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Chris

Burst Fire Update

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So, one of the last things to consider before beta (or in the early stages of beta perhaps) is a revamp to how burst fire works. This is seperate from, but linked to, the addition of suppression mechanics to the game.

The problem is that there's not sufficient differentiation between single shots and burst fire. This makes the tactical game a bit more dull (less tools at your disposal) but also makes my life as a game designer harder. We've got machineguns in the game, but they're basically just sniper rifles that fire several bullets at once at the moment.

In game terms, burst fire should (and does) consume more ammo and suppress more than single fire mode per AP spent. It should also cause less damage to single targets per AP spent at range, but it should have the possibility of causing minor damage to multiple enemies instead of hitting just one. It should also damage the surrounding terrain - after all, lots of shots are being fired! Finally, at close range it should be potentially devastating, as all those otherwise wayward shots are much more likely to hit the target, which might end in something like five to ten seperate shots hitting the target.

Basically, I want burst fire to feel like the soldier is blazing away with their weapon and have it actually appear to have a tangible effect on the battlefield. At the moment, burst fire just doesn't feel "strong" enough.

I'm open to suggestions on how it could be handled, as I've not got anything definite planned yet. I'm currently musing some form of circular template system where a certain number of hits are randomly assigned to any tile or object within that circle, and suppression is applied to all targets in the circle. The circle would be tighter the closer the target is to the shooting unit, simulating the effect of range on accuracy.

Some weapons would be entitled to more hits and bigger circles, to represent weight of fire - ie. the machinegun or the Ferret 50cal. In graphical terms, the game would just play the bullet impact animation for each hit on a tile.

The disadvantage of this is that it's a bit predictable, and it doesn't take soldier accuracy into account - but then, burst fire isn't meant to be accurate anyway. As long as it's balanced so that it does on average less damage than single fire then it could work...

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There has been discussion on burst fire previously. Here’s a quick recap for the audience at home.

Mike1001931 posted an idea where you set two points and fire shots between them.

In the Suppression Mechanics thread there was considerable vocal support for burst fire to eat ammunition, especially machineguns.

Erutan raised the JA2 idea of burst fire in his thread. In that, the first shot is the most accurate, with each successive shot becoming less accurate.

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Then again, why make it hard when you can make it simple? Also, accuracy not being universally useful is not a bad thing in itself. What would the advantages be of a circle based system compared to the current conse of fire?

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Not so keen on the circle template.

Possible a cone template for bursts emanating from the trooper?

Gives you the opportunity to try and drop the cone over multiple targets and still gives you a good visual cue when someone will be out of the line of fire or behind cover.

Possibly even give a percentage chance of each object getting hit by the burst.

Objects further away or behind other objects would show as harder to hit.

The cone would also naturally demonstrate your greater accuracy up close because it would be narrower there so it would be more likely for more shots to pass through a smaller area.

The cone could also be used as the area for a suppression effect.

Might even pave the way for a bullet based suppression system ;)

I would like burst fire, like the AR 3 round burst, to be a separate mode from full auto mode on a machine gun.

You have bursts for slightly more accurate attempts at damage or go full auto when you want more dakka.

*edit* Might work well with single or full auto on an SMG.

It sort of reflects the single/burst relationship from smaller weapons really.

Full auto would be nice as the ultimate area suppression at the cost of lots of ammo and your whole AP bar.

The game would need to see how many AP you had and divide that by the AP cost for a full auto round then fire the correct number of shots.

Up sides would be great suppression, potentially great damage if the enemy was close enough.

Down sides would be AP cost, ammo cost, if your first shot killed the enemy you would keep hosing down the area.

Another down side is that with the current suppression system it would not work as well as it would with a bullet based suppression system unless you used the cone template idea.

*edit* To explain I mention this because if suppression was based on the bullet then firing ten rounds would be ten times the suppression of firing one.

If that was the case you could go full auto at any point on your AP bar and get the correct amount of suppression for the number of rounds you are firing.

With the current system full auto would have a set amount of suppression regardless of how many rounds you fire.

Edited by Gauddlike

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I believe in JA they set the total AP cost of burst fire as an inital cost, then a set AP cost per bullet fired. If you wanted to differentiate AP costs between single and burst, you could follow that model. Set an inital cost, say for example, make the first shot as expensive as a single shot (17 AP for an AR). Then 3 AP per shot fired. That way, burst firing costs could scale up.

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Yeah something like that is what I was thinking.

Using 17 AP as the first shot then 5 AP for subsequent shots as examples:

If you had 70 AP when you went full auto the game would take 17 away for firing the shot then divide the remaining 53 AP by shot cost (5 AP) to determine that you can fire a further 10.6 rounds.

The cone would then be sprayed with 11 rounds.

If you had 30 AP left when you went full auto you would only fire 3 rounds down the cone.

Burst fire would work in pretty much the same way except that you have to fire exactly that number i.e. unable to burst fire unless you could fire all three rounds.

If a cone template was used should its width vary depending on number of shots fired or should it always be the same size?

Full auto would likely have a wider cone than burst still I imagine.

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That burst fire should cost more ammunition is a given but I think we should really differentiate between burst fire, which is usually understood as a 3 round burst and mostly aimed, and full auto, which is the most obvious tool to generate suppression.

1. There needs to be a clear distinction between semi auto and burst.

For instance, single shot means carefully aimed and increases the nominal weapon range by 30-50%.

This does not only affect the accuracy of the fire mode (which you can probably already set separately) but it also increases the effective range of the weapon - the distance at which the damage falls off.

Burst fire would not nearly be as useful for a "super sniper" given sufficient soldier accuracy.

The inaccuracy of a long range burst would somewhat be countered by soldier accuracy but you're getting better punch with carefully aimed single shots.

It's a little gamey but not very. Mostly it achieves the goal of not being able to carefully aim an entire burst at a vulnerable spot of the target. You do less damage on average.

At shorter range, either fire mode is within nominal range so either fire mode does the same damage per bullet. The added firepower of using bursts becomes more advantageous.

Both fire modes should be useful. That's the reason of having two.

2. Auto fire

This is something they do in Firaxis' approach and I like the thinking behind it.

Full auto is what you mainly use to suppress targets. Not single shots or short bursts.

Uses maybe half a belt / magazine for one action and reloading takes time. In their version an entire turn so there is a major cost factor attached to it.

The "cost" of having to bring an extra magazine is laughable. It was irrelevant in UFO1, it is in Xenonauts, and in Firaxis' XCOM they tossed the magazine counting out the window because it had never made any difference.

Firing full auto with an assault rifle could empty maybe 2/3 a magazine, making it possible to occasionally lay down covering fire but making heavier weapons with larger magazine capacities much better suited for it.

To justify "full auto" firing a lot of "real", damaging bullets, the firing costs must obviously be high enough that you won't fire multiple barrages per round and the reload time of "heavy" weapons should also cost most of a turn.

Operating a machine gun without a loader to assist you is no fun.

If you have a loader to basically place an ammo box with a loose belt right next to your feed, reloading takes maybe 4 seconds. Less if you're motivated.

If you have to move around and arrange ammo boxes or belts - forget it. You'll get it done... eventually.

Akin to 1., the weapon range could be reduced when firing full auto. While it's possible to shower a target in bullets at long range, the damage would be greatly reduced.

Great to suppress something. Not so great to kill something. Duh! Use aimed fire to hit something vulnerable or get closer!

3. Heavy machine guns like the Ferret's .50 cal should also have to reload.

Say, the weapon automatically comes with 3 or 4 "belts".

When empty, it costs a lot of AP to insert a new belt.

Again, it's gamey that this would interfere with it's movement but you have to balance it's firepower somehow.

Maybe 3 barrages per belt, then most of a round to reload.

Time / actions are the true currency of the game, not the number of bullets. The bullets are really only there for looks. In a strategy game it's the actions that you can perform in a turn that are important.

It should also damage the surrounding terrain - after all, lots of shots are being fired! Finally, at close range it should be potentially devastating, as all those otherwise wayward shots are much more likely to hit the target, which might end in something like five to ten separate shots hitting the target.

Normally, the damage of the bullets is reduced at long range.

How about not reducing bullet damage when hitting any kind of terrain?

It's the damage vs live targets that is in need of balancing. If more things explode all around, it's just cooler. =)

If you use variable weapon ranges depending on the fire mode, you can balance the roles of those fire modes without those pesky high-accuracy soldiers tossing a wrench in the works.

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As others have already mentioned, the JA2 system of variable auto-fire lengths could be useful.

I wouldn't make it fiddly, though. You order one such barrage as one action, the machine gunner fires half a belt.

If he happens to have only 50-99% of the required AP for this autofire action, he can fire one long burst but only that percentage of bullets.

That would make fire and movement a bit less static allowing some movement while still suppressing targets... or doing reaction fire.

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I like the idea of effective range being based on shot type.

Not so keen on the full auto suggestion.

Seems like the amount of bullets you are suggesting firing would generate a hell of a lot of damage, even if the target was at long range.

20 assault rifle rounds or 25 machine gun rounds is going to make a mess of anything in the area, even if you knocked their damage down by 50% compared to a single shot.

I am not sure what effect ignoring weapon effective range when hitting terrain would have.

It could be good or bad.

On one hand it would make things more explosive, on the other hand it would also be destroying cover easily at long ranges.

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Seems like the amount of bullets you are suggesting firing would generate a hell of a lot of damage, even if the target was at long range.

It's what machine guns do. They really carve up the landscape.

It can only work if reloading is a major factor and your ammo evaporates like whisky on St.Patrick's day.

And at short range, where the range/damage reduction wouldn't count?

"It" would need one helluvalot of armour to shrug off half a belt of 7.62mm ammo.

Most things would turn into hamburger.

But... then you might end up with an empty and slow to reload weapon quite close to the friends of the unlucky target.

Edited by Gazz

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Would that then push the idea of circle-based targetting? If full-auto generates a lot of shots, if you have it cone-based then that means a lot of stray shots that will whistle by the target and hit anything else in the way. A circle-based system would ensure that the shots go in roughly the right area, adding a measure of control to where the burst of shots go.

EDIT: I just rapidly prototyped fully automatic by fiddling the weapons_gc.xml file. The only way that I can describe a machinegun firing 25 shots off all at once is WAAAAAGH DAKKADAKKADAKKA.

Edited by Max_Caine

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Chris, I think you're struggling with the concept of AREA Fire for suppression vs. aimed fire to kill a specific target. Area Fire is usually only conducted by entire military units and/or those armed with fully automatic weapons and plenty of ammo. In the Xenonauts world only vehicles with MG's and the M-60 soldier could/should attempt this. The assault rifle really isn't designed for this and it would require many men and a lot of ammo firing at the same building or whatever to do what a single M-60 or vehicle MG could do. Additionally, a lot of small arms are mechanically limited to short bursts because the military found that soldiers were wasting a lot of ammo. The main exception being sub-machineguns. My opinion is that in ground scale of Xenonauts and mission type I'm not sure this tactic would be used.

If you really want to do this my suggestion is not to fire in a "circle", but instead to have a separate order for MG's to fire in either a vertical or horizontal line (in relation to the facing of the MG) of say 5 to 6 squares with maybe double or triple the normal number of rounds you are using now. Maybe use the center of the sweep as the aim point. All you need to do is randomly roll a chance to fire through/into any of squares in the sweep pattern maybe plus or minus a couple of additionally squares i.e. outside the intended pattern. That will scatter the shots nicely. It also mean some tiles will get "hit" multiple times while others won't get hit all. Again this is realistic. In essence you will randomly target the terrain tiles not the a unit. In any of the targeted squares if someone happens to be there then proceed with your hit calculations. Obviously, this will be VERY bad for civilians in the "beaten zone". That ought to be good enough to do what you want.

Edited by StellarRat

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It's what machine guns do. They really carve up the landscape.

It can only work if reloading is a major factor and your ammo evaporates like whisky on St.Patrick's day.

And at short range, where the range/damage reduction wouldn't count?

"It" would need one helluvalot of armour to shrug off half a belt of 7.62mm ammo.

Most things would turn into hamburger.

But... then you might end up with an empty and slow to reload weapon quite close to the friends of the unlucky target.

I guess I just don't see the possibility of having to reload as a massive drawback to firing that many MG rounds into a target in a single turn.

Especially when most troops are lucky to get more than a couple of shots off in the same turn.

Reloading time is a bit of a non issue in a turn based game for me.

At worst it means you have to keep your head down for a turn.

If that gives you two turns of obliterating everything in sight it seems like a small price to pay.

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OK, some useful suggestions. First thing to say is I don't want to disrupt the existing combat model too much. Therefore I don't want to change weapon ranges based on shot mode, nor do I want to add two burst fire modes (semi and full auto).

To be honest, I would rather have a single shot mode and a full auto mode than a single shot mode and a burst fire mode. The reason is that burst fire is much like a single shot, whereas full auto has an entirely different role. Therefore when I refer to "burst fire" I actually mean "full auto".

A template based system like suggested in my original post would be a pain in the ass to implement. Requires lots of extra graphics and the like, so I'd prefer to do something else if we can come up with a plausible alternative.

I quite like the idea that burst fire has the same AP cost for the first bullet as an unaimed single shot, and then additional bullets have a fixed AP cost (which can vary per weapon) to fire. Burst fire would just consume APs until either the weapon runs out of bullets or the soldier runs out of APs. You don't have a lot of control over the length of the burst then, but implementing a control system for that would be a nightmare and would lean towards overcomplication.

For accuracy, you could then use the JA2 system where the first shot is at normal (unaimed) accuracy and the following ones rapidly decline in accuracy (eventually reaching a minimum percentage). Again, I guess the accuracy drop off per shot and minimum percentage for accuracy could be set individually per weapon.

For suppression, you can then have bullet-based suppression for burst fire. You'd just use the basic single-shot suppression value, but then each bullet fired might add a fixed number to that.

I think that could work. In graphics terms, I think we'd have to get rid of the individual bullets and just show the impact points. Although quite how that would translate into lasers and plasmas, I don't really know..

Naturally, we may have to increase reload costs if they're not enough of a barrier to repeated auto fire - although there's also the danger of running out of ammo too. But the beauty of the system is that later in the game when you have to manufacture your own ammo, auto fire would hurt you in the bank balance too :)

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I personally dislike the idea of using the JA2 accuracy system... but at least you aren't going to show every bullet while using that system which would be my biggest gripe.

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For accuracy, you could then use the JA2 system where the first shot is at normal (unaimed) accuracy and the following ones rapidly decline in accuracy (eventually reaching a minimum percentage). Again, I guess the accuracy drop off per shot and minimum percentage for accuracy could be set individually per weapon.

My apologies that this will be a bit technical, but I wanted to simply make a recommendation regarding how to do this. Rather than having a fixed decrease in the accuracy with each shot I would recommend using a multiplier that uses values less than 1. This would require at least 1 additional parameter for each weapon (I think the existing parameter of recoil would be fine). Essentially the first shot in a burst would have the same value as whatever the normal accuracy would be for a single shot, the second shot's accuracy would be the first shot's accuracy times the multiplier, the third shot's accuracy would be the second shot's accuracy times the multiplier, etc. Algebraically this could be set up so that each shot will have the following accuracy:

Base Accuracy * Recoil ^ (Shot# - 1),

where Base Accuracy is the set accuracy of the burst, Recoil is the value of the recoil parameter, and Shot# is which shot in the burst it is.

There are two good reasons for using this method. The first is that the drops in accuracy are not linear. What you will see if you plot the accuracy points, is that the first to second shot creates the largest drop in accuracy (which is true with burst fire). The rate in the decrease in accuracy becomes slower over time which could be thought of as the soldier compensating somewhat for the burst. Secondly, this method asymptotes at 0 which means that it will never become 0 no matter how many shots are fired which prevents a number of errors from occurring.

There are 2 things I would think about adding to this simple method of burst fire accuracy. The first would be a additive modifier to the recoil parameter (that can max at 1) when the firing unit has a piece of cover that they could prop the weapon on when firing at the target. This could be a uniform addition across weapons or you could set it up as a parameter for individual weapons. You may want to do the latter so that propping up carbines is not as beneficial as it is for a rifle. The second thing I would think about adding would be a minimum burst accuracy value for each weapon so that the asymptote is higher. The easiest way of implementing this would be to have it check the accuracy of each shot and if it is below the minimum value, it is set equal to it. An alternative would be to change the earlier equation to:

((Base Accuracy - Min. Accuracy) * Recoil ^ (Shot# - 1)) + Min. Accuracy

The downside to this method is that Min. Accuracy and Recoil do not function independently so the rate of accuracy decreasing per shot would be a little more difficult to look at.

Edited by Quartermaster
Rewording

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To be honest, I would rather have a single shot mode and a full auto mode than a single shot mode and a burst fire mode. The reason is that burst fire is much like a single shot, whereas full auto has an entirely different role. Therefore when I refer to "burst fire" I actually mean "full auto".

I was struggling to find a place for limited shot bursts to be honest, full auto alone seems like a better solution.

Burst fire would just consume APs until either the weapon runs out of bullets or the soldier runs out of APs. You don't have a lot of control over the length of the burst then, but implementing a control system for that would be a nightmare and would lean towards overcomplication.

You can already do something to control the full auto burst length by using your reserve AP slider.

Setting a higher AP reserve would allow a smaller burst.

You could then drop the reserve down lower and have a bit of free AP to change position or get into cover.

Alternatively you could set the AP reserve to the highest and move around freely until you hit that limit and then use what is left for a burst.

Graphically speaking if you just turned the delay between shots right down you would just see a stream of bullets/laser beams that was a couple of seconds long wouldn't you?

That doesn't seem too bad.

Or are you concerned about the bullet tracking camera?

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Naturally, we may have to increase reload costs if they're not enough of a barrier to repeated auto fire - although there's also the danger of running out of ammo too. But the beauty of the system is that later in the game when you have to manufacture your own ammo, auto fire would hurt you in the bank balance too :)
I don't think that is going to limit the M-60 much. It has 300 round belt (in game) if I remember right. The barrel would start to overheat before you ran out of ammo. Perhaps a better solution would be to make excessive use of long bursts damage, temporarily disable, or even destroy the weapon. I'm still not convinced that this whole "full auto" thing really adds much to the game though. Also, what about weapons that can only fire three round bursts by design? Like the M-16. It sounds like you are going to take away this option. Edited by StellarRat

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The machine gun has a 50 round belt in game.

The amount of turns that would last would be entirely dependant on the cost per additional round

You might be firing 5 or 25 in a turn depending on how the numbers balance.

What other weapons in the game can only fire three rounds by design?

Personally I would swap the assault rifle model over to the AK to stop people worrying about M-16 fire modes.

Don't know how obvious that would be regarding the ground combat models though, might not be workable.

Quick solution would be to suggest in the Xenoapedia that the Xenonauts X-16 assault rifle is a modified M-16 with fully automatic capability.

Actually adding an option to the weapons_gc to limit the maximum number of shots that could be fired on full auto would be nice.

You could leave some weapons with burst fire then or modders could add some in later.

You could use the existing shotcount with any number above 0 limiting the weapon to that many shots.

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The machine gun has a 50 round belt in game.

The amount of turns that would last would be entirely dependant on the cost per additional round

You might be firing 5 or 25 in a turn depending on how the numbers balance.

What other weapons in the game can only fire three rounds by design?

Personally I would swap the assault rifle model over to the AK to stop people worrying about M-16 fire modes.

Don't know how obvious that would be regarding the ground combat models though, might not be workable.

Quick solution would be to suggest in the Xenoapedia that the Xenonauts X-16 assault rifle is a modified M-16 with fully automatic capability.

Actually adding an option to the weapons_gc to limit the maximum number of shots that could be fired on full auto would be nice.

You could leave some weapons with burst fire then or modders could add some in later.

You could use the existing shotcount with any number above 0 limiting the weapon to that many shots.

Any of your solutions would work for me. The older M-16s did have full auto capability and, of course, the AK is not limited. I agree that being able to limit if you want is a good idea (specially since it's already in the game.) I could have sworn the clip for the M-60 said 300 rounds. Maybe I'm crazy.

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You can already do something to control the full auto burst length by using your reserve AP slider.

Setting a higher AP reserve would allow a smaller burst.

You could then drop the reserve down lower and have a bit of free AP to change position or get into cover.

Alternatively you could set the AP reserve to the highest and move around freely until you hit that limit and then use what is left for a burst.

If you use the reserve AP silder to limit the burst (which I think is a great idea) you would need to change it so you could reserve any number between 0 and the maximum AP instead of just e.g. 16, 19, 22, 35 (which would differ between weapons as well).

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The current implementation would make reserving AP for bursts difficult, especially for machine guns as they have no single shot for the reserve to calculate from.

You could allow the reserve to use an analogue slider.

If you do though the current buttons should still correspond to the current settings.

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Burst fire would be more controllable if you simply set it up so that they are different burst modes that just fire different numbers of rounds. Simply if you have multiple modes you can set it up so that the dynamics are the same (first shot = single round + 5 for each additional). If you allow two forms of burst (short and long) it should work about the same as letting them fire a specific number of rounds and be easy to control.

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Might be easier to use the right click command if you wanted to set different bursts.

In single shot mode it increases AP cost and accuracy as now.

In bursy mode right click increases number of rounds fired and AP cost.

Similar function in that the shot will cost more AP but be more effective.

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I'm not adding multiple types of burst fire. There's already up to 4 different types of single shot and I'm not complicating it further, hence auto fire just consuming all available AP or all available ammo, whichever happens first.

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