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Thread: Recruiting soldiers and other personnel

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  1. #1
    Colonel Gazz's Avatar
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    Recruiting soldiers and other personnel

    Over the years, various games have featured quite diverse recruitment mechanisms and I have no problem with coming up with more of my own as well. =)

    I'm mostly talking about soldiers here but the same applies to scientists and engineers, assuming they have an individual skill level at all.



    1. Soldiers as wares

    This is the bare-bones minimalistic approach that was used in X-Com 1+2 and the Xenonauts alpha builds.
    You buy nondescript "Soldier, 7 pieces" for a constant price.

    The obvious advantage: it's easy to code and there is no real point in imposing a limit.
    It's not very exciting, though, and leads to the annoying "hire & fire" routine from X-Com where you would hire 20 soldiers and only keep the 2 whose stats didn't suck completely.

    So while basically the easiest system to operate for the player, it leads to a boring chore of weeding out the most useless candidates.
    No fun.



    2. The recruitment pool

    That is how X-Com Apocalypse, Jagged Alliance, UFO-ET, and many other games handled it.

    The player is offered a selection of personnel and can see their stats before hiring them.


    2a. The infinite pool

    The visible size of the pool is limited to maybe 10 soldiers. Whenever you recruit one, another soldier with random stats is added instantly.
    There is no advantage over 1..
    The player would just hire / fire until he gets all "good" soldiers, making all the effort spent in creating a more advanced recruiting system pointless.


    2b. The limited pool

    If the pool is only refilled / added to every day. (or whatever time frame)
    The player has to manage these limited (manpower) resources.
    Instead of buidling a small team with only the most excellent recruits, he might opt to use the training system and hire some of the clumsy recruits, too.

    That makes the game's training system more valuable and allows the player some leeway in his team-building strategy.
    Beats the drudgery of hire / fire any day.

  2. #2
    Colonel Gazz's Avatar
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    3. Game progression and usefulness of rookies

    One problem with all squad-level games is hiring recruits at an advanced stage of the game.
    They are just too useless.
    This leads to the feeling of having to reload when any of the experienced troopers snuffs it. The loss just hurts too much when it takes months of game time to train a replacement trooper to a "useful" level of skill.


    I suggest:

    At certain "milestones" in the game, an invisible starting skill bonus is applied to new recruits.
    The best place to put those would be research entries.
    You research Stainless Steel Kitchen Knives and all newly recruited soldiers get the list of bonus skill points that is defined with the research item.

    The official reasoning could be, that an organisation, that offer prestigeous (and damn cool!) weapons like Stainless Steel Kitchen Knives, is bound to attract recruits of a higher caliber.

    One advantage for the game would be, that fluff research items like "Alien Entertainment" can still have a small bonus for the player - and could even lead to a research item like "Advanced Evaluation Scan" which offers a sizable bonus.
    It is always difficult to model the "soft" sciences and this would offer a way to bring them into the game while being limited to a very specific bit of code... the one where the stats of new recruits are assigned.

    The end result is that losses in the late game still hurt but losing half a team to a lucky alien grenade is no longer a game ending event.
    You could always hire "improved" recruits that would take a few weeks tops to get up to speed.


    This can be combined with any recruitment system.

  3. #3
    Colonel Gazz's Avatar
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    4. Bottom of the barrel

    This is an alternative to the absolute limit on new recruits, replacing it with a system of dimnishing returns.

    Every day that passes, the "recruit quality" value increases by 1. It is capped at +5.
    Everytime you hire a recruit, RQ is reduced by 1. This is capped at -10.

    Whenever new recruits are hired or added to the pool, RQ is added to their stats.
    (all numbers used here are completely arbitrary, of course)

    If you fight successfully, with your soldiers keeping their heads down and covering each other, you won't be needing a lot of replacements.
    Word gets out and your outfit "starts attracting higher quality recruits".

    However, if you're in the habit of hiring 10 recruits every day as cannon fodder, you're only getting those that are too slow or stupid to find important reasons to be elsewhere.
    You end up scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  4. #4
    Colonel Gazz's Avatar
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    5. Using your staff

    One problem of all X-Com derivate games is that the player is very lonely, fighting a one-man war against the alien invasion.

    There is never any kind of staff to do anything useful for the player.
    Recruiting would offer a chance to... show a little support.

    In a basic implementation you'd have one personnel officer and could task him with finding better recruits for you.
    Let's say you can tell him to find "good" or "only the best" recruits.
    (that could be expanded to scientists / engineers if they have any personal stats at all)

    When given the order, he disappears from the screen and x days later (depending on the difficulty of the task), he returns with a number of good (or a smaller number of "best") recruits who have been added to the recruitment pool.

    That would help creating the impression that the player has a staff to begin with and that these people are actually doing something useful.
    It is important that this is not just some automatic feature but that the player "delegates" a task and has a degree of control over what he asks for.

    It would also be a nice touch if those soldiers would be recruited automatically without going through the pool. (provided there is sufficient cash)
    Probably at a higher price, too. Some kind of ahh... incentive. =)


    Effectively, this would supply a small number of good recruits at a very slow pace.
    Enough to counter the occasional death but not enough for human wave tactics with universal soldier types.

  5. #5
    Moderator Gauddlike's Avatar
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    You could also combine the two options.
    Have an infinite pool of raw recruits for when you just need to bulk out your numbers and a limited set of head hunted specialists.
    Have the specialists refreshed monthly and be more expensive.
    They could have better starting stats, already have some training or be higher ranks than rookie to make it worth thinking about.
    Nothing too overpowering though, just a head start.
    Devil's Advocate and forum moderator

  6. #6
    Colonel Gazz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gauddlike View Post
    You could also combine the two options.
    Have an infinite pool of raw recruits for when you just need to bulk out your numbers and a limited set of head hunted specialists.
    See 5. =)

    Two birds with one stone...

  7. #7
    Commander Sathra's Avatar
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    Not perfectly sure, but I think the one that was decided on was 2a (might have been 2b though). Rotating pool of a dozen or so, so you can see their stats. Hire one, and a new one gets loaded in (might have been a time delay though).

    Getting improved recruits was brought up alot though. Kept getting shot down. Don't particularly care myself, since its a good motivator to not get people killed all the time. I like the progression, and its not like Xenonauts will be quite like UFO:AfterX where new troopers halfway through the game are pretty much useless.
    Common wisdom proposes that at minimum 60% of the field of engagement should be rubble and/or on fire. As such the munitions budget has been increased 50%. Operations debriefs have shown that 15% is insufficient for current combat requirements.
    Ein jeder Engel ist schrecklich.

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    Colonel Gazz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sathra View Post
    Don't particularly care myself, since its a good motivator to not get people killed all the time. I like the progression, and its not like Xenonauts will be quite like UFO:AfterX where new troopers halfway through the game are pretty much useless.
    I just like to look at an issue from all sides, even if that means that some suggestions contradict each other.
    They are all just possibilities. =P

    We don't know much about the final pace of the game vs training / skillups.
    Such a progression adjustment would allow a bit more freedom to make the game more deadly without crippling any attempt of playing an Iron Man mode.



    Quote Originally Posted by Sathra View Post
    Edit: Why is my name red?
    Doood! You're a moderator.

  9. #9
    Commander Sathra's Avatar
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    That said though, having some kind of recruit stat boosting would be useful.

    Probably not the barrel one. It penalises you for bulking out new bases. The result of it would be suggesting that you hire a couple every few [time period].
    5 just sounds weird. I like the option 2 series due to being able to see what I'm getting. Very useful.

    Edit: Why is my name red?
    Common wisdom proposes that at minimum 60% of the field of engagement should be rubble and/or on fire. As such the munitions budget has been increased 50%. Operations debriefs have shown that 15% is insufficient for current combat requirements.
    Ein jeder Engel ist schrecklich.

  10. #10
    Commander Sathra's Avatar
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    Aye, I know.
    It would be helpful, especially if the alien weapons have more than one tier.

    One related question does come up. Chris mentioned waay back about scrapping the whole training idea due to it being, well, not that effective.
    Would be good to get an update on that.
    Common wisdom proposes that at minimum 60% of the field of engagement should be rubble and/or on fire. As such the munitions budget has been increased 50%. Operations debriefs have shown that 15% is insufficient for current combat requirements.
    Ein jeder Engel ist schrecklich.

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