run into gamers who vehemently defend X-Com: Apocalypse, the Gollops themselves aren't among them), talking about their decision to agree to let MicroProse crank out X-COM: From the Deep quickly while they spent 2 years on Apocalypse:
We earned lots of cash from X-Com, so we hired more staff at Mythos. But the deal that Microprose wanted was that they did the Apocalypse graphics. It was a disastrous relationship from the start. They had some very fancy, rather expensive ideas: they hired some relatively famous artist who made physical models of the aliens, which were then scanned into their software. It didn't work very well. The Microprose artists couldn't quite understand how isometric graphics worked. It was enormously difficult, and I think overall the artwork was done pretty poorly on that game.
It was a disaster area. Apocalypse was quite a sophisticated and ambitious game, but it was a big mistake from our point of view. In retrospect, we should have originally agreed to do a sequel in six months, and spent a year doing it, like they did! It would've been a lot better.
He also touches a bit on the famous (infamous?), canceled Dreamland Chronicles: Freedom Ridge. Although being wistful about that is probably like being wistful about Simtex's canceled Guardians: Agents of Justice, though there are folks who claim to have tried a late G:AoJ build and found it atrocious. Still, things that never were tend to always have that glare of "could have been" nostalgia about 'em.
And a very interesting project for the upcoming 3DS:
Julian now develops for Ubisoft. His current project is Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, a squad-level turn-based tactical game, and launch-title for the Nintendo 3DS.
If you go to Nintendo's official 3DS site, and click the "Other Games" tab at the bottom, the Ghost Recon game is there with some preliminary screenshots:http://e3.nintendo.com/3ds/
(from August, maybe already mentioned in the console section but I can't keep track