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Thread: 1970s cold war country blocks

  1. #1

    1970s cold war country blocks

    I really like Xenonauts' 1970s cold war setting. In the turn based combat, this really comes through (and will be helped by the coming inclusion of Soviet achitecture). In the geoscape though, the country blocks feel much more like 2010 than 1970. The boundaries for Europe for example, combine NATO's UK and France with the Warsaw Pack's Romania and East Germany. IndoChina combines Western leaning Japan, with soviet leaning mongolia and Non-Aligned Indonesia.

    Chris, I know you said in the past that you intend to retouch the countries in the geoscape map (such as include the philipines, sort out some land sea mask issues). I think it would make a big difference to the feel of the game if the country blocks could be revisited at that time.

    What I would like to suggest is blocks which match power blocks that existed at that time. The easiest solution is to ensure NATO and Warsaw Pack blocks fit as they were in the 1970s - and leave the other blocks almost as they are. I think it would be fun (better) if we could take it further and include blocks based around political alignment at that time, including Non-Aligned Member countries. These new blocks could be based around a Nato block; Nato leaning block(s); WARSAW Pact block; USSR leaning block(s); Non-Aligned Members (NAM) blocks and Neutral countries.

    • NATO: USA, Canada, many countries in Western Europe, Turkey
    • NATO leaning group(s): Could be group geographically: Oceanania, Japan, South Africa, South American and African countries with US backed strong man governments
    • WARSAW Pact: Boundaries of WARSAW Pact countries
    • USSR leaning block(s): Could be grouped geographically: Could include countries like Mongolia, China, Cuba, South American and African countries with socialist backed strong man goverments.
    • Non-Aligned Members (NAM): India, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Indonesia, Ghana. Many African and South American countries could logically be placed within this block (based on historical alignment).
    • Neutral: Swiss, Sweden, Ireland, Iran, amoungst others.

    Benifits: A geoscape which does not immediately clash with the cold war setting. There has been lots of great discussion about possible Geopolitical changes. I think this one change would go along way to help set this scene (our imaginations will do the rest).

    1. Geographically seperated blocks. Yugoslavia, India and Ghana don't exactly share borders. So, unless care is taken, players may loose the sense that it is important to locate bases in certain parts to sure up block support. I think actually there is a lot that can be done to mitigate this risk by coming up with blocks which cluster nations together. Outside the core blocks (NATO, USSR and core NAM countries) almost all the other nations could be justifiably placed in one of a couple of blocks (e.g. Cuba could count as a NAM member, but more flavour might be had in placing it in a USSR leaning block, with other similar Central/South American nations). The most difficult blocks would be core-NAM (including Yugoslavia with south Asian or African nations). To some extent, I think we can get away with some mixing (beyond making the map maker's task more difficult) - while protecting most of the NAM nations - I would understand NAM member countries being upset if they percieved that Xenonauts weren't protecting fellow member Yugoslavia. As long as most of the land area for the various blocks is clustered together, I think the players can coupe with the occasional bad event that happens in the small country isolated from the main area (the small area would mean that the risk of lossing the block with you base in is small, even though the occassional event may happen in the isolated outlying country that is uncovered). In short, clustering similar countries between NATO, USSR or NAM aligned blocks should mean that we get geographically clustered blocks for most of the world (I imagine we're aiming for about 10 blocks in total).
    2. Neutral block - to include or leave out? Neutral block countries could justify their inclusion as a block due to the financial weight of their members, but I think it would be almost impossible to think of ways to geographically cluster them (as some are completely surrounded by NATO and/or Warsaw Pact countries (which can't be changed without completely jarring). While it might be interesting to have one block, whose finacial support couldn't be guarenteed by appropriate base placement - if this was thought to be a deal breaker they could always be merged into NATO or Warsaw pack neighbouring blocks.

    I'd be interested to hear what you, and others, think Chris? I think there is a little bit of work that would need to be done in coming up with suitable clusters (building 1 or more NAM blocks; clustering other countries into NATO leaning or USSR leaning blocks - trying to make them as geographically clustered as possible. The map would also need to be redone). If this was a go-er - I'm happy to help out with the map region drawing. I currently do not know enough about 1970s alignments in C. and S. America and Africa - so I'd need to do a little research, but I am sure that there is enough expertise on the news group that we could come up with something workable. What do you think?

  2. #2
    +1 to this. 1979 geopolitical setting != the map of Risk

    Now, the map will probably end up looking like the map did for Evil Genius ...


    ... but that's just fine with me.

    If we don't do something like this, the 1979 setting is merely an excuse to create sprites of old equipment. Beyond that, the date --- as of the alpha release, of course --- means as much as a funny set of numbers where a year should be.

    Regarding the concerns of incidental countries or territories, like French Guyana in S. America and the like:

    It'd be easy to explain that in the state of crisis and emergency that the smaller countries, territories and colonies were merely annexed by the nearest significant power and are thus part of the block.
    Last edited by TheUbiquitous; 08-13-2012 at 01:17.
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  3. #3
    Commander Jean-Luc's Avatar
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    Not a bad idea tbh though the geographical disparity of some of these blocks in a problem as you say. It makes it hard or even impossible to focus on defending a specific region if they're so intermingled.

    The neutral counties should probably be joined to existing blocks though that would leave us with 5 funding regions. I suppose NATO could be separated into N. America and "Nato Members/Allies". China could be a separate entity as well.

    I don't like how Central America is a separate funding region atm. Just putting that out there.
    Last edited by Jean-Luc; 08-13-2012 at 05:49.
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  4. #4
    Moderator Gauddlike's Avatar
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    It would all depend on the back story.
    At the moment we don't know if the section of history between the Iceland incident and the start of the invasion played out the same way as our history.
    North America may have decided it was better off going it alone with lighter connections to Europe, NATO may not be a strong body of opposition to the alien threat but a European Union may have formed to compensate.
    The USSR may have decided to pull out of some areas that were a drain on their resources or gave no defensive benefit against an attack from above.
    That could let you take a few areas from the funding blocs that would otherwise be too large and increase the size of the smaller ones to make base placement more of an option and less likely that everyone will start in the middle of the USSR or NA.

    More than a half dozen regions is better, too many small areas would make it practically impossible to defend an area though.
    If an enemy successfully lands a mission in the Vatican City funding nation that you don't manage to deal with then how long would you have to wait for another mission there to try and win back support?
    Last edited by Gauddlike; 08-13-2012 at 08:33.
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  5. #5
    Beloved Leader Chris's Avatar
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    There's difficulties having "blocks" that aren't all in one place. It's mostly to do with the event system and assigning faction damage from alien activity correctly. But yes, we probably will retouch the map so the Soviet boundaries in Europe are more accurate during beta (that's the most glaring error, alongside the missing islands).

    For bigger regions - I just think it works better when a radar base can protect the majority of a funding block. Otherwise you can have a lot of operations in an area and still end up with negative funding from them because you're not giving them good coverage. In game terms it seems better to have two regions instead, one where you'd have great relations and another that'd be swarming with alien bases.
    Chris England - Xenonauts Project Lead

  6. #6
    Agree strongly with the principle, less so with having the territories of each funding groups spread all over the map. Splitting them into sub-groups (so that, say, NATO Europe is one group while NATO North America is another) should fix this nicely, though.

  7. #7
    Commander thothkins's Avatar
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    I had been leaning more towards using the map as a way of monitoring the effects of the alien invasion on an expanding cold war. How far this can be taken depends upon what’s made available in the final game, but here’s some ideas.
    So firstly, you divide the map into it’s constituent countries.

    Nice link to large map here

    Taking the key countries from that, you could look at the political map of the same period and combine it. Here’s one from 1980:-

    This gives you six funding areas, NATO, US Allies, Non-aligned Countries, Soviet Allies, Countries aligned with the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact.

    I prefer the OPs six to these. To give this a bit more flexibility, I preferred thinking of each country depending on the influence that each superpower had on it. Say a rating of between 1 to 5. While there’s a fair bit I’m culling together to update this for 1979, as of the mid 1970s, this arguably gives you something along the lines of this for Europe west and East:-

    Country Geographical Bloc Infrastructure USA Influence USSR Influence
    Austria Western Europe 4 0 0
    Bulgaria Eastern Europe 3 0 3
    Czechoslovakia Eastern Europe 3 0 3
    Denmark Western Europe 3 3 0
    East Germany Eastern Europe 3 0 3
    France Western Europe 3 3 1
    United Kingdom Western Europe 5 4 0
    West Germany Western Europe 4 5 1

    I still feel that geographical areas are very important, so I felt that the scoring for each regional area could still be valid, with the political map overlaid on it in the funding screens. However I would have added Eastern Europe as a geographical region to better reflect the cold war.

    As for funding, each country in a geographical region would contribute a percentage to the scoring for that area, based on the Infrastructure figure given in the table above (which is a cumulation of development, economy, military power etc). This figure would also change depending on how effective alien attacks were against it, or perhaps simply how much it had been infiltrated.

    This funding would be modified along the lines of:-

    Country score =
    (Alien activity over country+ (over political bloc/5)+ (over geographical region/7)+ (over globe/10)) -
    (Xnauts activity over country+ (over political bloc/5)+ (over geographical region/7)+ (over globe/10))
    If over X then funding increases 10% and if above Y then increases 20%. Likewise if score is below A then funding falls 10% and if below B then it falls 20%.

    As the above stands, the only reasons to have the political information are to have a nice cold war map (not to be sniffed at) and to provide the basis for more realistic scoring.

    However, it can be taken a lot further if:-

    - Certain events can be added into the game at key research points. Example – You research your first alien inspired interceptor. Middle Eastern economies collapse as new energy source revealed, and funding decreases.

    -Alien scoring on each country and the type of missions can sway the country towards one bloc or another. Example Mrs Thatcher come to power in 1979. Upon alien bombing attack, the UK agrees to deployment of Pershing II sooner than it did, altering the influence score above for the UK towards the US.

    -As the time line progresses, certain events happen. Example – Iran/Iraq war occurring in sep 1980 (if not sooner in the face of an alien attack).

    A lot of this feeds back into the Geopolitical thread, bit hopefully the above can also prompt a few more ideas. I’ve been tinkering around with this for a week or two so there’s more to come (sorry), but I think it’s fun to play around with something beyond just a prop.

    I think it's something that opens up the interest of the game for slightly different audience. Sort of in the way the original combines the resource management with the turn based strategy. Can't be a bad thing.
    "...not having to believe in a thing to be interested in it and not having to explain a thing to appreciate the wonder of it."

  8. #8
    Thank for your feedback Chris. What I took from your email is that you're open to redrawing the blocks, especially over Europe and that you are keen that areas are not fragmented. Given that you are going to think about this, I thought I would kick it off with some ideas.

    I think there are lots of ways we could come up with maps which fit this. I came up with this (I coloured in a blank map, blocks justified below):


    It shows:
    1. NATO North America (blue, USA and Canada)
    2. NATO Europe (blue with horizontal black) (with all European neutral countries (Austria, Finland, Ireland, the Swiss and Sweden) wrapped into NATO).
    3. U.S.S.R (red).
    4. Warsaw Pact countries (brown, not including U.S.S.R): may want to combine this into a larger Warsaw Pack block with the U.S.S.R
    5. Pacific Rim (pink): Australia, New Zealand, Papa New Guinea, Philipeans, Borneo, Taiwan, S. Korea and Japan. All countries with Western/capatilist leanings during this period.
    6. East Asia (orange): China, Mongolia, Ex-French IndoChina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). Grouping countries with a left leaning governments.
    7. (Non-Aligned Members) South Asia (Green): Containing many principle members of the Non-Alignment Movement. Including Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Afganistan, Syria, Lebonam, Iraq, Malaysia. Historically almost all of this grouping were prominant Non-Aligned Members (NAMs) even if they quarelled amongst themselves (e.g. India and Pakistan) so this grouping seems to make sense.
    8. South America (Blue, horizontal bars): With the exception of British and French Guiana and Suranam, other South American countries were all controlled by military juntas or regimes (most fighting marxist rebels). It seems appropriate to group them.
    9. (Non-Aligned Members) central Americas (yellow): Historically played quite different roles (e.g. Cuba, Mexico and French Guyana) but many were prominant in the Non-Aligned Movement (including both Mexico and Cuba, despite differences in political outlook). Seems sensible to group Central American states, Carribbean and northern S. American states into a large NAM block.

      Africa I found difficult - as there was a real mixed bag.
    10. Southern and Central/East Africa (and Arabian Peninsular) (pink, horizontal bars): contains many countries with very different histories. Most of these countries had Western backed goverments (e.g. White minority led Rhodesia and South Africa, US backed DRC and Zaire, English speaking central African countries (Uganda, Kenya). The challenges are countries like Angola (civil war between US and Zaire backed UNITA against USSR and Cuban backed MPLA) and worse yet Mozambique (who supported anti-apatheid movements) was leading a shadow war with South Africa and what was then Rhodesia. I've left Mozambique and Madagascar (socialist-marxist republic) out of this group - but if leaving groups broken up like this is not possible they could be combined (using TheUbiqutous' argument for regional convegence in the face of Alien threats).
    11. (Non-Aligned Members) North and West Africa (green, horizontal bars): Contains prominent Non-Aligned members (Ghana and Egypt) and most of this region have been active members of NAM. BTW: I would love to see Yugoslavia added to this grouping as it was one of 4 founding members of the NAM movement (but resigned to it being foldered into Eastern Europe/Warsaw Pack).

    This gives us 11 country blocks, which (outside Africa) I think reflect mostly the alignment in the late 1970s (10 if eastern Europe and the USSR are merged into a greater Warsaw Pact grouping). They broadly keep similar sized groupings to Chris' current map (East Asia becomes smaller). With exception of the large blocks (USSR), most blocks can be covered by a centrally placed base (including the Pacific Rim - using the Philipines as a base).

    What do you think? I am sure others have knowledge of regional 1970s composition. How would your map look? I'd be interested to see what others came up with.

    EDIT: It took me so long to put this together that I didn't see thothkins' post. Nice to see another map idea. I like a lot of thothkins Geopolitical mod ideas (recomment reading - follow his link). I think I see getting a map out in the default xenonauts build to be key, whether this is extended in modding or not
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by flyingdisc; 08-13-2012 at 23:17. Reason: ninja'ed by thothkins

  9. #9
    For bigger regions - I just think it works better when a radar base can protect the majority of a funding block. Otherwise you can have a lot of operations in an area and still end up with negative funding from them because you're not giving them good coverage. In game terms it seems better to have two regions instead, one where you'd have great relations and another that'd be swarming with alien bases.
    Well ... precisely. I read this as a benefit to the challenge of a game. It gives an additional, and more tense, reason, to hurry up and build the next base. (But then you're worried about spreading yourself too thin, but then you're losing funding if you don't expand fast ... there's really something here.)

    If nothing else, why the hell would you bother to cover Australia or New Zealand any time soon? With the map as it is, the winning strategy is not too much different than Risk: Leave Australia for last.

    Having dispersed allies --- but not to too great of an extreme, is a huge gameplay benefit. There really must be this block:

    US and Canada
    Western Europe
    S. Africa

    Really want to make things interesting? To add some serious period-appropriate flavor to the blocks, this should be the highest-contributing block. Covering NATO, fast, would become a very, very high priority. (As a side benefit, considering locations, this would help covering the rest of the world.)

    (Followed by the USSR, followed by China/Japan or OPEC, followed by the Third World.)
    Alpha release 14, unless otherwise mentioned.

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  10. #10
    Moderator Gauddlike's Avatar
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    That block would take at least three bases to cover.
    You would also likely need to get those bases in place in at least two locations pretty quickly or you could start to lose funding even though you are doing everything right and reacting to every threat.
    That kind of design doesn't strike me as a good idea to be honest.

    I am sat in western Europe destroying every alien that comes within reach and holding games to please the population and they decide to stop funding me because Australia gets bombed.
    Ok so I manage to get enough cash together for a second base in Australia and then lose funding altogether because South Africa and North America take a few hits.
    In risk you might leave Australia until last but you wouldn't expect to lose the whole of North America to your enemy if they took Australia.

    If you were to use the majority of the wealthy countries in two or three huge power blocks then why not just split into two or three as no one will ever bother protecting anywhere else unless they want a big challenge, or actually live in those areas and want a base on their house.
    Reducing the number of funding areas will make the game harder and have less interest on the geoscape.
    East v West funding blocks would be very much in line with the setting, it limits your choice of useful starting location quite significantly though.
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