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  1. #1
    Beloved Leader Chris's Avatar
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    Suppression Mechanics

    One of the fundamental problems with the combat in X-Com and in Xenonauts is with the shooting - all it does is wound or kill units. This may sound trite, but it is an issue in that most weapons can fire in both single shot mode or burst fire mode.

    In the current incarnation, assuming that you have enough APs to take a burst shot, you should always do that. It provides the highest average damage per AP spent. This doesn't really give you much in the way of tactical options. It's just simple maths as to what fire mode gives the best bang for your APs.

    It was suggested a month or two ago that we look at the suppression system from JA1.13 for inspiration. Naturally I've been far too busy to actually do that, but the idea of suppression has grown on me enormously over the last few weeks as it provides an obvious solution to the problem above. With suppression implemented, we can have burst fire causing lots of suppression but not actually doing that much damage, while single aimed shots are much more effective at causing damage but don't cause anywhere near as much suppression.

    It also means we can change the battlefield roles of some weapons a bit - for example, machineguns and the Ferret .50cal. In both cases it's been difficult to balance these to be effective but not overpowered. Giving them very high suppression but perhaps no more actual damage than the sniper rifles would make them useful support weapons but not overpowered in effectiveness.

    Suppression would be something that is built up with each shot the affects the unit, draining the unit's APs first from his reserves (used for reaction fire) and then from the next turn. With enough units shooting at the same target, it would be entirely possible to pin them in place.

    Initially I was going to suggest we tied this into morale, but on reflection I don't think that's a good idea. I don't think a soldier who is pinned in position by enemy fire is directly more frightened than one that is not, rather they are keeping their heads down to avoid getting shot. Perhaps we can add a small morale penalty for getting suppressed or pinned, but I don't think the suppression score should use the morale value.

    Rather, I think each unit should have a Suppression score that is based on his Bravery stat, giving it a common root with Morale but a shared value. This will start at the soldier's Bravery value, which is anything from 50 upwards (as the lowest starting value for any soldier attribute is 50).

    Each weapon fire mode will have a "suppression damage" value, and when a soldier fires a weapon at a target (irrespective of whether they hit it) the suppression damage will be applied to the target's Suppression score. This is affected by armour as usual, so if the unit has powerful armour it will not be suppressed by firing weak weapons at it.

    Once Suppression reaches 0, any extra supression damage recieved is first deducted from the unit's AP reserves for the current turn (down to 0) and then from the AP in the following terms (again down to 0). Further suppression is wasted. Maybe we'll have a symbol appearing above the head of the unit to show it has been suppressed?

    The Suppression score should regenerate a certain amount each turn, perhaps something like 20. That means three turns without being fired at would return any unit to their full Suppression "shield".

    Anyone got any thoughts, suggestions or improvements?
    Chris England - Xenonauts Project Lead
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    Moderator Gauddlike's Avatar
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    As I posted in another thread, some ideas I had when suppression was mentioned, not overly developed just ideas.

    Suppression should be influenced by bravery.
    Maybe use the bravery stat for suppression damage as you would use armour for normal damage calculations?
    Your courage is your armour.

    Suppression points change the colour of your AP bar from the bottom as they accumulate (like stun damage on the HP bar).
    As you enter that coloured part of your AP bar actions begin to take some extra AP to accomplish.
    Represents your trooper trying to keep his head down as the suppression begins to affect him but will always allow him to take some actions.

    When the AP bar is fully suppressed then the morale bar starts taking damage, again armoured by bravery.
    You have taken as much as you can and your nerve is finally starting to go.


    To apply a similar system to your idea Chris maybe you could have the suppression build up along the morale bar?
    It is a visual way to represent the build up (rather than degradation) of suppression on that unit.
    When it reaches the top it begins to affect the AP as you mentioned.
    That would also mean a trooper who was losing morale for whatever reason would be easier to suppress as he lost his nerve.
    Last edited by Gauddlike; 04-27-2012 at 23:39.
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    Xeno Lover IceVamp's Avatar
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    You'd have to find a way for suppression to work in an area, not just the unit you're targeting, so that a cluster of units being shot at will all be suppressed. This would be strange in an open area though. If you're being shot at in the open, you hit the deck and start returning fire. You wouldn't just lie there and wait to be hit. Maybe have a huge penalty to AP cost for movement, but not such a big one for shooting? I don't mean change the way it works, but so that when you are suppressed, it's less costly to return fire, than it is to actually move.

    @Gauddlike - I don't agree with the fact that if suppressed long enough you'll crack every time, all the time. If you have good cover, sure, you can't move, but you're not being hit either. Just wait for your boys to flank em and hope they don't have grenades.
    Last edited by IceVamp; 04-27-2012 at 23:47.
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    Steely-Eyed Bug Hunter Pinetree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceVamp View Post
    You'd have to find a way for suppression to work in an area, not just the unit you're targeting, so that a cluster of units being shot at will all be suppressed.
    I'm thinking the same thing, maybe if a unit is in a 2 square radius of a shot's terminus and 1 square either side of a shot's path.

  5. #5
    Xeno Lover IceVamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinetree View Post
    I'm thinking the same thing, maybe if a unit is in a 2 square radius of a shot's terminus and 1 square either side of a shot's path.
    I think it might be easier to check for units in x radius of the one you targeted. Though that would not suppress units far behind it that missing shots might also pass.
    I would if I could, but I can't, so I won't.

  6. #6
    Colonel Gazz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Suppression would be something that is built up with each shot the affects the unit, draining the unit's APs first from his reserves (used for reaction fire) and then from the next turn. With enough units shooting at the same target, it would be entirely possible to pin them in place.
    That's the one bit I don't like about the JA2 system. It's too mechanical, gradually paralyzing a unit.
    When someone's shooting at you while you're running away, would you slow down?

    Heavy suppression should have a chance to completely freak out a unit, often paralyzing it for a turn. Bravery and suppression level would influence that but it should be a random chance.
    Getting a message that an enemy is "completely suppressed", as can happen in JA2, so that you can safely stroll over and put a knife into his heart - that's way too gamey.

    Less brave soldiers (or aliens) should also be able to freak out / freeze when they are only a little suppressed. Random chance makes that possible.



    Each weapon fire mode will have a "suppression damage" value, and when a soldier fires a weapon at a target (irrespective of whether they hit it) the suppression damage will be applied to the target's Suppression score. This is affected by armour as usual, so if the unit has powerful armour it will not be suppressed by firing weak weapons at it.
    As gamey as that may be, the end result is pretty much on track.
    In a burst, the first round is aimed. The rest? Kind of...
    MG would (should! =) have longer bursts than AR so fewer bullets a likely to end up in the target while the sheer amount of bullets is a useful gauge of suppression.



    Once Suppression reaches 0, any extra supression damage recieved is first deducted from the unit's AP reserves for the current turn (down to 0) and then from the AP in the following terms (again down to 0). Further suppression is wasted. Maybe we'll have a symbol appearing above the head of the unit to show it has been suppressed?
    I wouldn't touch the target's AP.
    Reduce it's accuracy, sure.
    Being suppressed, you would still fire (largely) unaimed bursts into the general direction of the enemy, hoping to keep them at bay.
    You just don't stick your head out to aim carefully.

    A guaranteed paralysation of an enemy is way too exploitable. (as every JA2 v1.13 player has found out by now =)


    The Suppression score should regenerate a certain amount each turn, perhaps something like 20. That means three turns without being fired at would return any unit to their full Suppression "shield".
    That would be the best place for bravery to come into play.
    While being shot at with a machine gun, a human's obvious reaction would be to keep his head down.
    The difference would be that the brave one jumps up again once the salvo stops.

    Bravery = suppression shield regeneration.
    (terrible term but I can't think of a better one right now)

    Suppression could just overlay the bravery bar, like starting to colour it from the top down.
    Max bravery would still be visible (and used in calculations) but you could also see how much of it is currently "suppressed".


    Regeneration could be a fixed % value of Bravery.
    That way high bravery = higher total regen as well.

    Modifying the % value is also less jerky than working with absolutes.
    A chickenshit rookie isn't suddenly turning into the Hulk just because a sergeant is near. He might be 15% more brave...

  7. #7
    Beloved Leader Chris's Avatar
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    Yes, suppression should affect an area. Or at least, suppression from burst fire should. I'm thinking that we may redo the way "burst" fire works so it doesn't use individual bullets like the single shots do but rather has multiple shots hitting inside a fixed area, although exactly where and what they hit in the area is largely down to random chance. However, everything in the area would take the suppression damage.

    Machineguns would have a larger radius, and proportionately more hits to assign within that radius. That would make the machineguns very good at suppressing things and potentially devastating, but also pretty unreliable at consistently dealing damage. I think that would make auto fire a lot more awesome and fun than the current model. It'd also let us chew through ammo much more quickly, if a burst for an assault rifle was actually five bullets and a machinegun was throwing out more like fifteen in a burst. That means you might actually have to reload your guns at some point, and manage your ammo more effectively.

    Bravery setting the upper limit fo the suppression shield as well as the % regeneration each turn would make sense to me.

    I also sorta like the idea of units potentially freaking out under fire, but I am concerned it'd be adding another potentially confusing system into the mix when you already have that with morale. If there were small morale penalties for suppression, you can get the same effect without duplicating the system.

    I think the AP sapping idea is good, though, and I'm fairly set on that (at least until we try it in the game). I think it makes a good back-and-forth mechanic where you can choose to try and kill the enemy, or just try to keep his head down. It'll also allow us to implement things like flashbang grenades to make storming entrances a little less dangerous than it currently is.
    Chris England - Xenonauts Project Lead
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  8. #8
    Colonel Gazz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    It'd also let us chew through ammo much more quickly, if a burst for an assault rifle was actually five bullets and a machinegun was throwing out more like fifteen in a burst. That means you might actually have to reload your guns at some point, and manage your ammo more effectively.
    That is important all by itself.
    Machine guns are not overly heavy assault rifles. They eat ammo.
    They aren't built that heavily for accuracy but to withstand literal meltdown.


    I think the AP sapping idea is good, though, and I'm fairly set on that (at least until we try it in the game).
    I think it makes a good back-and-forth mechanic where you can choose to try and kill the enemy, or just try to keep his head down.
    I'd replace it with an accuracy reduction, maybe starting at half bravery / suppression and a max of 90% at full suppression.
    The max ACC reduction value could be reduced by the soldier's bravery.
    The veteran might only be suppressed down to 25% accuracy.

    You could achieve mostly safety by suppressing enemies but they could still run away or land a lucky hit.
    Guaranteed safety by paralysing them is lame.


    It'll also allow us to implement things like flashbang grenades to make storming entrances a little less dangerous than it currently is.
    Explosives like frags or flashbangs should be allowed to exceed "maximum" suppression and be the only means to achieve a guaranteed suppression / freeze.

    Their quantity / handling / range are far more limited than guns.
    A MG salvo might be loud but a grenade landing on the other side of your sandbag barrier makes your ears ring.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Yes, suppression should affect an area. Or at least, suppression from burst fire should. I'm thinking that we may redo the way "burst" fire works so it doesn't use individual bullets like the single shots do but rather has multiple shots hitting inside a fixed area, although exactly where and what they hit in the area is largely down to random chance. However, everything in the area would take the suppression damage.

    Machineguns would have a larger radius, and proportionately more hits to assign within that radius. That would make the machineguns very good at suppressing things and potentially devastating, but also pretty unreliable at consistently dealing damage. I think that would make auto fire a lot more awesome and fun than the current model. It'd also let us chew through ammo much more quickly, if a burst for an assault rifle was actually five bullets and a machinegun was throwing out more like fifteen in a burst. That means you might actually have to reload your guns at some point, and manage your ammo more effectively.

    Bravery setting the upper limit fo the suppression shield as well as the % regeneration each turn would make sense to me.
    First of all, fantastic. This will stop me having to mode the weapons file with every new incarnation just because I like the idea of chewing through ammo and the tactical level it adds.

    Regarding your earlier comment. Not sure targets should remain suppressed for a fixed period of time. Perhaps only for one turn passed the one in which they were suppressed. It might get quite frustrating to have your unit unable to do anything for so many turns.

    What about instead of paralysing or reducing AP like some others suggest you simply reduce the accuracy of the unit by an amount appropriate to their level of suppression and bravery. This negative accuracy modifier would increase each turn the unit remains under suppression. This would allow you to potentially move your unit out of the suppression zone but still make suppression a useful took for limiting combat effectiveness. In addition, it almost forces units out of cover. If you have a unit in cover under suppression, then each turn they stay there they are going to become less effective. This means they have to move - which means you could almost corridor enemy forces into kill-zones (a real-life used tactic).

    In theory you could move into a suppression zone if it is active, but would suffer the same firing accuracy penalty. This means you can use burst fire to deny areas of the map to enemy units or at-least mean that if they enter that spot then they are going to be largely ineffective. I'm thinking a MG gunner suppressing a corridor here.

    Most soldiers know to keep their head down when they are being shot at, but they also know that if they don't fire back in at-least token gesture they are very soon going to be flanked and get a grenade up their behinds.

    Soldiers under suppression should not be able to fire suppression however. This would stop 1v1 situations where both are under suppression and neither one can hit anything.

    Also, I think if you are talking about suppression areas, it should be more like a cone or corridor that extends to the front of the unit doing the firing. This stops enemy units simply walking forward two or three spaces and then opening fire completely unhindered.

  10. #10
    Xeno Lover IceVamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Belmakor View Post
    Also, I think if you are talking about suppression areas, it should be more like a cone or corridor that extends to the front of the unit doing the firing. This stops enemy units simply walking forward two or three spaces and then opening fire completely unhindered.
    This, indeed. The thing about not reducing AP or increasing costs of actions, is that suppressed units can simply walk away. Which would be kind of odd. "Yeah, I'm suppressed, but I'll be going over here now, so I'm not. Any more. Yeah." But on the other hand, they should be allowed to act. And it's not impossible to do a mad sprint from cover to cover while suppressed.. Just inadvisable.
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