139 posts in this topic

Fair warning: I'm ex-military, so the abysmally inaccurate promotion system in X-Com is probably more of a peeve of mine than it needs to be.

Additional caveat: I have no idea how promotion is going to work in Xenonauts. I've never gotten anybody past SGT in the game. That said, I have been running a crew of like 9 SGTs and 3 CPLs.

In X-Com, promotion runs as follows: Rookie, Squaddie, Sergeant, Captain, Colonel. You can find yourself with a team of 10 Captains running around.

I think this is an unnecessary and easily remedied mechanic. As a general rule, enlisted men don't spontaneously become officers, and whether you're upper enlisted or low-ranking commissioned officer, you're generally going to be in a command role, directing your men, and such, not just humping along a shotgun right next to Pvt. Humptyscrunch, with no difference between the two of you but some TUs and a better Aim statistic.

In the real-life military, your grunts are going to be relatively lower-enlisted, immediately supervised by sergeants (occasionally corporals), who are in turn supervised by higher-ranked sergeants (Staff SGT or SGT 1st Class) and by lower commissioned officers (usually finding Captains or maybe the occasional 2nd LT in these kinds of roles. The highest enlisted and mid-range officer levels are really going to be administrators, responsible for a command, and anywhere from a few score to hundreds of people.

Now, for many years, until some time in the mid-80s (making this perfect for Xenonauts) -- the US Army had a couple of different career paths available to enlisted soldiers. They could go through the -->

Non-commissioned officer path: corporal, sergeant, staff sergeant, etc.; or (I believe if they were less promising, and didn't play as well with others) they could become -->

Specialists, instead: specialist 4 was an E4, just like a corporal, spec 5 was the same grade as a sergeant, spec 6 as staff sergeants, and so on. Specialists weren't necessarily expected to take leadership roles, they just needed to focus on being good at their MOS.

My suggestion is to differentiate your soldiers in this manner. Keep your grunts as grunts. Just promote them through the grunt ranks, so they become ever-more-awesome grunts.

Allow the player to designate some soldiers as leaders. One officer initially (the number perhaps varying as the total Xenonaut numbers increase) and a few billets for non-commissioned officers. These leadership positions I think would probably be pretty easily implemented as a morale-boosting presence to help try and combat the panic which can occur in tense situations in the game.

(And of course the possibility for an officer to be able to call in air-strikes or something quickly leaps to mind, but while the coding for that sort of thing may be prohibitive, implementing a leadership positions primarily as a morale-impacting mechanic certainly shouldn't be too difficult.)

The trade-off for having these types of characters of course could be that the leveling mechanic for these leadership folks would probably take significantly longer. I do think that dividing promotion tracks like this would also allow for a more regular rate of promotion (if you go Private, Spec 4, Spec 5 all the way through Spec 9, that's 7 ranks...and by the time you get some guys to Spec 9, you'll possibly have some slots open to make a few battlefield commissions. You could end the game with some truly terrifying officers leading squads around the world.)

People like seeing their mans level up. I think my suggestion would lead to some much-needed carrot in a game that's full of stick, (just in terms of providing promotions more frequently) and also doing away with a silly promotion mechanic which, while fine for X-Com, seems like it would be a bit out of place in a more serious endeavor such as Xenonauts.

What do you think?

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If people are bothered by the "silly" X-com system where you can have lots of officers (even outnumbering your grunts) I'd rather they stay clear of any real life model, and make up something unique for the Xenonaut organisation. Technically it isn't a military. There is a difference even between the ranks in the air-force, army and marine, so why shouldn't Xenonauts be able to have a unique structure?

(Anything to get away from what Rockstar 2K marin did with the FPS XCOM... the world is larger then just America!)

PS: I'm so going to have to edit the game files to make my top rank be "Supreme Fleet Admiral" or something. And I'm hoping to have 8-12 of those for the final mission!

Edited by Gorlom

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It's totally unnecessary. The soldiers don't have any kind of free agency short of reaction fire, and none of the actual troopers in the field are 'in command'. They are just morale sticks. As such, complicating the rank system serves little to no purpose.

And while you COULD find yourself running with 10 Captains in XCOM, doing that required you to have another 100 soldiers with a lower rank, which IMO was rather good system.

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I tend to think you have a lot of higher ranks running around because the xenonauts are meant to be the best, and the best isn't full of wet behind the ears privates.

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The other part to this problem that most people overlook is that you, as the player, have the choice of who you put in your squad.

If you decide you don't want a squad of 10 captains then leave 9 of them at home and take privates etc instead.

When you can select 10 out of your pool of 50 troops (numbers are just an example) then you may choose to take all of your higher ranks and leave the privates behind.

That wouldn't be standard military procedure but it is a valid game option.

The only way a real world rank system would work is if dropships had limits on what ranks could be carried.

Limiting the numbers of each rank available in the bases would have no bearing on ground missions as your squads would still have 10 captains because all of the privates, sergeants, and corporals were sat back at base.

Limiting player choice like that is bad game design.

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<snip>

My suggestion is to differentiate your soldiers in this manner. Keep your grunts as grunts. Just promote them through the grunt ranks, so they become ever-more-awesome grunts.

Allow the player to designate some soldiers as leaders. One officer initially (the number perhaps varying as the total Xenonaut numbers increase) and a few billets for non-commissioned officers. These leadership positions I think would probably be pretty easily implemented as a morale-boosting presence to help try and combat the panic which can occur in tense situations in the game.

<snip>

What do you think?

Limiting player choice like that is bad game design.

(i'm going to dodge the RL ranks thing :P)

I quite like the idea of having a choice over who gets promoted to "leader" positions. Perhaps give these leaders some distance based boosts to things like morale (or morale impact reduction, so deaths don't cause troopers closer to the leader to panic so badly), or accuracy (the boss is watching!!) etc. Distance based so they can't hide in the dropship and are risked.

Do I just want a solid crew of troopers who know their stuff, or do I risk setting someone as a leader and getting an extra edge, but it all goes south if he gets dead? that is a nice choice to give to the player, a strategic choice.

Edited by LeftyRighty

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Rank already affects morale in the way you describe, however a rifleman who shoots less accurately at the guy trying to kill him because his CO is not in vicinity should be in an institution. :P

On the question at hand I don't think the rank system is too unreasonable. The current ranks are immediately recognisable by most people, even if such a rank's function in a real world military might not be. And they give a satisfying reward for keeping soldiers alive, which will be more difficult when the AI is done.

I don't mind the commanding officer idea though, but for ease I think it would be best if the highest ranking soldier has the title automatically. If tied, the one with most missions, if tied the one with most kills etc. etc.

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Interesting suggestion. I remember original XCom games having a limit on commanders and captains and other higher-ranking officers, like you could only have one colonel (can't remember exactly what it was) per base.

The character did not differ from the others, but it had an effect of keeping the morale from caving in if a low-ranking rookie soldier died. However, the coin also had a flip-side, which meant that if he died, everything went pear-shaped in an instant as everyone soiled their pants in sheer terror.

I would love to see this kind of behaviour, much like LeftyRighty mentioned, it would add some depth to the squad management.

I don't really care if it would be distance-based (I mean, the soldiers are carrying radio headsets, right?) or fixed, but I'd like it to be there. ;)

And what it comes to RL-ranks, I think we can bend those rules a bit. It doesn't need to be super-realistic to be fun. Unless, of course, there will be an option to choose between a "realistic rank system" and "this is a game fgs" when starting the game. :)

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There was a lot of dicsussion in this thread about ranks in Xenonauts. Chris had this to say about it:

Well it's certainly under consideration to have manually-promoted officers, but the system isn't nailed down yet. It's something we're going to have to play around with in the beta I think as right now we're concentrating on game-critical systems that haven't been implmeneted yet.

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Rank already affects morale in the way you describe, however a rifleman who shoots less accurately at the guy trying to kill him because his CO is not in vicinity should be in an institution. :P

Fair point, I was struggling for a "nonmorale" based example... need more coffee :P

I would love to see this kind of behaviour, much like LeftyRighty mentioned, it would add some depth to the squad management.

I don't really care if it would be distance-based (I mean, the soldiers are carrying radio headsets, right?) or fixed, but I'd like it to be there. ;)

The distance based side is to counter the "hide the boss in the dropship". If he's going to provide a bonus (and therefore be worth having) you need to risk him to balance out that bonus.

I don't mind the commanding officer idea though, but for ease I think it would be best if the highest ranking soldier has the title automatically. If tied, the one with most missions, if tied the one with most kills etc. etc.

again, the idea would be to invest some cost (and therefore bring in the risk) into earning a bonus, so something akin to the rookie -> cpl training, but grunt -> leader. Having a default for when one isn't present is a good idea, but they wouldn't be trained so shouldn't add any/much of a bonus.

At least it would add some gameplay to the ranks beyond the current(or at least original) "morale" impact.

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There is a difference even between the ranks in the air-force, army and marine, so why shouldn't Xenonauts be able to have a unique structure?

Not really. They have different names for things, but for the most part that's flavor. Functionally, the ranks and rates tend to translate pretty directly from service to service (with a few pretty minor exceptions).

I tend to think you have a lot of higher ranks running around because the xenonauts are meant to be the best, and the best isn't full of wet behind the ears privates.

What I'm saying is that a team of captains (and especially colonels) aren't going to be a more effective fighting force than a bunch of enlisted people. The enlisted ranks have always "done" the fighting. And while there are many perfectly capable combat officers, rank does not suggest skill. And as a general rule, the higher your rank (in the officer corps particularly) the more distanced you're going to be from the front lines.

When you can select 10 out of your pool of 50 troops (numbers are just an example) then you may choose to take all of your higher ranks and leave the privates behind.

See, what I described is a parallel ranking structure. I'm not suggesting forcing the player to have mostly low-ranking people on missions. I'm suggesting keeping things a bit more true-to-life while differentiating between your leadership and your general infantry. Again, the point is that a bunch of captains are really not likely to be better at combat than a bunch of E-4s and E-5s. As the game progresses, you may find yourself running around with a bunch of E-8s and E-9s! They're still high-ranking, but if they're in the specialist branch as I propose, their combat skills will be at a level well beyond what your officer(s) will have, and as I stated, the player would choose to have the option to promote further officers from among any enlisted they desire.

Considering also the high mortality rate of the game and the requirement for at least 4, maybe 5 bases worldwide, spreading out your skilled troops among all of your installations is just good sense.

Limiting player choice like that is bad game design.

Limiting player choice is game design.

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Yes, it's not a realistic structure. Will we change it? I don't know. I'm not sure the game needs a deeper promotion structure for soldiers because their rank only affects their morale boosting aura, and for me in X-Com the rank of a soldier was just an easy way to judge their combat experience. I see what you're saying, though.

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I'm in agreement with Oktober, and not just because I too am ex-military and have a "thing" about too many officers hanging around. :)

If the morale system ends up functioning at all like in the original X-Com, having a squad full of captains late in the game is a certain guarantee for morale failures and panic all over. A few squad members get KIA and all of a sudden your squad falls apart.

What we have right now is an eight man fire team. There shouldn't even be an officer in the field with that small of a tactical unit. Almost all of them should be PFC or Spec-4, and led by a SGT or an experienced CPL.

I am however very glad to read that assigned roles are coming. That will make it much easier to designate my squad heavy weapon (LMG), fire support (sniper), and combat medic.

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Not really. They have different names for things, but for the most part that's flavor. Functionally, the ranks and rates tend to translate pretty directly from service to service (with a few pretty minor exceptions).
Well... there really is no functionality the way you mean it in game. There is no chain of command to speak of, everyone follows the players instructions. But yeah you may be right about that, I was only talking about names.

Since the game does not reflect a real life military force in function you can technically call them whatever you want. Call them secretary of state, El presidente, prime minister or whatever. Steal the ranks from Warhammer 40k space marines if you want.

While ranks may translate well within American military forces that's not really given for other nations. (Did you know for instance that Brazil has flipped the admiral and fleet admiral ranks compared to US?) So what is going to be realistic to you is possibly going to be slightly off to other nationalities... And I REALLY hope this game isn't going to be US centric.

BTW: is Xenonauts airforce, army or space marines?

Limiting player choice is game design.

Yes, but limiting it like that is bad game design! (mostly because I disagree with it *tongue in cheek* :P)

PS. Clarification: I'm just being silly about the last quote.

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PS. Clarification: I'm just being silly about the last quote.

Yeah, I gotcha! :P

And again, while various nations' militaries may have cosmetic differences in name, they're generally all built on the same basic structure. I'm suggesting implementing something that more closely approximates that structure within this game.

If you're concerned about the Xenonauts becoming overly-Americanized, the UN peacekeeper forces (on whom the Xenonauts already seem to be based, what with their periwinkle uniforms) structure could be an inspiration to keep things nice and blandly inoffensive.

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See, what I described is a parallel ranking structure. I'm not suggesting forcing the player to have mostly low-ranking people on missions. I'm suggesting keeping things a bit more true-to-life while differentiating between your leadership and your general infantry. Again, the point is that a bunch of captains are really not likely to be better at combat than a bunch of E-4s and E-5s. As the game progresses, you may find yourself running around with a bunch of E-8s and E-9s! They're still high-ranking, but if they're in the specialist branch as I propose, their combat skills will be at a level well beyond what your officer(s) will have, and as I stated, the player would choose to have the option to promote further officers from among any enlisted they desire.

As far as I can see what you described is basically the same as the current system but with the ranks renamed and the top few ranks limited by a training course.

It makes no real difference if you call them corporals, E-8's, level 2 fighters, or anything else you can think of.

The ranks are there to show how the troops have progressed and give a way to tell easily who is generally (no pun intended) more experienced and therefore likely to be better.

The only thing I didn't like about the ranks in x-com:eu was that once someone got promoted they would consistently remain higher rank than more experienced troops, even if you never took them on another mission.

If the promotions can be based on actual combat experience I will be happier, no matter what the ranks end up being called.

I have no interest in the military and their ranks so for me the easiest way to resolve the issues some people have with the ranks not reflecting the real world would be to change their names completely to non military titles.

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Pfft...non-commissioned officer corp and officer corp are American ideas? I can't believe I read that. Oh, please. The Greeks and Romans had that millennia ago, it might be even older.

Xenonaughts might be more like special forces, one or two officers for a team of senior non-commissioned officers.

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Pfft...non-commissioned officer corp and officer corp are American ideas? I can't believe I read that. Oh, please. The Greeks and Romans had that millennia ago, it might be even older.

Xenonaughts might be more like special forces, one or two officers for a team of senior non-commissioned officers.

Where exactly did you read that part? 0.o

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While ranks may translate well within American military forces that's not really given for other nations. (Did you know for instance that Brazil has flipped the admiral and fleet admiral ranks compared to US?) So what is going to be realistic to you is possibly going to be slightly off to other nationalities... And I REALLY hope this game isn't going to be US centric.

I think he read that part here. Frankly, I'm not really sure what you're trying to say, anyway. Just that there are some variation in rank names between various services, from nation to nation? None of which really has much to do with my suggestion.

Behind those title-variances, the same general arrangements and chains of command exist. My issue is with structure more than title, though seeing as how the real world has provided us with plenty of examples of how it operates, I don't think it should be too difficulty approximating a viable structure within the game.

(Also,

Did you know for instance that Brazil has flipped the admiral and fleet admiral ranks compared to US?

I don't know what this means, or what you're trying to say. The US has 4 distinct Admiral ranks, excluding Fleet Admiral, which is a rank only used during times of war -- declared by congress -- and has only been used 4 or 5 times in the history of the US. Are you saying that Brazil calls their regular admirals Fleet Admirals? So what?)

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My issue is with structure more than title, though seeing as how the real world has provided us with plenty of examples of how it operates, I don't think it should be too difficulty approximating a viable structure within the game.

Well seems I've misunderstood you or made some assumptions that has caused misunderstandings.

I've thought its mostly about the names since quite frankly you can't copy the chain of command from real life since there isn't a chain of command in the game. There isn't any structure at all. ranks just reflect experience. So as I see it the only thing we can discuss is the names of the ranks.

The only thing ive seen suggested is to some how artificially separate the ranks named after officer ranks from the named after enlisted ranks with some hurdle or other when promoting them but not really changing any function of the officer ranks. (you do talk about moral bonus but AFAIK that's already how it works or is intended to work without being officer specific. I might have misunderstood that part but Guaddliek knows more about that system I think)

About the fleet admiral: seems wikipedia failed me :P (or I was really sloppy looking through it. but when looking through the page for Brazilian navy ranks and the US navy ranks they looked the same except fleet admiral and admiral had been switched around in the list.)

Edited by Gorlom

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And yeah, as far as names go, perhaps I would prefer just a totally different type of rank-identifier. My brain is hardwired that officers and enlisted should behave a certain way.

If they went from "Xenogrunt" to "Xenopro" designations (those being simply placeholders, not real suggestions), it would be unique enough to skirt the issue, I think.

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That is my feeling to be honest, the troopers don't follow a real world rank system so maybe they shouldn't use the names.

It seems to either irritate those who care about the military and its command chain or mean nothing to the people who either don't know or don't care about the difference between a corporal and a captain.

The current system works as a progression indicator.

It might be improved if you have the option of training for higher ranks but only if those ranks mean something special, or at least different to the lower ones.

The military (i.e. the advisors on the launch screen and the player) are giving the orders while your ground troops are the ones following them.

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Yeah. I think we're on to something here! This is a good compromise.

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I listed a few examples on alternative rank names in some other thread on the same topic. But that just resulted in some guy (that didn't fully grasp the English language and especially didn't grasp sarcasm) trying to use sarcasm to dismiss my opinion. Apparently he didn't consider me "qualified" to have an opinion on the subject because my opinion differed from his.

Edited by Gorlom

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