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Thread: On Promotion

  1. #1

    On Promotion

    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?

  2. #2
    Oh my. That's a lot of text.

    I'm sorry.

  3. #3
    WishfullThinker Gorlom's Avatar
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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!
    Last edited by Gorlom; 06-18-2012 at 06:05.

  4. #4
    Sergeant
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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.

  5. #5
    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.

  6. #6
    Moderator Gauddlike's Avatar
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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.
    Devil's Advocate and forum moderator

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Oktober View Post
    <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?
    Quote Originally Posted by Gauddlike View Post
    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.
    Last edited by LeftyRighty; 06-18-2012 at 11:08.

  8. #8
    Xeno Lover IceVamp's Avatar
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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.

    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.
    I would if I could, but I can't, so I won't.

  9. #9
    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.

  10. #10
    Forum Moderator Max_Caine's Avatar
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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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