This breaks my heart just a little bit, Julian. Sorry for the "necropost", I've just now accidentally stumbled onto this post.
Back when the first launched, I went out and tracked down one of three available copies of Rebelstar Tactical Command, at a GameStop, while in college. The clerk thought I was the weirdest guy in the world; why did I call ahead and have them set aside a copy? When I came in, the clerk asked me what was so special about the game, and why I was making such a big deal about ensuring I got a copy.
"It's a new game by the guy who designed the original X-COM PC game. It's a tactical turn-based strategy RPG with fully destructible environments. They barely ever make games like this anymore, and I have to do my part to show that people still want these games."
I remember thinking "Man, I wish they'd give him the marketing budget, and I wish that this game would've launched using the concept art for the characters on the box." Ignoring the fact that the GBA was being phased out, I think that the artwork would've made a huge difference.
But I was so thrilled to play another turn-based strategy RPG that you'd worked on, none of that really mattered. I ran home and sat in bed with my GBA SP, having flashbacks to the first time my brother let me create my own save in X-COM.
I really loved that game, despite the quirks (like disabling the music to double the framerate); even though I did reach a point where the game became so impossibly difficult that I couldn't successfully complete a mission. I'll figure it out someday, I'm sure. It sits in my GBA drawer, still in the box.
I hope that you'll try making a new one again, some day. I'd love to see you do a Kickstarter for this game, and offer similar gameplay with more detailed character sprites. Every time I play a new turn-based strategy game, I find myself wishing that you'd had a hand in. Though, I did enjoy Jake's design for the new XCOM titles that Firaxis made.
X-COM: UFO Defense changed my life, as a kid. I was always so amazed by the versatility and the unapologetically difficult and "realistic" nature of your war with aliens (character permadeath / harsh consequences). I took those design principles into my own game design, and so, I owe a lot to you for showing me that punishment and challenging scenarios aren't necessarily bad things to include in a game.
You're a huge inspiration to me. Please continue making excellent turn-based games. Thank you for making me so passionate about games, and good luck with your Kickstarter. I hope you make it.