Infinitum

The experience system kind of sucks

47 posts in this topic

There, I typed it. Now I realize the point of this excercise is to haul the spirit of UFO into the new millenium, but if there's one particular piece of the old game that could use redoing it's that. As is, it's rewarding the player for engaging in illogical, monotonous tasks. Examples would having the team members run circles out of sight of the enemy in order to gain AP, or adding additional never-to-be-used grenades to their backpacks in between every other mission to build strength. It's not to the point of gifting handguns to the Aliens and having them train reflexes for you, but only because knocking Aliens unconscious hasn't been implemented yet.

This is not good game design, nor does it make sense from a flavor point of view. Worse, it's tedious. It replaces time spent not actually playing the game in any meaningful sense of the word with in-game stat increases. It takes time and focus away from what should be the core of gameplay - tactical combat - and replaces it with what, +2 strength?

Please reimagine. Even something simple like random skill advancement would be a gigantic leap upwards from this. Hell, scrap skill advancement outside of Morale/Nerve altogether and it would be a step up. Kinda like they did with the olde Rainbow Six games -you had a rooster of guys/gals with different skillsets, some obviously superior to others and thus had an incentive to keep the better dudes alive (and having to make do with inferior replacements should they become wounded/KIA).

EDIT: Basically, talking about this and why it detracts from the game.

Edited by Infinitum

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Do you have any more concrete suggestions? "Come up with something better" and some loose concepts aren't that inspiring. Especially since it's before any proper balancing has been done. There is a chance that you might like it better after it's been balanced.

I can't tell from your post if you know that there is a limitation to how much skill up you can get per mission, do you approve of that or see that as part of the problem?

I think that I personally would find your preference to be rather disappointing. :(

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to be fair to OP he/she/alien infiltrator does mention a couple of alternatives, so it's not just a "come up with something better" and that it.

I suppose if it's something you don't like, then don't do it. I don't feel compelled to min/max my soldiers at every opportunity. If you find it "tedious" then you're not going to lose the game for not doing it. I only get the soldiers to fire at things on the last round of a mission and it's mainly just to test things out.

Likewise, I don't get them to run round the Chinook to get extra APs in. I do find that they're on the move in nearly all of the rounds anyway in a mission. As a result, I suppose the advancement of my soldiers is a bit behind some other players.

But as you say, it's there to be exploited, so...

I'm not keen on random skill advancement because it doesn't reward your soldiers for the efforts that they've put in. I want Cpl Hicks to get the advancements for all the work in the field, not Lt Gorman for sitting on his butt in the Chinook.

Dropping them all together is a better option. The soldiers are already towards their peak, so it's a question of just how much battling an alien invention can expand their already expert status. I would imagine that there would be at least some improvement, but then that would just be there to be exploited.

Skill sets aren't likely to make the game as such. But if they were there, would there be any advancement options for them. If so then you're back to the exploit again.

If not, and this goes for the no advancements in general, it's a good feeling seeing your soldiers advance, and I'm not convinced removing it adds anything to the game.

So, I think the current method works quite well. As mentioned there are limits to the advancements, so there's only so much running aorund the Chinook in each mission that's going to make a difference. So that's a healthy check.

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to me, this is single player game, and if the gamer discovered an unique way to build his squad, so be it, even it is some sort of exploit.

it is a choice of gameplay, a freedom. nobody ever forcing one for repetitively-monotonous action in the tactical combat.

hopes the developer won't nerf this and that as a dictator in Diablo 3, otherwise, it kills the sustainability of the game.

i use following diagram to describe my view : i am more appreciate a game that explorable than controlled-narrow-corridors, thanks!

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I don't really feel the need to "grind" stats like that. This game (and X-COM before it) was never meant to be like most RPGs, where the heroes constantly get stronger and stronger until at the end they can shrug off almost everything without blinking.

But if we're looking for alternatives, I rather liked the X-COM Apocalypse approach. I forget if your troops actually gained experience from battles, but your base had training centers that you could assign them to, and their stats would slowly improve THAT way.

Alternately, more training programs could be introduced. There's already one for "Corporal training" (which I'm sure will be fully implemented at some point), but there could be others to help a Xenonaut with specific stats - marskmanship training, bodybuilding programs, reaction training, and so forth.

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I prefer for advancement to be linked to what has actually been done.

As long as the action makes sense.

It is about attachment for me.

As you use squad members they don't just advance in stats they take on a bit of life.

Bernard 'The Beast' Revenu who took out that chrysalid filled base practically solo.

Shuji 'Click' Koyama who forgot to take reloads so had to scavenge weapons to complete his mission.

Nikolai 'Boomerang' Belov who can never throw a grenade straight even though his stats say he should be able to.

If someone has just sat at the base doing nothing until they become my best soldier it just isn't the same for me.

If I need to replace a vet with a base monkey then I don't want the squad to be eclipsed.

They are my most experienced troops, that should count for more than a few training courses.

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Infinitum, your arguments touch on many points without explaining what you mean by them. As a consequence, I have to discard the things you don't explain in favour of the things you do when considering a response to your post. I apologise if you feel I'm slighting you in this response, it's just I can't respond to what you don't say.

I understand from your post that you consider it it is illogical for a squaddie to get better at something by doing that thing they want to get better at. Which in turn, seems illogical to me. How else is a squaddie going to get better at something, if they don't do it? Is it that you mean that it is logical for someone to get better at something by the process of practice and doing that thing, but it is illogical for a squaddie to get better at something by the player discovering a means by which the squaddie is rewarded for doing an action which should not reward the player for doing that action, but does? Does that mean in turn that with the current system of levelling up, you feel it is too easy to exploit the system, and either such loopholes as exist should be closed, or a new system should be devised which is difficult and unrewarding to exploit and rewards tactical and engaging play?

As an example of "closing loopholes", uh, you could set "gates" to levelling up. Like a squaddie gets no progress points for any stat unless they have shot at an alien that turn. Or progress points could be taken away for every civillian that gets killed. There are many forms of gates that could be employed to close loopholes and force the player not to muck about.

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I don't really feel the need to "grind" stats like that.

Same with me. I just never think about exploiting the game like that so it's a non-issue for me. What's more the stat gain is limited (per mission) this time which makes the exploit not really worth while. Just play the game and your guys will get better with time, no need to think about it much.

Also, someone should notify Bethesda that their skill advancement system is out dated. Bunny hopping to increase gymnastics ftw.

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Do you have any more concrete suggestions? "Come up with something better" and some loose concepts aren't that inspiring. Especially since it's before any proper balancing has been done. There is a chance that you might like it better after it's been balanced.

No. The levelling system in UFO:EU was terribad by design and Goldhawk has adopted it wholesale. I don't need nor feel compelled to "come up with something better" in order to point that out.

i use following diagram to describe my view : i am more appreciate a game that explorable than controlled-narrow-corridors, thanks!

That was such a good DOOM map. Of course, it was about as linear as linear could be until you found the secret doors prior to and after the Yellow key that allowed you to skip parts of it and collect a Soul Sphere, at which point you did that instead every time. Yeah.

However, in what ways does the current skill system entice the player to explore it? Either you have your dudes perform monotonous tasks and get ++ stats or you don't. The former choice is obviously superior. The only relevant decision on the players part is whether to bother or not.

I prefer for advancement to be linked to what has actually been done.

As long as the action makes sense.

It doesn't. These are special forces we're talking about - they're supposed to be at, or close to, their physical prime. They're expected to train relentlessly to maintain this. Yet according to the game the only way to build cardio is to jog around in close proximity to the enemy, preferrably whilst maximally emburdened to build strength. It does make sense for Morale/PSI resistance to increase as the soldiers get used to fighting the unknown (and not going insane when things go south would be a suitable positive for veteran Xenonauts). The other stats though? Not so much.

Infinitum, your arguments touch on many points without explaining what you mean by them. As a consequence, I have to discard the things you don't explain in favour of the things you do when considering a response to your post. I apologise if you feel I'm slighting you in this response, it's just I can't respond to what you don't say.

Fair enough.

It is about attachment for me.

As you use squad members they don't just advance in stats they take on a bit of life.

And this attachment is directly related to stat gain. Really?

Also, someone should notify Bethesda that their skill advancement system is out dated. Bunny hopping to increase gymnastics ftw.

It's not just TES either. I can't for the life of me name a single game where this kind of system has actually worked as intended (intent ostensibly being getting better at things organically rather than the bunny jumping, cantrip casting, rat punching crapfest that inevitably ensues).

I suppose if it's something you don't like, then don't do it. I don't feel compelled to min/max my soldiers at every opportunity. If you find it "tedious" then you're not going to lose the game for not doing it. I only get the soldiers to fire at things on the last round of a mission and it's mainly just to test things out.

Likewise, I don't get them to run round the Chinook to get extra APs in. I do find that they're on the move in nearly all of the rounds anyway in a mission. As a result, I suppose the advancement of my soldiers is a bit behind some other players.

it is a choice of gameplay, a freedom. nobody ever forcing one for repetitively-monotonous action in the tactical combat.
Same with me. I just never think about exploiting the game like that so it's a non-issue for me. What's more the stat gain is limited (per mission) this time which makes the exploit not really worth while. Just play the game and your guys will get better with time, no need to think about it much.

The levelling system being safe to ignore isn't exactly a point in it's favor either. Playing the game doesn't require the player to spend an extra 5 minutes to click guys around or set up elaborate situations to boost stats without putting the squaddies at risk. Granted. Not my point.

Playing the game optimally sure as hell does however. Worse, the tasks required to maximize the gains from the current system being repetitious, illogical and disconnected from ordinary gameplay is.. bad. Real bad. The game actively punishing the player for knowing how to abuse it bad. Most players knowingly handicapping themselves because the alternative is active boredom bad. UFO being a good game despite having some seriously flawed design bad. What-does-this-even-bring-to-the-game-other-than-lizard-brain-gratification bad.

Edited by Infinitum

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Infinitum, I'm being a bit thick here, so please help me out. To me, you making assertions without explaining them. Your last paragraph is filled with such assertions. X is bad. Y is bad. Z is bad. But the assertions are hanging without supporting evidence. Could you elaborate a little on the points you make, please.

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What about having two ways of improving stats:

First the training facility: you can train your soldiers between missions: send them to cardio and strength training sessions with expensive personal trainers. You could build a shooting range to train your soldiers accuracy. But this all cost money.

Second the field experience: In tactical missions you don't run very often, its more the psychic experience you get. You have seen so many aliens so you don't shake of fear anymore (more bravery). The soldiers learn where to shoot (the alien xy has its heart on the right side not the left) and to hold still even with a terrifying alien in front of them. This could result in better accuracy and maybe a little damage bonus.

So get more APs and Strength at the base, and learn Accuracy and Bravery in the field (by shooting aliens, not just running around in circles).

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And this attachment is directly related to stat gain. Really?

I think if you read my whole post you will see that I never claimed attachment to your troops was about stat gain.

I said it was about actually playing those specific characters.

Limiting progression to training outside of combat doesn't reward you for playing, and surviving, with your troops.

In fact it rewards you for having a second set of troops back at base permanently in training.

These base monkeys would become your best troops while your most played ones become relatively weaker.

Then you either bench your main team in favour of a new bunch of faceless rookies with better stats or you carry on playing the squad you know and handicap yourself.

There is no huge benefit to exploiting the game the way you see as being 'optimum' play.

Currently having a strength higher than you need to effectively wear your armour and carry your chosen weapon does nothing.

You don't really have any need to boost your strength beyond this point and it is perfectly possible to hire someone with the required strength.

Accuracy increases are always useful but will also likely only happen when firing on an enemy, which you should really be doing anyway.

That may slightly reward the player that hunts down every enemy on the map over the one who captures objectives with less combat.

As the total increase per trooper is a couple of points per battle at most that isn't going to be a huge bonus, especially with troops who are already high accuracy.

AP increases are always useful, I can't remember how you boost that but it is probably something like using 90% of your available AP a few times in a fight.

More than likely going to happen anyway and not an insurmountable penalty for the ones who don't get an increase.

Even if there are a lot of people out there who want to grind every trooper to maximum in every stat then why is that a problem?

They may have some slightly easier ground fights than someone who is just taking the increases as they come probably.

It would take them an awful long time to do it but if that is what they enjoy doing then why not?

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I like my guys getting better as I use them, and I like to split up my uber squad over my new detachments I set up.

I think perhaps it should be a bit more restrictive, maybe only getting a boost when you take down aliens, as well as doing related things. So you can run around all you like, but if the soldier is not directly involved in the fighting, he'll get no boosts. Maybe just injure an alien, actually.

It does seem kind of silly to only be able to boost strength in the field though. I do see this as a big deal, as with the heavier armour, it can get quite restrictive on being able to take med-packs and the odd grenade along.

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The higher armour will also give a strength boost to allow you to wear it and carry a big weapon, like power assisted strength.

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I don't really feel the need to "grind" stats like that...But if we're looking for alternatives, I rather liked the X-COM Apocalypse approach...but your base had training centers that you could assign them to, and their stats would slowly improve THAT way...There's already one for "Corporal training" (which I'm sure will be fully implemented at some point), but there could be others to help a Xenonaut with specific stats - marskmanship training, bodybuilding programs, reaction training, and so forth.

I also never felt the need to increase status though extra or artificial actions in the original games. I vaguely recall reading somewhere in the forums that the existing training system might be toned down a bit not expanded?

I'd like to split the difference. In the Game Boy Advance game Rebelstar: Tactical Command I remember training simulator missions against robots which you could use to improve specific stats by engaging in related actions (shooting etc.) I'd welcome similar to practice what tactics work for my style of game play as well as increasing stats while avoiding "running around" a mission map just because.

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Infinitum, if I understand you correctly, your complaint wholly boils down to the fact that the XP system as currently implemented encourages illogical and repetitive/boring behaviour. And that, by extension, if Goldhawk was able to maintain the current system, but somehow identify actions that are exploiting the system and eliminate any XP gain from them, you would have no real problem with the system.

This would be a valid complaint if the game required you to compete against other players, and the ones willing to spend hours in pointless grinding were advantaged against you if you didn't do the same grinding. It would be a valid complaint if the difficulty was balanced on the assumption that the player will engage in pointless XP grinding.

But as neither of those are true, grinding will only occur if the player feels that doing so will add to his enjoyment. If you somehow feel compelled to grind for XP even though you don't enjoy doing so, that's your call, and if that is the case I can't see how you can blame Goldhawk for your own masochistic compulsions.

I sure as hell won't be grinding away for XP. However, I don't believe it would be a useful allocation of resources for Goldhawk to change the game to prevent grinding just to inhibit the enjoyment of people who enjoy doing so, or to protect from themselves the people who for some reason feel compelled to grind in spite of the fact they consider it stupid/boring.

If you can propose an XP system that actually increases my enjoyment, I'd be all for it. As it is, you are complaining about a problem that is only a problem if the player chooses to make it one.

Edited by Sable Wyvern

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As long as it's not always better to just load up your guys with pistols to train reflexes, I'm okay with whatever system.

Would love to see Fighter Pilot names and an "experience light" system implemented for them, though. I'd also like an option to hide the attribute numbers on people, and just have them described as "good, average, very good" or similar - more immersive that way.

If someone wants to run circles with their guys in order to beat the game more easily, feel free - the OP seems to indicate that if there's a loophole-slash-exploit, he feels compelled to use it. I don't. I play to enjoy the game and imagine myself as a real commander.

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I think the biggest thing you are missing is that this is an Alpha and because of this the AI is soft, the maps are the same, there is no risk in doing any groud combat.

When the final game hits you will not want to be carrying 5 tons as you will need the extra move time.

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There seems to be this conception that I'm compelled to max out stats and abuse the current system - I'm not. The old X-com (and current non-) AI is plenty dumb enough to make beating it in tactical mode a pushover once you learn how to take advantage of it anyway, stats nonwithstanding. I just don't see how the current system as is adds to the game experience other than the constant annoyance that it awards the player for all the wrong behaviours, and being largely irrelevant at that. It isn't that it isn't functional. It isn't even that big of a deal to me personally as it should be easily moddable by adjusting some game-file numbers. It just kind of sucks by design, and that's a shame since the dev team obviously isn't shy of trying to improve the original game in other areas.

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There seems to be this conception that I'm compelled to max out stats and abuse the current system - I'm not. The old X-com (and current non-) AI is plenty dumb enough to make beating it in tactical mode a pushover once you learn how to take advantage of it anyway, stats nonwithstanding. I just don't see how the current system as is adds to the game experience other than the constant annoyance that it awards the player for all the wrong behaviours, and being largely irrelevant at that. It isn't that it isn't functional. It isn't even that big of a deal to me personally as it should be easily moddable by adjusting some game-file numbers. It just kind of sucks by design, and that's a shame since the dev team obviously isn't shy of trying to improve the original game in other areas.

Well what is wrong with it? What are the wrong things

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The idea with the final system is that any soldier used in properly battle (ie. rather than sitting in the Chinook or avoiding all combat) will automatically level up most of his stats a couple of times, but is is capped at 2 points in each attribute per stat per battle. It may be slow at the moment, but that's what balancing is for.

One of your main objections seems to be "special forces soldiers would not gain a skill-up for doing mundane things". This is fair enough, until you realise that this is a game. Of course special forces soldiers wouldn't get noticably fitter or stronger running around the battlefield, or become more accurate just shooting at enemies (assuming they already have combat experience), but frankly very few special forces soldiers will increase their abilities very much once they've already gained special forces experience. And it wouldn't be a very fun game with no advancement whatsoever.

And adding soldier advancement that isn't linked with combat is breaking the risk / reward mechanic of risking your troops dying in order to make them better at fighting, which would be extremely bad game design.

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Of course special forces soldiers wouldn't get noticably fitter or stronger running around the battlefield, or become more accurate just shooting at enemies (assuming they already have combat experience), but frankly very few special forces soldiers will increase their abilities very much once they've already gained special forces experience.

I like to think of it as gaining in combat experience against a threat that is brand new to mankind. The accuracy increase it to show the soldier's capability at dealing with a variety of different lifeforms, the strength is an increase to cope with the unusual equipment load outs that will appear with advanced weaponry and armour. In other words, the soldiers are facing situations and experiences that no previous combat unit has had, and this is what drives the stat increases. This applies also to Bravery, where this lot are the first (sorry second) lot to face the prospect of immediate alien threats.

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The idea with the final system is that any soldier used in properly battle (ie. rather than sitting in the Chinook or avoiding all combat) will automatically level up most of his stats a couple of times [...]

[...] And adding soldier advancement that isn't linked with combat is breaking the risk / reward mechanic of risking your troops dying in order to make them better at fighting, which would be extremely bad game design.

The problem is that it -is- a game, and thus quite easy for the player to manage (or remove altogether) the actual dangers from the simulated combat in order to farm experience; from having troops do laps in small scout missions to the convoluted pistol/power armor firing squads of UFO. Most of these exploits can probably be removed by tweaking (introducing a turn limit, having disarmed enemies not pick up human weaponry, tying XP gain to dealing/receiving damage etc), but this doesn't remove the fact that at it's core the experience system encourages a different set of behaviours than the tactical simulation. X-COM was indeed extemely badly designed in that department.

[...] but is is capped at 2 points in each attribute per stat per battle.

Which changes optimal play from 10 repetitions of any given action (in X-COM) to however many is required to maximize the chance of a series of +2's. This doesn't change the fundamental problem of having to grind (however little) to maximize stat gains however.

One of your main objections seems to be "special forces soldiers would not gain a skill-up for doing mundane things". This is fair enough, until you realise that this is a game.

Whilst I do give you it's kind of silly to argue the realistic merits of combat experience and it's effects on performance in the context of ALIEN INVASION!, "It's a game" is too broad an argument to apply here. Ending up with a squad of superhuman He-Men (and Women) didn't strain disbelied further in X-COM since the general direction of that game was that of an early-90's action cartoon. It does stick out in Xenonauts what with the more realistic setting however.

And it wouldn't be a very fun game with no advancement whatsoever.

I'm not opposed to soldiers gaining veteran status over the course of the campaign. From a realism perspective I would personally prefer it if it was limited to morale bonuses, and from a game design perspective I would very much prefer it if the player couldn't influence it directly.

I do challenge that assertion however - RPG-style stat and advancement systems can be tacked onto literally any game should the developer wish to. What makes it indispensable to this particular title in your opinion (apart from the non-zero percentage of the fanbase who would aggressively loathe doing away with original features)?

Edited by Infinitum

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I'm not opposed to soldiers gaining veteran status over the course of the campaign. From a realism perspective I would personally prefer it if it was limited to morale bonuses, and from a game design perspective I would very much prefer it if the player couldn't influence it directly.

I do challenge that assertion however - RPG-style stat and advancement systems can be tacked onto literally any game should the developer wish to. What makes it indispensable to this particular title in your opinion (apart from the non-zero percentage of the fanbase who would aggressively loathe doing away with original features)?

While I agree with you that it would be more fun if the stat advancement could be tied into stuff outside the players control, I strongly disagree that stat advancement should be limited to moral bonuses.

If you limit the playable units like that you need to limit the computer controlled units as ell. The enemies would be much more two dimensional and the difference in late game aliens and the early game aliens would be smaller.

I also think you should wait until it's actually balanced before you decide that the system is bad on principle. It is possible that the AP gain could be balanced in such a way that it's impossible to gain extra AP by doing laps over just playing the game as intended.

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