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Skitso

Number of terror missions, alien bases and base assaults per play through

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How many terror missions, alien bases and base assaults have you had in your play throughs? I'm currently playing my first official play through (normal difficulty) and I'm currently at Cruisers and have just captured the alien leader.

I've had only 2 terror sites, one base and no base assaults. Numbers seem really low and I would gladly have them at least doubled, plus one or two base assaults too. Game feels a bit repetitive as it's mostly just crash site after crash site.

Can I expect more as the game proggresses, or is this it? Any easy modding methods to up these numbers? Nothing overkill, but I'd like to have at least 1 base and terror mission per month.

Edited by Skitso

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About to reach Carriers, insane difficulty (although 1.06 CE).

No terror sites.

No alien bases.

No base assaults.

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This is one of the things that got somewhat screwed up in the last couple of weeks before the release, I think. Terror missions and base attacks have become far less common - it's crash site after crash site, and by the time I reach the point where you are in the game (Cruisers and Leader), I usually have the same situation - one terror mission, maybe two, no assaults on my base.

I really recommend kabill's dynamic UFO mod for this. He removes the spawn limitations on Terror missions, which is quite good, although base attack missions could also use some beefing up in that mod, they are too unlikely presently.

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Maybe u guys are just to good? Stop killing those poor aliens let them build a base in peace. Then wait a month or two. They will build their first ship maybe another base. Wait! Stop! Dont send any forces! Look at them they start to perform first terror attack. Go aliens GO!

Maybe that will help.

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Yeah, radek, that's the right way to fix this...

By the way I will do it once I get Quantum Cryptology Lab. Farming the alien invasion, that must be fun and natural!

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I really recommend kabill's dynamic UFO mod for this. He removes the spawn limitations on Terror missions, which is quite good, although base attack missions could also use some beefing up in that mod, they are too unlikely presently.

I'd rather keep the game play as vanilla as possible for now. Could you point me in the right direction what numbers to change to just boost terror site/base/assault propability. Thanks! :)

Solver, is this something you could touch coding wise as it really seems to lower the enjoyment one can get out of the game...?

Edited by Skitso

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All terror missions, alien bases, and base assaults are caused by unchecked UFOs to my knowledge, so if you're shooting everything down these are going to be pretty rare/non-existent.

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kentsfield are you suggesting we don't know that or that it's the best possible gameplay balance we could hope to ever have in the game?

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I'd rather keep the game play as vanilla as possible for now. Could you point me in the right direction what numbers to change to just boost terror site/base/assault propability. Thanks! :)

Well, that mod is basically about making UFOs less predictable, and is otherwise vanilla.

Look in the AM_*.xml files, like AM_Terror.xml. The Ticker value is the minimum ticker at which the mission can happen, the Chance is of course the probability of it spawning. Just jack those up a bit.

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Play throughs so far with v1.02-1.07

Normal/save scumming:

1 terror site

1 alien base

No base assaults

Normal/Iron man:

2 terror sites

3 alien bases

No base assaults

Base assaults seem to be effectively out if the player knows how to achieve air-superiourity or at least very rare in play-throughs, but alien bases and terror sites can occur several times if played on iron man mode which is highly recommended (didn't use the option though simply didn't load games back)

Edit: There is no need to be upset on these numbers, there are two higher levels of difficulty that probably stack up the numbers nicely - I will certainly try Veteran/Iron man mode next and actually expect at least one base invasion unless I get really lucky. Terror sites and alien bases should also be min 5 I suppose.

Edited by zolobolo

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This is exactly what was trying to be addressed in the FTD mod...

....which, ironically, is going defunct from lack of interest

Edited by dpelectric

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60+ crash sites in.

Two bases because a UFO ran my plane around for ages then landed just as it got low on fuel.

Zero base assaults.

Zero terror missions.

The only landing I've assaulted was one that I basically let happen because I was so sick of crash sites I wanted to see what a full complement of living aliens would be like. Unfortunately, most of them still holed up in the UFO.

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I checked out the AM_Construction.xml and after tic250, it should have a 60% chance to have a construction mission per wave if understand correctly. What else does it require for alien base to emerge. Does it need succesful supply runs too?

That feels kinda high propability, so why are people not getting alien bases more? Or could they just be not found? Is there something I can mod to make established alien bases to be revealed always/sooner etc.?

Edited by Skitso

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1 Alien base...that I had to farm for because I wanted the base upgrade.

1 Terror mission in the early mid-game.

No base assaults, considering how they work I can't imagine ever naturally getting one.

Air superiority is king these days due to nation funding, getting world-wide coverage and a sufficient airforce to burn an entire wave of alien ships out of the sky in a handful of hours is the only way to keep the world happy, and that keeps any of the "fun" invasion stuff from happening.

Skitso: If I had to guess based on my own experiences, it all comes down to Construction mission ships meandering around the map all day before they pick where they want to set up shop, meaning almost all of them are getting shot down mid-joyride. Shouldn't they have already scouted a location (with maybe, I know this is crazy, Scouts?) before they pack up for the mission?

If the time needed for Construction missions to pick a place and land could be shortened to a fraction of the current time it takes, we'd likely be seeing a fair deal more of them in most playthroughs.

Edited by Big Z

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If I had to guess based on my own experiences, it all comes down to Construction mission ships meandering around the map all day before they pick where they want to set up shop, meaning almost all of them are getting shot down mid-joyride. Shouldn't they have already scouted a location (with maybe, I know this is crazy, Scouts?) before they pack up for the mission?

If the time needed for Construction missions to pick a place and land could be shortened to a fraction of the current time it takes, we'd likely be seeing a fair deal more of them in most playthroughs.

Yeah, that's what I'd like Solver to take a look at. Alien bases/terror missions are about the thing I'm having most fun with this game so it's a real shame you don't get to see that that often.

Edited by Skitso

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I checked out the AM_Construction.xml and after tic250, it should have a 60% chance to have a construction mission per wave if understand correctly. What else does it require for alien base to emerge. Does it need succesful supply runs too?

That feels kinda high probability, so why are people not getting alien bases more? Or could they just be not found? Is there something I can mod to make established alien bases to be revealed always/sooner etc.?

From what I can tell, the "chance" variable isn't a %, because the Scout mission type is currently set to 200 (which wouldn't make any sense). Plus, a % wouldn't work for selecting between different mission types.

My assumption, then, is that it's a relative chance of being picked when a wave is created. So, for example, a mission with chance 100 has twice the chance of being picked than a mission with chance 50. I've not tested this, but this would seem to make more sense using the values (it might be useful to check the code, though).

In terms of the 'special' missions, all of them in vanilla have a "cooldown". For example, Terror Missions can spawn once every 2 weeks; base attack missions once very 20ish (I think) days; and construction missions are again once every 20 days or so. All of these are set in gameconfig.xml.

As Solver says, then, the easiest way to increase the likelihood of terror/base attack/construction missions would be to increase the chance of them spawning, as all of them are limited by a cooldown so you won't get spammed with them. Increasing the chance to, say , 500 for each I think would pretty much guarantee those missions will spawn when the can, which seems reasonable giving the timings.

Obviously, you could do more complicating things by removing or reducing the cooldown and changing the mission chance accordingly, but keeping the cooldown while increasing the chance seems like the safest bet for a vanilla+ experience.

Also, re: base detection: Alien bases are already set to automatically reveal after 5 game-days. So if there's none visible on the map, there's no bases.)

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Thanks kabill! I'll definitely play with these for my next play through. :)

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The workings of the Chance variable are slightly more complex than a straight-up percentage, yes.

Disclaimer: the below is based on a quick read through the code, now without having the game itself.

Missions are split into passive and aggressive missions. Then for both categories, the chances are considered separately. So the chances of a BaseAttack mission are unaffected by the chances of a research mission. For some mytsterious reason though, only air superiority, scout and base attack missions are considered aggressive, so the chance of a base attack competes only vs. those other two. Further, there's a setting than an aggressive mission is spawned for each 2 passive missions.

Then there's basically a bug in the code that biases the chance towards air superiority first, and then to scout missions next, among aggressive ones. The current vanilla XML chance values are, I believe:

Air Superiority - 150

Scout - 200

Base Attack - 4

Actually, when the game wants to spawn an aggressive mission, air superiority has a higher chance than scout missions, and the chances of spawning a base attack mission are 1%. Then it improves slightly due to the once-per-wave mechanic. Say Air Superiority was spawned as the first aggressive mission in a wave, then they will not spawn anymore, and for the next aggressive mission the chances are 98% Scout vs. 2% Base attack, and finally the third aggressive mission in a wave will spawn as base attack.

Aggressive missions are spawned first within a wave, but like I said, there's only one for each 2 passive missions. Unless there are 9 missions being spawned together, there will be less than 3 aggressive missions, meaning very low probability of base attack.

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One more discrepancy is regarding this variable from gameconfig:

<maxMissionCount value="7"    comment="This is the maxinum number of mission for a wave. The number of human bases will be added to this one." />

It says that the maximum number of missions depends on the number of player's bases, but it's actually alien bases that get counted. Which, come to think of it, I like better.

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Is the chance of a base attack only 4? Surely that's a typo and should be 40 or something? I'm sure it used to be higher than that when I was making Dynamic UFOs.

Incidentally, this possibly explains why in Dynamic UFOs there's a tendency to get a 'glut' of the same types of UFO/missions.

Presumably, it would be possible to change the likelihood of the various missions effectively simply by using the xml files and weighting them according to the issues with the source code. For example, if you dropped Air superiority to say 50, and increased base attack to say 150, then presumably they's be a bit more even in spite of the biases in the code itself.

Also, the maximum mission count issue is interesting. It actually makes much more sense for the number of alien bases to count towards this as opposed to player bases, although I can't decide whether it's best for game balance purposes.

EDIT: Thanks for looking at this.

EDIT 2: How difficult would it be for you to post a summary of the calculations/code so that it's possible to calculate the chance of different missions spawning for modding purposes? It would be a useful resource to have for people wanting to mod the mission spawn chances.

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It's 4. I am quite sure I have the correct files here. Though if the number was 40, it'd still be a 13% chance to spawn base attack as the first aggressive mission, and 16% to spawn it as the second aggressive mission.

Yes, the XML files do work of course, the bias towards certain missions is not that significant upon a closer look. The bigger problem is that probabilities for certain missions are too low, and the huge jump at 9 UFOs. As it stands, if 9 missions are generated in a wave, one of them will be a Base Attack, 100% probability. But with just 8 missions the probability is very small. This does not feel right.

I am thinking the effect of bases, both human and alien, on maxMissionCount should be made moddable. If alien bases mean more UFOs, that means it's advantageous to destroy bases, which is good. On the other hand, having them scale with human bases could be better for balance - but that's not something that has happened in the game before. So I'd like to let you play with those variables in your UFO spawn mods.

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How difficult would it be for you to post a summary of the calculations/code so that it's possible to calculate the chance of different missions spawning for modding purposes? It would be a useful resource to have for people wanting to mod the mission spawn chances.

It's not that complicated. Ignoring minor biases from the code:

Passive missions are Research, Ground Attack, Bombing Run, Terror, Construction, Supply. Aggressive missions are Air Superiority, Scout, Base Attack.

For each mission to be created, the game looks at chances within that category (passive or aggressive). The "Chance" variables from XML are simply added up, and the chance of a particular mission is that mission's chance variable vs. the cumulative chance. That is, if Superiority = 150, Supply = 200, and Base Attack = 4, then cumulative = 354, and the chances of an Air Superiority mission are 150/354 = 42%. If a mission is once-per-wave, it gets excluded from the next calculation. So if an Air Superiority was created and then we have a second aggressive mission in the wave, it's just Supply vs. Base Attack, with a 200/204 chance for supply.

The number of aggressive missions is, like said, one per every two passive. So with 3 missions, you get 2 passive and 1 aggressive, with 8 missions you get 6 passive and 2 aggressive.

The actual number of missions to be spawned in a wave is as follows:

Floor ( sqrt(rate) * (max - min)) + min

where:

min and max are respectively the minimum and maximum number to spawn per wave,

and

rate is Min (ticker / 700, 1.0)

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On my first official play through.

Veteran - no ironman.

Its April. Have captured Leader, is shooting down carriers, have just researched MAG weapons.

0 base assaults, 0 alien bases, 0 terror sites (UNTIL late april where a single carrier managed to launch a terror site in Berlin).

I have build 3 bases and most of the game they have had 2 foxtrots and 1 corsair each.

At this point I find the difficulty on the geoscape too easy - though I am plenty challenged in ground combat… That single terror site had almost 20 elite androns...

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If the time needed for Construction missions to pick a place and land could be shortened to a fraction of the current time it takes, we'd likely be seeing a fair deal more of them in most playthroughs.

THIS! And same for bases assaults.

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It's 4. I am quite sure I have the correct files here. Though if the number was 40, it'd still be a 13% chance to spawn base attack as the first aggressive mission, and 16% to spawn it as the second aggressive mission.

Yes, the XML files do work of course, the bias towards certain missions is not that significant upon a closer look. The bigger problem is that probabilities for certain missions are too low, and the huge jump at 9 UFOs. As it stands, if 9 missions are generated in a wave, one of them will be a Base Attack, 100% probability. But with just 8 missions the probability is very small. This does not feel right.

I am thinking the effect of bases, both human and alien, on maxMissionCount should be made moddable. If alien bases mean more UFOs, that means it's advantageous to destroy bases, which is good. On the other hand, having them scale with human bases could be better for balance - but that's not something that has happened in the game before. So I'd like to let you play with those variables in your UFO spawn mods.

If it weren't for the cooldown, 13/16% chance wouldn't be too bad I don't think (on average, there's 6 waves per month, with 2 chances per wave, so roughly speaking that's ~85% chance of spawning a base attack mission per month).

And the jump to 100% at 9 missions is only because of the 1/wave flag set on all the aggressive missions. Personally (and I already did this in Dynamic UFOs) I'd be inclined to turn that off Scout missions. Alternatively, shifting another mission type into aggressive (Ground Attack?) or something might work (but I guess it's best to avoid source code changes where there's other solutions).

In terms of bases and UFO mission types, you've pretty much outlined the dilemma for me. On the one hand, making alien bases high-priority targets seems like a good thing, because it feels like they should be. However, the more incentives you put on them, the more reason there is to blitz them as soon as possible (especially as they become more difficulty as time goes on). Destroying a small base early on is much better than waiting until it grows to medium or large, since not only do you get all the advantages sooner, but relatively speaking it's an easier mission (no chance of Mind Control!).

I can't help wondering, then, whether anything that makes alien bases more important doesn't need to be balanced by rebalancing alien base missions as well. I.e. making them - and especially small and medium bases - a lot tougher so there's a high cost associated with attacking them relative to the reward you get.

Or else, have alien base construction happen much more frequently so that it's hard to keep on top of them.

EDIT: Thanks for the calculation as well. It actually works exactly like I expected, except for the passive/aggressive mission distinctions. When I next look at Dynamic UFOs I'll keep this in mind, as I actually have some information on which to base the UFO chances now!

EDIT 2: Is the source-code bias effected by the magnitude of the probability values at all? For example, if all the chance scores were multiplied by 10, would that reduce/increase the effect of the bias?

Edited by kabill

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