Today marks the release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown from Firaxis, and I wanted to let fans of the reboot and the original game in on something that happened behind the scenes when Game Informer unveiled the game for our February cover.

Game Informer's editor-in-chief Andy McNamara is the main point of contact when it comes to designing the magazine's covers. He works with the publishers and developers and offers advice on what kind of layout works well on a wrap-around cover design, but he likes to give the artists behind the game as much freedom as possible to create something that shows off their project in the most interesting light.

Back in the early phases of the XCOM cover, I heard that we were having a difficult time coming up with a cover design that showed off the strategy game. Before going on a cover story trip to shoot videos, I like to do as much research as possible, so I had been playing a bit of the original X-COM in my free time. While playing the old PC game I  was struck by the design of the "enemy movement" screen.

I captured the image, photoshopped it a bit, and sent it off to Andy to see what he thought. He liked the idea and had our 2K contacts forward the mock-up to Firaxis.

Much to my surprise, the talented art team at Firaxis (led by Greg Foertsch) took a stab at the concept. Leaving behind the cartoon look of the original game's cutscenes, they converted the classic image into something that fit with the reboot's style. We received permission to post this image based on the disclaimer that it was not finished and that the team at Firaxis wasn't happy with the image, but here it is.

Click to enlarge.

After thinking it over for a while, Andy decided that having a bald space marine on the cover was misleading since the core of XCOM is about dealing with the alien threat and not the drama of a central male protagonist. The idea was scrapped and we eventually ended up going with the first image on the page of the Sectoid alien in the street.

The point of this blog wasn't to proclaim myself as a genius of design, but to give fans of the original game a glimpse at an updated version of the classic image and to thank the team at Firaxis for going along with an idea from a lowly video producer in Minnesota.