Taking the "X-COM" out of X@COM?

by Kyzrati on 20130527 , under

Well, yes and no.

What I mean is the game is going to be re-branded with a different name and content while keeping the same mechanics and premise--you'll still be leading an organization tasked with defending Earth against aliens; soldiers, battlescape, geoscape, bases, craft, and all. This will enable more freedom in both design and fundraising. (If you *really* want to play the original in ASCII form, I'm sure a mod will be able to help you with that--we more or less have one already, minus the geoscape.)

We don't really need another X-COM clone, anyway, which X@COM is already decidedly not, so... first thing's first: we need a new name to
  • preferably represent what the game will be (or at least some aspect thereof)
  • get at least a little further away from "X-COM"
  • be easier to search for, '@' characters not being all that search engine friendly
  • be pronounceable ;p
Since this plan has been in the back of my head for a quite a while now, I've already had plenty of time to come up with, mull over, and throw out the window lots of ideas. The only one that's stuck to date: Company X.

While X@COM is not a clone and does/will include lots of additional features, it obviously has its roots in X-COM (as well as some of the trunk as well, considering core mechanics and gameplay), so I preferred a name that still embodied those roots (okay, trunk), hence the 'X', and "Com..." (cleverly reversed, mind you!)

In 1973 a close group of respected scientists exploring the entertaining possibility of alien life on Earth made an important discovery. Although based purely on a confluence of soft evidence, it appeared that aliens really could be responsible for a series of unexplained and seemingly unrelated events across the globe in recent years.

While they couldn't take their views to the public without risking their reputations in the scientific community, they were convinced that given more time and information it might be possible to piece together enough evidence to prove the Earth was in fact under alien surveillance for an unknown purpose.

They called themselves "The Company," a joking reference to not being alone on the planet.

Uniquely positioned to gain access to normally restricted data, The Company slowly pieced together behavioral profiles and hypothesized about technological advancements behind various unnatural phenomena, all rooted in real science. For several years they silently investigated and monitored suspected alien activity, even developing technology capable of detecting Unidentified Flying Objects and tracking them for a short distance.

It is now the year 1985, and the aliens are becoming more aggressive. No longer are incidents limited to brief sightings and random abductions. Inexplicable small-scale attacks have begun to shake the public psyche even as governments are quick to initiate cover-ups and attribute them to terrorists.

The Company decides it's time to act.

Through one part pattern analysis, one part behavioral science, and two parts luck, they successfully predict the next target site. Acting in coordination with local law enforcement contacts, they have an entire squad of officers briefed and waiting in ambush when two armed aliens arrive at the scene, immediately surprising and subduing them before they can react.

Major world governments are impressed at the group's success, and unanimously agree to fund them as a new independent initiative tasked with combating the alien threat in all its forms. Knowledge of the alien threat is not yet ready to be brought before the public, thus the deal is kept secret and for now the group appears on government defense ledgers as simply "Company X."

The term "Company" can be taken in the military, economic, or even "group" sense. Obviously you're leading a paramilitary organization, as well as essentially a company what with manufacturing and selling equipment on the side to supplement income...

The story is not incredibly unique, just another possible way such an organization could be formed that covers most of the necessary bases while keeping it generic enough that it could play out in any number of ways from your starting point.

More or less this same news was first posted yesterday on Bay 12, so you can check there for other responses if interested.

Unfortunately while the name fits the theme, series, and story fairly well, it isn't all that amazing on its own as a name, which is definitely a drawback. I've also come up with an alternative which stands on its own pretty well and you may prefer instead: Xenocorps.

The good thing is, either name could essentially use the same logo concept I'm rather fond of (which is really just a modified X@COM logo, at that):

What do you think about all this? (Before you suggest it, just this afternoon I was thinking of other names and already came up with Hot Pink Elephants From Space Ate My Pajamas. I'm a little on the fence with that one.)

This re-branding is not happening right now, but will come eventually once the project enters the refactoring stage where I clean up all the crap I've been stitching together just to keep the project playable and fun while new features were added.

What are the specific implications? I'm glad you asked, because you'll get...
  • new races!
  • new weapons!
  • new... everything!
Well, under the hood you'll still have X-COM's familiar core mechanics which are, after all, what I developed this elaborate prototype for in the first place...

In time there will be plenty of room for discussion regarding the new content and overall game design. Before then, once the new name is determined we'll likely have a new general forum to help direct future development and provide a place for players to interact. 

Several days ago I had a nice post ready to publish, complete with geoscape mockups and all, but the focus was the announcement of donation support and I discovered only at the last minute that PayPal donations aren't allowed in my country (seriously, they told me to "start a company and sell a product or service"...), so... we're suddenly talking about this instead.

8 comments more...


  • Anonymous

    Good news ! Xcom is a big thing, but is also a big thing... Already some remakes, already known universe, already known "everything". Keeping the tactical game but with a new setup is nice. Too bad is still alien, but good it's not zombies or med-fan (too many of them these days). What about a kind of Shadowrun/Cyberpunk setup ?

    About the name, Company-X is not bad, not good. Can we still propose ?

    "ComeX" : you keep the Com and the X, you can read "come X" or Com Ex", ex for external, or extra. It's also shorter to read and write and say, and sounds like a little like "comets". Also when i google ComeX, i don't find much about an other video game.

  • Kyzrati

    Yep, suggestions will be considered as the name isn't determined yet. Though I don't really see much appeal in "ComeX", at least not compared to the options on the table so far--minus the elephants :). It's *really* difficult to come up with an awesome, unused name these days, especially for frequently done genres/themes.

    About the theme, I like "aliens attack Earth" since it allows us to easily mix both crazy tech and outlandish creatures with modern day Earth as we know it--this in itself is a big part of the appeal in X-COM.

    The ease with which X@COM will be moddable, combined with its general appeal, ensures that we'll see some extensive mods that meet the demand for other themes. Even now we have two very unique mods, one Warhammer and the other mech-based, but the modder has been tinkering with them on the forums and they haven't reached a final release version (though are already quite playable--I especially like the mech-based mod called "Union").

  • San

    I don't believe USA would put all the blame on terrorism or even know what it is exactly. 1985 is when the Cold War was nearing it's end.

    About the name, Company-X seems a neutral name, not good or bad like the anon before me said. I would be okay with Company-X but Com Ex..eehh..it just doesn't seems good, no offense. X-Com is the abbreviation of "eXtraterrestrial combat unit", so Com Ex would be "Combat Extraterrestrial", a name that doesn't make much sense and it's still too close to X-Com.

    Now, my English is not perfect so there can be many grammatical error, but what about Anti-Xenos Enclave/Exclave? I find it slightly fitting, with earth begin surrounded by many others alien species. Or what about Invader's hunters? In-Hunters? Hunting the enemy invaders inside our world but hidden from the people's eyes?

    Here's a list of names I can come up with, use them if you like them but keep in mind I am not a fountain of good ideas only:
    Anti-Xenos Guardians (AXG) (AX-Guard)
    Invader's Hunters (In-Hunters) (IH)
    Anti-Xenos Enclave/Exclave (AXE)
    Xeno-Guard (X-Guard) (Xeno-Guard) (XG)
    World Protection Unit (WPC) (W-Prot)
    Terra Security Army (TSA) (TPA) (T-Secu)
    Terra Guardians (T-Guard) (TG) (Terra Guard)


  • Kyzrati

    The story was just something to go along with the proposal of "Company X", to give a little more context when thinking about the name. Don't worry too much about the details since it's not going to stay. (At the time I didn't think the terrorism thing was fitting for the time period, but really just wanted to finally do the post, since it took long enough to put together a story that wasn't full of holes and awful-sounding in general!)

    Thanks for your input. Though I think your suggestions might not fit too well, there are definitely at least some words in there that might spark other names and/or imaginations.

    There's been another suggestion I like on Bay 12, though it inevitably has its own drawbacks as well: "6EQUJ5: Alien Contact". I'd like to eventually put together a list of the best candidates and do a vote here on the blog (if just to get public opinion since I'll likely still just do whatever I want :)), but it's freaking impossible to get a poll to display properly given my template design. Maybe I'll use an external poll...

  • José Mourinho

    But at least the game will be modable so that a fan could then make the true xcom mod, with all the right names, sounds, alien abilities right? That we would have the best of both worlds.

    About the names, I like XenoGuards

  • Kyzrati

    Hi José,

    Yep yep, the game is already capable of that right now--it's just missing the geoscape side of things. All the aliens and their abilities are doable, but specifically using the sounds from the original would only be legal if you copied them from a version you own; in that case, the scripting side of things could still be handled through a mod.

    The main thing that's missing right now compared to the original battlescape is the map generation, since I created my own temporary way of handling it for now. Even so, 10101 did a great job of recreating the original Farm/Terror maps with his mods. He'd be a prime candidate for making a great X-COM remake mod, so here's hoping he's still around when we get that far!

    I would still prefer Xenocorps over XenoGuards, myself.

  • Brandon M. Brown

    Given your graphical style, I think it would make sense to tie in "rogue" somehow. Or something in that theme. The thing that appealed to me in X@Com was that the symbol fit.

    I don't mind Xenocorp. It does seem a little generic, honestly. But you're right, a name is difficult. I always name papers/blogposts last. And begrudgingly, when I do so.

    Perhaps fitting ASCII characters into the name, while still having a non-ascii title for search engine reasons, would help.

  • Kyzrati

    Hm, already two people have mistaken Xenocorps for Xenocorp--not the same thing. (Are you really thinking the meaning Xenocorp? Or is it a typo? Could've been thrown off by the original company reference, which it's not when the name uses -corps.)

    X@COM was one of those names that just hits you and you say THAT'S IT!, so there was really no question from the beginning that I'd use it. With a new direction we'll obviously be needing a new one, but there's a few issues with using '@'. One is it makes pronunciation rather difficult. Unless it's in a convenient place where people can easily substitute it for "at" and have it still sound good (unlikely), it doesn't work. Once someone has to say "X@COM" it more often than not comes out as "X at COM", which sounds pretty stupid, really :) I didn't really care about that before, but now that the project is getting bigger I have to take into consideration the normal factors important in naming. There's also the search issue, but as you say that can be circumvented with a long enough subtitle or associated alphanumerics in the first place. Also, once the game content is more certain I'm eventually going to add sprites, so it won't be ASCII-only and may seem a little less roguelike (however "roguelike" it really is in the first place, a controversial topic in itself).

    Okay, now I see you simply said "ASCII characters", another interesting option but still suffers from the same problems.

    I guess all this comes down to the question: Is the added recognition from having a *very* unique name worth being more difficult to pronounce or find?

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