this interview with Game Informer, legendary developer Sid Meier says even he has succumbed to the lure of modern graphics. "I used to love to try and challenge the players' imagination," he says, "to show them a few pixels in 16 colors and try and convince them that they're ruling an empire to stand the test of time. But I think today's player is not really willing to make that investment, so we're able to bring the worlds to life in 3D."
But he also believes that beefing up the graphics has brought in a much bigger audience than games could have picked up 20 years ago. "You had to kind of suspend your disbelief and be willing to step into that world," says Meier. "Today we make it a lot easier," and as a result, players who want more than a few pixels on screen can also get their fix.
Meier's currently the creative director of game development at Firaxis, and though he's not participating directly on XCOM it doesn't mean he's not working. Every morning, he says, he comes out of the shower with "about 10 ideas," and is constantly iterating with his team on different prototypes. "Most of them," he says, "just go back into the trash heap." In other words, anyone who wants to make an awesome game should probably go root around in the garbage cans near Sparks Glencoe, Maryland.