Cancelled successorA new version of the X-COM series dubbed X-COM: Genesis, focusing on some of the gameplay features found in the original, was in production at Hasbro/Microprose in 1999. The project was cut during mass-layoffs for the company.
CD-ROM versionThe CD version may include a partial install version and a full install version, depending on which CD you got. The partial install version leaves some datafiles on the CD to save disk space. However, the "full install" version is also on the CD in the HARDDISK directory.
CreationJullian Gollop, designer of X-COM: UFO Defence tells how X-COM was created (taken from the Mythos Games web site):
We showed a demo of ‘Laser Squad 2’ on the Atari ST to Microprose in 1991. The idea was to produce a sequel to ‘Laser Squad’ but with much neater graphics using an isometric style very similar to Populous. They liked what we had done so far, but they explained that they wanted a ‘big’ game. I said "what do you mean by ‘big’" and they said "well, you know – BIG". They also said that it had to be set on earth, like Civilisation or Railroad Tycoon, because people could relate to it much more. So we went away, scratched our heads and thought about it. Then we came up with the idea of adding on a grand strategic element to the game, very firmly set on earth, in which the player managed an organisation that defended the planet against UFO incursions. I bought quite a few books on UFOs for research purposes so that we could give the game an even more ‘authentic’ basis.
Element 115Ten years after the game was released, a real element 115 was discovered. Unfortunately, it wasn't named elerium like in the game, but ununpentium.
GeForce problemsGeForce owners have probably encountered display problems that render the game unplayable. This can be fixed though; go to the Windows Control Panel and the DirectX settings. Switch off DirectDraw hardware acceleration and the game should work fine.
Don't forget to switch acceleration back on afterwards, though.
GeoscapeThe game is actually Geoscape, the rotating globe and resource management, generating the battlefield conditions for BattleScape, where you conduct tactical combat against the aliens. If you press Ctrl-C (as suggested by the hint "level skip") while in BattleScape, you interrupt the BattleScape program, preventing it from writing the "results" file. Thus you will get the same result as your previous battle. This is a result of the developement history (see the other trivia entries), whereas MicroProse decided that the tactical combat is not enough to be a game in itself, and asked Mythos to write a strategy game around it.
InfluenceThe game is heavy influenced from the TV series UFO . It's about a secret UFO defense base which sends out military aircrafts to shoot down UFOs, sending out squads to seek the wreckage and kill or catch aliens to analyze them.
Multiplayer WorkaroundYou can actually play "multiplayer" X-COM long before e-mail X-COM... By using sort of a "hack". As the game actually plays through turn by turn on both sides, it is actually possible to take the saved file right at the end of a turn, edit a pointer, and play the "other side" using the engine. And if you exchange files back and forth, you can have a multiplayer game.
NovelA novelization of the game was published through the Proteus imprint of Prima Publishing. It written by Diane Duane and first published in December of 1995.
PatchesThe last offical patch changed the sound effects of the game. Many people didn't like the new sounds.
V1.4 patch removed the document check copy protection.
ReleasesA complete version of X-COM is available on Classic Games Collection CD featured with the July 2000 issue of PC Gamer Magazine.
TechnologyX-COM: UFO Defense is one of the few 256-color DOS games to implement dynamic lightning. By using 16 shades of 16 different hues (16 x 16 = 256) as the palette, artists could create isometric tiles whose colors can be gradually changed simply by incrementing each tile's palette entries by 1, 2 and so on. In this way, the same tiles can be shown darker and darker simultaneously on the screen.
Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Andrew Grasmeder, Der.Archivar, Entorphane, Kasey Chang, Lord FlatHead, Heikki Sairanen, Martin Smith, PCGamer77, Pseudo_Intellectual, robotriot, Rola, rstevenson, ZuljinRaynor