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Thread: My suggestions list - Snipers, deployable weapons, hovercrafts, etc...

  1. #1
    Captain raziel1981's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Beer-Sheva, Israel

    My suggestions list - Snipers, deployable weapons, etc...

    Hey everyone, I get to do a lot of hours per week commuting via public transportation on and off work (almost 4 hours a day) which leaves me with plenty of time to think, and what's better to think of then suggestions for Xenonauts?

    So I started thinking on all the things that I felt being long absent in turn based tactical games (of course with the original x-com as the gold standard for this niche) and this is what I came up with (I'll do my best to categorize them into "types" of ideas):

    (1) Snipers:
    The sniper role has been done and redone hundreds of times in this kind of games with little consideration to how actual sniping team work in realistic combat scenarios and i don't necessarily mean ballistics as much as i mean tactics. For instance - real combat snipers often go in teams of 2 (at least I'm familiar with this feature from my own service in IDF) with one being the eyes and the other handling the rifle itself. This could generally enhance the sniper role in such a game if we supposedly manage to express this through a significant boost to the sniper accuracy if he's paired with a scout (not sure what's the exact term for it in English). This could lead to the aliens aspiring not just to hunt down your men but also attempt to protect tactical bottle necks such as stairways that lead to building roofs or other elevated positions as once your sniper team is properly positioned, you'd have a significant advantage over the aliens.

    In terms of the actual weaponry in game - the current sniper rifle in the alpha build is nice and all, but their are guns and then their ARE guns. For instance - the Baret M82 .5 caliber anti-material rifle is fine example of true stopping power in a form of a rifle.Another great example is the PGM Hecate II (their are probably more modern weapons of this class but I'm not familiar with them). Although these shouldn't be anywhere close (for the sake of holding the sci-fi thrill of the game) to a rail-gun sniper rifle or anything of the sort. But I am aware of an encounter irl where such a rifle stopped an APC
    dead in its tracks by a direct hit to its engine (through its armor).

    This actually brings another point that i find curious in such games - I can't recall any sci-fi tactical turn-based game with alien snipers in it. The necessity of a sniper role seems obvious to me from a tactical point of view. They can manipulate DNA, they mastered interstellar travel and can control our minds but they can't use their own snipers?! I mean c'mon... I was thinking of some kind of critter with a harpoon gun like the predator, possibly capable of partial invisibility and actually jumping a whole floor/s upwards/downwards. Alternatively some kind of extremely evolved race that can eject some form of projectile. In either case, I'd see no point why they'd use a loud plasma rifle or anything of that sort when they could use a near-silent hyper fast crossbow/harpoon gun of some sort or another.

    Regarding the camouflage idea - it could probably be countered with smoke grenades that would supposedly disrupt the optical illusion.

    (2) E=MC^2 can kill you...
    This is slightly inspired from mass effect but HEAVILY inspired from the actual Einstein equation - actual weaponry that could transmute mass into energy or energy into mass - using the environment to charge the weapon and then discharging it as a beam or a projectile at your forces. Perhaps directly using corpses of fallen civs/xenonauts/aliens...
    This would probably work much better as a bio-mass weapon of some kind, however it would be novel as a sci-fi concept (I can't say I t remember anyone who used such an idea) and would resonate well with the cold war era.
    Probably could also be used as a form of force field - use animate/inanimate objects around you to charge your forec field. I think this could be a technology tree of its own really...

    (3) By 1979 the EMP blast phenomenon should be well understood by scientists and it could be a real treat if at some point throughout the middle/later stages of the game you could use this. It would demand some significant balancing but just think of the possibilities this would open up in tactical terms as well as strategic terms for both sides (anyone ordered an EMP base defense?)

    (4) Mines - this is also a possibility that's been mostly ignored in X-COM and its clones. Specifically I'd love to see claymores, AP and AA mines, perhaps more guerrilla warfare oriented weapons (since this is basically an asymmetric war scenario), booby traps (trip wire set mines...)

    (5) Deploayable equipment - in general, their are many forms of weapons that can be deployed in an actual combat scenario starting from automated grenade launchers such as the SB LAG 40 (a potentially incredibly useful tactic to clear a building through its windows), a heavy (truly HEAVY) machine gun, starting from the ol' Gatling to a full-scale gun boat minigun. This could be mobilized in teams of 2 or 3 soldiers that each has a "pack" that is part of the device/weapon. Perhaps a similar mechanic should be considered for a field EMP weapon?
    Oh and there's of course the "Davy Crockett" (yeah i'm a Fallout fan as well). Be sure to wiki it

    (6) Alien artillery - generally I never seen in any of these games any kind of alien artillery. This seems ironic as it would be the first thing any invasion force of any kind would most likely deploy ( least after you finished with orbital bombardments). Suppose a terror site in the suburbs of a city - Xenonauts intelligence identified a construction/deployment site of an alien artillery platform of one kind or another. This must be stopped or else a capital city of one nation or another will be demolished which would probably be an immediate turning point for your relations with that country. Such a mission could also be rolled out in the form of an artillery site being built nearby one of your bases which you probably would want to stop...Kind of an alternative to the repetitive "attack on base" missions. Not every attack has to come as a direct grounded raid...

    Pretty much that's it. I'll be glad to hear everyone's opinions on these ideas.
    Last edited by raziel1981; 06-29-2012 at 14:53.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2012
    Some thoughts on your list.

    1.) While I do agree that someone carrying a Precision Rifle should get some sort of accuracy bonus if their target is being spotted, you have to be careful not to overpower this bonus. Precision Rifles are already pretty damn powerful with their high armor penetration ability. Perhaps a minor rework of the accuracy/damage formula could be done for the Precision Rifle where having a target "spotted" mitigates the damage and accuracy penalties from range. The risk of course is creating a touch of death unit, but again this can be prevented by having the spotting bonus only bring the shot back up to baseline, not exceeding it. For balance, you could have the spotter need to have binoculars equipped, limiting them to one hand weapons.

    2.) X-Com has always worked well with the Ballistic/Laser/Plasma progression, so adding a human super tech tier seems out of place , largely on the level that humanity is kinda supposed to be completely screwed if left to it's own abilities. It's only by adapting the xeno tech that humanity gains a snowballs chance of survival, and even if the bio force gun or whatever would be converted xeno tech, it smacks a bit to strongly of the blaster launcher, which is being dropped entirely. Just get into the heavy laser/plasma weapons, then reach out an touch somebody (at 7000 degrees F).

    That being said, it's been brought up a number of times that it would be cool to have technology trees that keep the Ballistic tier viable. The best suggestion I saw was rail guns or gyro jet weaponry, the idea being that Ballistic weapons are the armor piercers.

    3.) EMP grenades maybe, but even then I question it. Effectively they'd be anti-andron weapons, who are currently balanced against being suppressed and having a ton of armor. It's an idea, but I'm not sure about it.

    4.) Someone correct me if I'm mistaken, but didn't X-Com have proximity grenades? I remember them existing, but I don't think I ever used them. The issue is that mines are a defensive weapon, and most combats are assaults. Even in the case of base defense, you are inside the base itself, so I wouldn't think that mines inside my secret underground fortress would be a good idea.

    5.) Again, deployables are typically defensive weapons, so they would encounter the same issues as the mines. The extra firepower would be useful true, but having to break and redeploy every other round would probably make it not worth it.

    6.) In battlescape I'm pretty sure it's already been said that artillery support wouldn't be feasible. Not to mention hinging an entire nations funding support on one mission is pretty game breaking for a game like X-Com/Xenonauts, where a mission can go straight to hell in one turn. On the base defense side, if Xenonauts keeps with the form then we will probably see base shielding that helps to protect the base initially, reducing strength of the assault force.

  3. #3
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    May 2012
    The sniper thing is pretty much in already. The line of sight is limited, and a scout running up ahead can spot aliens, which the chap with the Precision Rifle can then take down. (which is an infinite boost in accuracy, since the sniper alone couldn't even see the alien).

    I don't see mines working ~at all in a game like Xenonauts, or X-COM. X-COM did have Proximity Grenades, which could be thrown in to place, but actual mines that you'd have to set down.. There really aren't many (any?) scenarios outside of base defence where the aliens are hunting you. It's always you hunting the aliens. As such, mines of any kind, IMO, are bit useless. They are mainly a defensive weapon, not an offensive one.

    Deployable weapons are pretty much.. vehicles. I can't see how a weapon that needs to be assembled and carried around by multiple soldiers is a good gameplay mechanic. The vehicles (I mean, they were named Heavy Weapons Platform in X-COM after all) fill that niche without being overtly complex about it.

    Also Alien Artillery has been around... Blaster Launcher in X-COM. Other than that, the terror missions already serve as a larger relations hit, without a need for placing artillery pieces (plus, one'd imagine a larger UFO could do that just as well without bothering to set stuff up).
    Last edited by Kaguya; 06-29-2012 at 15:48.

  4. #4
    Captain raziel1981's Avatar
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    Dudeman Jones -
    1) regarding the sniper in generally I agree with most what you said. However, I think that people tend to miss out on the possibility of alien snipers as well as far as balancing goes.

    2) I don't see why this has anything to do with the blaster technology, the idea I'm suggesting here is about basically using an inanimate/animate nearby object/alien/civ/etc as ammo for a weapon that then releases the absorbed "mass" into "energy". This doesn't have to end in a nuclear blast necessairly...I was more thinking of a high powered energy weapon.

    3) EMP grenades would be the most intuitive weapon to deal with the Androns imo.

    4) I guess that the mines idea is problematic to implement because of the nature of most of the missions in this kind of game.

    5) With the suppression mechanism implemented into the game, I'd think deployables is a must. I mean that is the main purpose of such weapons in actual warfare. Even in an offensive mission , it could become a real challenge to successfully deploy such a device in the right place on a map to gain the upper hand in a battle (especially when dealing with bigger maps).

    6) Like I said to Kaguya - I'm not meaning to use artilery in battle scape as a weapon but as a mission surrounding the neutralization of such a system. Its effects would be felt in geoscape or/and relations with other cities. I'm quite sure this could be a great new form of a terror site mission.

    Kaguya - The scout is most likely cannon fodder, and doesn't play the practical role of spotter.

    The idea of a deployable weapon is for it to be stationary without needing to use the extra space for a vehicle in the transport. Infantry is always better for the kind of missions we see in these games then vehicles.

    The blaster launcher was basically a one man-handled cruise missile which (as much as i hate to admit) a game breaker. The idea is not for an artillery gun but a real structure/vehicle that is being deployed as a strategic threat which you need to stop. The main point of this is creating variety in a new form of terror mission and yes it is likely that a battleship could probably do this just as well, but the whole point is suggesting ways to enhance the experience and not just stick to what has already been done time and time again.
    At least that's my take on such projects.

  5. #5
    Forum Moderator Max_Caine's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    EDIT: this is in response to the original post. It took me ages. and I was ninja'd!

    1) As it has been explained to me, at each weapon "tier", there is the functional equivalent of a pistol, a close-range carbine-like weapon, a general-purpose assault rifle-like weapon, and a sniper-like weapon. Because the tiers are arranged so that the next tier up does everything better than the last tier (but is more expensive than the previous tier in terms of materials, money and manpower), there will be no gun porn. No superheavy ballistic weapons. There is no point in doing so, when the next tier up offers an advantage in every aspect. UFO Aftershock did exactly what you suggested, and the consequence of that was a muddled research tree in which you were better off with earlier weapons that had been modified, than later higher-tech weaponry.

    As for the question of a spotter working in tandem with the sniper, the problem with that is the game style it encourages. If snipers were super accurate without having to invest considerable AP by parking someone next to them, then I could set up a killing zone and kite aliens into it. Boring. Or I would have my sniper and spotter toddle about, exploiting the accuracy boost I get from a spotter, edging in at maximum range and going pop, pop, pop. Also boring. How would you prevent players from exploiting a sniper/spotter combo?

    As to the final point about alien snipers? Wait for the beta.

    2) The weapon tiers have already been finalised. It is unlikely that Chris will include any new weapon tiers. He's already spent the money to have the artwork and the props done, and it has all been figured into the existing game. He'd need a really solid reason to include something new that would mean paying quite a few people to include it in the game.

    3) I remember EM weapons from Afterlight. A fat lot of good they were in that game. EM is a concept that is very likely to be understood and protected from by a higher tech society.

    4) There's a good reason you don't see mines in X-Com-a-likes - the play style doesn't permit it. Consider that in the current alpha, you have to go out and seek the enemy. They might spawn throughout the map, but they don't come after you - you come after them! Any defensive layer of mines you put down you'd most likely have to walk over to get to the next alien. Also consider that all the time you're faffing about putting down mines, the aliens are killing civillians, which will tank your score and make you look bad to your backers. Xenonauts encourages a blizkreig style of of warfare - in, out and shake it all about. The only time I've used mines were in base defences in X-Com, when the aliens were coming to me.

    For 5) see 4) and 2). It's a good idea, but unless you can kite aliens into range/LOS, it's pointless. You have to consider the game not from an army point of view, but from a game point of view. Aliens spawn throughout the map. So, when you see an alien, do you unpack then? And spend a turn faffing about while the alien zaps away. Or unpack before you see an alien, and then have to repack because the aliens have moved away and are killing civvies while you muck about? Possibly if it helps, consider an alien crash site or terror site as an unscripted terrorist attack. The aim of the aliens is to kill everything that moves. They aren't interested in holding ground. They aren't interested in taking buildings. If things get too hot, they'll just move away and keep on killing. You can loose a crash site mission if you take too long and let the aliens either escape or kill to many civvies.

    6) Another good idea - I thnk I've seen this one already when people were putting mission types and subtypes, but a good idea nonetheless. It would depend on how willing Chris would be to include new mission types and pay for the work to be done.

  6. #6
    Captain raziel1981's Avatar
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    1) Sniper combos could be countered by a variety of ways - teleportation, camoflouge, GITS-like invisibility, smoke screens (or any other gas that could disrupt Vis/IR optics)

    I'll skip straight to 4) So what about aliens putting mines for you? that could definitely add some tension to each mission. But yeah you make some strong points that I didn't think over myself.

    Basically to really enjoy the things I mentioned here there would have to be a "setup stage" to each mission but that would basically turn it into a whole other game. Still, one can always dream...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by raziel1981 View Post
    The idea of a deployable weapon is for it to be stationary without needing to use the extra space for a vehicle in the transport. Infantry is always better for the kind of missions we see in these games then vehicles.
    The gameplay is far too mobile for stationary weapons. The same thing as with mines, they'd only serve any real purpose in base defense. In normal crash site / terror mission gameplay, deployable weapons have little purpose. Besides, once the AI actually works, having 2-3 guys huddled over a single, stationary weapon isn't very smart... think alien grenades. And trying to protect it from being naded would require bunch of additional guys huddled around a stationary piece of equipment.

    All the while aliens are shooting civvies.

  8. #8
    Moderator Gauddlike's Avatar
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    For point 2 I would wait and see what the final human tech tier is.
    Chris hasn't announced it yet but it will be there, lurking beyond plasma weapons.

    Going back to the first one, I really hope the enemy does have snipers that work well.
    I reckon the main reason they don't appear in a lot of games is because of the balancing.
    Not only could it be difficult to get the AI to work as a sniper, without exploiting the game too much, but it would be incredibly frustrating to the player if they were actually good at being snipers.
    It is bad enough when you do something wrong and end up stood in front of an enemy on their turn but getting killed without even seeing them is worse.

    Having smoke as the defence against snipers means you would always have to use smoke whether you are moving or holding position.
    Otherwise you would only know the sniper was in the area after you had been hit in the head by something particularly dangerous, when it is probably too late.
    Last edited by Gauddlike; 06-29-2012 at 17:17.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaguya View Post
    The gameplay is far too mobile for stationary weapons. The same thing as with mines, they'd only serve any real purpose in base defense. In normal crash site / terror mission gameplay, deployable weapons have little purpose. Besides, once the AI actually works, having 2-3 guys huddled over a single, stationary weapon isn't very smart... think alien grenades. And trying to protect it from being naded would require bunch of additional guys huddled around a stationary piece of equipment.

    All the while aliens are shooting civvies.
    Agreed. The same goes for sniper teams who are just to unwieldy for the basic mission. If the OP is familiar with sniper teams as he claims he knows that usually a sniper fires once, then gets the hell out. He also is as far off as his weapon allows where Xenonauts missions are pretty much close quarter from one house to the next and keep pushing until the aliens are dead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raziel View Post
    In terms of the actual weaponry in game - the current sniper rifle in the alpha build is nice and all, but their are guns and then their ARE guns. For instance - the Baret M82 .5 caliber anti-material rifle is fine example of true stopping power in a form of a rifle.
    Well, you shot that argument down yourself. Pun intended.
    The Barret is an anti material rifle. Much too large and cumbersome for Xenonaut mission. It's being used against mines and hazardous stuff that patiently waits for people to drag along the rifle and work it into firing position. Hardly the right tool for Xenonaut teams.

  10. #10
    WishfullThinker Gorlom's Avatar
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    I don't understand your second point raziel. You are talking about nuclear energies, fission (or fusion) from common stable inanimate objects. The energy needed to to start any such reaction in the first place makes it pointless to convert mass into energy. You could just use the manageable energy you have at hand (to start the reaction) to shoot at the enemy. You would probably get less out then you put into it anyway.

    Besides you'd most likely not get the kind of energy you could use efficiently anyway. Most of it would be heat energy radiating in all directions, wouldn't it?

    I guess I could see a bomb launcher or something work on the E=MC2 principle but I'd think it would require fissionable material to be reasonable. Any stable material would just be excessive/redundant.

    Most of your ideas seem to be inspired by real life. I personally don't see or can't imagine how they would work as game mechanics. It's good that you have ideas but these particular ones seems a bit over ambitious and would probably have a negative impact on the enjoyment of people that does not consider realism to be equal to (or a satisfactory substitute for) fun.
    The threads on the soldier promotions/rank hierarchy are perfect examples of what I mean when you should consider realism vs fun. The people that have been in the military will most of the time want to have something that resembles how their military worked or at least how they experienced it, but for the rest of us (or some of us) it's an overly complicated system that makes no sense in the Xenonaut universe (considering no chain of command) and sucks all the fun out of it.

    My signature has links to more reading on the subject ^^
    Last edited by Gorlom; 06-29-2012 at 18:00.

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