Chris

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About Chris

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    London, UK
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    Project Lead, Xenonauts
  1. Hi Chris. Sorry to bother you. Without any other specifications including aesthetics, will you considering adding a tripod enemy alien vehicle? 

  2. You seriously think clicking on a UFO and then selecting 1-3 jets to chase after it offers the player more options that the multi-stage, multi-possibility UFO interception I outlined above? Having people pick holes in my proposed ideas is very useful from the point of view of a designer; the positive posts often contribute new ideas and the negative posts force me to look at my ideas from other viewpoints and potentially address weakness I hadn't picked up on before (and though I often disagree with your conclusions, there's usually reasoning behind them and I'm glad you continue to post here). Fundamentally I disagree with the conclusions above though, so there's not much common ground here. I'll let the discussion evolve for a while without my input and see where we end up.
  3. So we have to add in a system that tracks proficiency across multiple types of weapons for each soldier, create a battlefield fatigue / energy system, and then change the reaction fire calculation just so we can support each Xenonaut dragging a small arsenal of weapons around with them? To be honest, those aren't actually bad suggestions and some or all of them could indeed work to help alleviate the problem. But my change to the inventory is minimal work, doesn't affect many other game systems and serves to clean up the UI and player experience. What you've put forwards involves doubling down on the complexity of pretty much everything - changing the game balance, more complex UI across multiple screens, forcing the player to track soldier energy and also their competence with any given type of weapon in addition to their actual stats. They are actually massive changes and they touch much more than the inventory system from a gameplay point of view. I'll give your ideas a closer inspection if it turns out my ideas are indeed too lightweight.
  4. It's really not impossible. You can have the "timing" options on each individual situation (UFO or ground mission), where clicking on it opens up a "situation view" for all the ways you can respond to it within the next 24 hours. Once you've assigned orders to all the different situations, you click advance turn and move forward 24 hours and watch as all your orders are carried out. There's actually aspects where you could make the situation management more complex if you use a turn-based system. Let's take a UFO encounter for an example: You know the UFO flight path in advance, either due to intelligence or tracking the orbital re-entry trajectory of the UFO or whatever. Lets say the UFO is on a bombing run and the flight path has five sectors. 1 - Sea (10 Relations) 2 - Land (10 Relations) 3 - Land, Local Interceptors (10 Relations) 4 - Land, SAM Sites (50 Relations) 5 - Land (10 Relations) The UFO takes damage passing through sectors 3 and 4 due to the local forces in that region attacking it. There's actually a whole bunch of choices on how you could approach that UFO interception there. Attack it in sector 1 and there's no crash site because it's over the sea, but you prevent any Relations damage occurring. The UFO would likely be heavily damaged in Sector 5, so it would be a much easier target if you attack it then - but it will have inflicted heavy Relations damage on the region. If you're OK with the local forces in the region taking some damage (assuming we model this in the game) then you can just intercept it over the target in Sector 4 for an easier kill that prevents most of the Relations damage. If the local forces are dangerously weak, then you might want to hit it in Sector 2 before it has the chance to wipe out another few squadrons of local jets. You can't really do that stuff in realtime because even if you reveal the alien plans in advance, micromanaging the timing is difficult. In a turn-based system you can just give the player the choices and let the units micromanage themselves, making the strategy layer more about actual strategic choices than just watching a plane chase a UFO around the map and hoping it catches it. Sure, in practice the system might not prove to work anywhere near as well as the example I've given above (there might not be as many interesting choices for each situation) but I don't think it takes much creativity to think up ways that a turn-based system *could* be more interesting than realtime.
  5. I don't really understand why people are keen to allow their soldiers to carry enough weapons to essentially deal with any situation. If your sniper can carry a sniper rifle and a shotgun, plus a handful of grenades and maybe a medikit, what's his weakness? He's a strong fighter at ranges and in all situations ... guess you may as well have an entire team of snipers then. How would it make tactical battles more interesting? In XCOM, if your shotgunner is caught in mid-range no-mans land in front of an alien then you have the choice of sprinting right up to the alien and hoping he kills him with his shot, or playing it safe and running away. That can be quite a tough decision sometimes. In Xenonauts, apparently the correct decision would just be for your shotgunner to headshot the alien with a sniper rifle? That option is so much better than the alternatives that there's no choice at all. I'm sure you guys aren't intentionally advocating a situation where XCOM would have more tactical choices than Xenonauts ... but if you let your soldiers carry an assortment of primary weapons in to every situation, there's no reward for battlefield maneuvering. All you have to do is change to whatever the optimal weapon is for the situation, rather than actually re-positioning or considering your approach to the battlefield based on the gear your units are carrying. Don't you want to be forced to make those decisions?
  6. Both the examples you gave take place *during* a wave, not between them. The time between waves is still dead time, although as both you and Severus have noted there is some (if minimal) scope for re-prioritizing production during a wave. However, while that sounds good in theory I think the number of times players actually use that is vanishingly small. The rest of the stuff about picking when to intercept a UFO is just you projecting your personal prejudices though. Why can't the turn-based Geoscape project a flight path and allow you to pick at which point you want the interception to happen? Wait longer and it inflicts more damage on the region, but lets a UFO over the sea move over land. Why can't a terror site have a timer on it? Delay acting and take more relations loss, but it may give you a chance to let day break rather than launching a night mission, or let the local forces weaken the aliens a bit, etc. If you assume we'll implement any new mechanic in the most basic possible way, of course it'll look inferior to what we already have.
  7. Probably best to ignore the alien alert counter for now, actually - it's thematic and would be a nice addition to the game, but it doesn't really matter in terms of the faction / superpower system we're discussing here except giving a bit more of a lore reason why the Xenonauts are so secretive. So we'll ignore it for now. That leaves the DEFCON counter and the Military counter ... but you need a system that makes the choice more interesting than simply looking at which counter is in the worst state and prioritizing the actions that fix that counter up. You need extra pressures pulling in different directions. Maybe we can borrow some ideas from the DEFCON counter in the Cold War board game called Twilight Struggle, which has some neat mechanics: If it ever hits zero, the player that pushed it there loses. At the start of each turn, the DEFCON counter improves by one (various action cards etc also raise or lower it). Each player has to do a certain number of military actions each turn or lose victory points, and the most effective military actions tend to degrade the DEFCON counter by one. Each time the DEFCON counter is degraded by one, no actions at all (military or otherwise) can be performed in an additional region of the world (e.g. if the DEFCON counter has been degraded even once, you can't conduct military operations in Europe. Another level lower adds in Asia, etc) What's interesting about that is that players will very quickly lose the game if they don't do any actions that degrade the DEFCON counter, but lowering the DEFCON counter constrains a player's non-military options. Maybe there's something we can borrow from that?
  8. Thanks, Thixotrop - the screenshots do help. It's pretty funny that the corpses still groan when they get shot. I'll add that to the bug tracker. The AI is still very primitive at this point ... it's basically the minimum that we could write and still have the aliens actually do something slightly playable. I wouldn't be surprised if they focus on the Xenonauts that have the highest chance of injuring them, so that might be the sniper and the machinegunner. Similarly, those aliens will always go to the same tiles because they spawn on the same tile every time and the map is always the same - so those are probably the tiles that offer the best cover close by. The AI will be improved over time but I guess in future we need to be adding more spawn points to the map than there are aliens, so they don't always spawn in the same area every time. Maybe we also need some kind of debug information to be printed to the screen or a log somewhere so we can figure out if those misses / hits going on are just the RNG or an actual error in the game mechanics. It's impossible to know if you've got a problem or if you're just unlucky otherwise.
  9. OK. You do have a couple of valid points there, which I'll quickly discuss: The point about repeatedly having to press Skip Turn isn't actually an issue as there's two buttons on the turn-based Geoscape. One skips forward one turn, and the other just skips forward until the next event. You'll almost certainly be using the second option most of the time, which works basically the same as the max speed button on the realtime Geoscape. I'll accept that the "new weapon vs. terror mission timeout" is indeed an argument in favour of the realtime Geoscape, yes. It's somewhat weak for two reasons though: the first is that terror sites don't cause more relations damage over time, so it's still effectively a yes / no choice as to whether you've got a weapon in time for the mission or not (i.e. it doesn't matter if you get to a terror site early or not). The second is that it's a pretty rare occurrence. I'm not sure how much weight you can give to a situation that only happens occasionally. You're completely right about the feeling of realism that realtime gives you though; other people have raised this point and I think I even raised it in my original post too ... I agree, it's the area the turn-based Geoscape is most likely to fail. Even if the gameplay choices are functionally the same both ways, the realtime system may just "feel" better than the turn-based one. But that's something we'll have to test to find out; you can't really judge how a system will feel based on a few paragraphs of text.
  10. There isn't one - which is exactly my point. There's no superior choice there in either the real-time or the turn-based version of the Geoscape. They are functionally exactly the same with regards to time management, which is why switching to turn-based Geoscape is no loss in this instance. Sure, there might be some issues that crop up with regards to interceptions which I agree we'll have to keep our eye on, but I've yet to see anyone make a properly supported point as to why turn-based time management will drastically change the strategic management experience from X1. The way the UFO wave system works means that the non-interception gameplay in X1 is already effectively turn-based. You interact with the aliens every five or six days, which is the only time that your radar coverage / soldier health / aircraft health / equipment / basically anything actually matters. The time between is just dead time.
  11. This new version of Xenonauts 2 is a hotfix for our previous build released a week ago; we still have another build due in one week on the 28th Feb. This is a free public test build, released free because it is still an early build and we don't yet think we can justify charging for it; full details on where to get the build can be found in this thread. Despite being a "hotfix", this is actually a mini-release in its own right. This is because the only way we could include a key fix for missing crosshair in the previous build was to include some new code that was, in turn, integrated with other new code. Not really the way we wanted to do things, but we're keen to start promoting the build and therefore we've bent our rules a bit to do so. Please give the build a test and see if you can find any issues with it - if there's nothing game-breaking in the build we will start openly promoting the game on Friday! CHANGELOG: Mission End Screen: The mission debrief screen from X1 has been partially implemented, however we won't implement proper tracking for stat-ups / recovered items / etc for another build or two so it doesn't display that much useful information yet. Death Animations: Xenonauts (not yet aliens) now have a proper death animation rather than a ragdoll. We may also experiment with adding a ragdoll at the end to let the corpse lay in a more realistic manner. Bugfixes: We've fixed the issue where the crosshair would randomly disappear when you moused over an alien. Damage text should now consistently appear when units take damage. Weapons no longer fall to zero accuracy beyond the soldier's visual range (i.e. squadsight is now working correctly) Sounds like footsteps, death sounds, music etc should now randomise correctly where there are multiple variations. Ctrl no longer clears the move path, so you can Ctrl+Shift with a move path drawn out to plan shots to any target now. Fixed an issue where clicks were being blocked by the upper (hidden) parts of trees, preventing units moving to certain tiles on the map. Visual Fixes: Cliffs are now 50% wider, which should somewhat reduce the "blockiness" of the cliffs. Fixed up the thin black lines between tiles on the roads. Boreal biome tree trunks are no longer square when cut-through by the camera. Disabled the outline shader on dead aliens. Loading screen has a sharper alien head image, and text is now rendered in-game (so scales correctly with screen resolution).
  12. As I said, I'm all for a system that pits NATO and Warsaw Pact influence against one another. As Dagar says, we can have a setup where the following is in place: The aliens and the Xenonauts are both secret organisations. The aliens lack the power to defeat the whole planet militarily, so are trying to either covertly weaken the human militaries enough that they can do so ... or are trying to push the Cold War into a hot war (and the humans weaken each other enough that the aliens can win a war against them) The Xenonauts are secret at the start of the game because the aliens have enough firepower to wipe them out, assuming they can locate them. When the Xenonauts have enough power to defend themselves against the aliens, they can trigger the alien retaliation strike and remove the restrictions on their actions. This gives three Geoscape counters: DEFCON counter, representing the tension between the two superpowers. Game is lost if it reaches DEFCON 0. Military counter, representing the combined military power of the humans relative to that of the aliens. Game is lost if it reaches zero. Alien alert counter, representing how much attention the aliens are putting in to locating and destroying the Xenonauts. This triggers a base attack once it hits a certain level, which ends the game if the Xenonauts lose and removes the counter if the Xenonauts win. The only problem is the actual mechanics. Alien missions can affect the DEFCON / military counters, but if they are only affected by alien actions then the system is no more interesting than in Xenonauts 1. There needs to be some element of human politics independent of the aliens that affects these counters. How does the alignment of a region affect gameplay? Are there limits on the activities the Xenonauts can carry out in them depending on their alignment? Not sure that would make sense. How does building up a region militarily affect the DEFCON counter? If it's a straighforward increase in both counters, it's not a very interesting choice. What is the scope for the two superpowers to compete for influence in a certain region, and how might the Xenonauts affect that struggle? And how would it produce interesting choices for the player?
  13. Mmm, timing and time management becomes a thing in itself in your example but it still remains almost entirely irrelevant to actual gameplay. What is the superior choice in your example that lets the skilled player gain an advantage over an unskilled player?
  14. Ultimately what's relevant is what system is more fun to play; you can argue all day about what the most "realistic" approach is for Cold War-era aircraft taking on extraterrestrial spaceships but the fact is that Xenonauts 1 was weaker for not allowing players to breach UFOs except via the front door. My decision making on this issue is going to be based on choosing between the superior aesthetics of the semi-destructible UFOs vs. the superior gameplay of the fully destructible ones, so it's probably not worth getting too worked up about the relative size of missile warheads. Take the realism argument to its logical conclusion and you don't get viable crash site missions at all; it's a lot less applicable here than it is in other parts of the game.
  15. As I mentioned above, I'm not keen to move the game away from the Cold War setting because we've established a franchise and I don't think we've exhausted (or even properly used) the current time period yet.