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  1. No workshop? But what about my glorious comrade? He build anything I want!
  2. Even though it was a long time ago and I wasn't the only one saying so, I feel partly responsible for poisoning the well against the LMG. I'd like to make a case against swinging the nerf bat at the thing, or any weapon - for gameplay reasons, not realism ones. I understand the extremely legitimate concern about any single weapon becoming too good to make any other weapons worth using in the eyes of the majority of players. It sucks to feel like you've put a lot of work into a game only to find out that it's unbalanced somehow and that is causing everyone to play it the same way, discarding all the options which are present because of the many long hours you've put into development. But on the other end of this pendulum's trajectory is the terrible realm of killing the favorite tactic of a player or group of players because it appears too dominant. Not wanting high-volume-of-fire playstyles to snuff out high-precision playstyles is all good and well, but when ammunition limitations shrink and shrink until you have machine guns that get two bursts out before going dry, I think the desire to balance the game against a desire in players to embrace a playstyle of spraying large quantities of ammunition about the battlefield is reaching the point where it's in direct opposition to the simple necessity of retaining the all-important fun-factor of allowing the players to play a game the way they want to play it. There are going to be people who want to spend thousands of bullets for every single enemy they down. There are also going to be players who want to scout all sneaky-like and pick off enemies one ridiculously precise long-range shot at a time. Still further there will be players who lose their marbles and decide that they'd really like to carpet bomb a map with an abundance of grenades for no particular reason. You rhetorically brought up the possibility of weapons having infinite ammunition in Xenonauts, Chris, but that was already a reality in the original X-Com, was it not? Even though you could recover plasma weapons and turn them against the aliens, and they were more powerful than the lasers you could produce, some players swore by their lasers and others swore by their plasma. Why? Because even though plasma was way more powerful than lasers, and lasers boasted infinite ammo, you could get away with using either option. They were supposed to be a clear tier-2 to tier-3 progression, but the way it played out was just a matter of personal preference. The great debate of lasers vs plasma in the old games never really resolved, and that's one of the things that made it great. You had multiple options, and the choice came down to a matter of preference for your playstyle - do you like high performance or simplified logistics? Do you worry more about running out of ammo or failing to drop the muton on the same turn in which you spotted him? Bear in mind that there are always going to be players whose greatest desire is to spray shots all over the place until the sounds of alien screams stop coming from the direction of the as-yet-unsettled dust cloud in the distance, and taking this option away from them because you don't want to give the shaft to players who like their carefully aimed shots just achieves the effect of spoiling the fun of the former group of players for the benefit of the latter. I would appeal to you to worry less about tweaking the various weapon classes in relation to each other and more about ensuring that, whichever weapon or tactic the player chooses, as long as it's not mind-bogglingly silly, that they will be able to make it work and have their fun the way they want to have it. Some players will want to run with squads whose weapon loadouts are quite diverse to facilitate clever combined arms tactics, while others may want to be as uniform as possible to keep things easily manageable. Maybe a player will decide he wants to forget about doing his fighting outside of point blank range, and to that end he wants to kit up his soldiers with shotguns and a big old bag-of-holding full of smoke grenades. Why not? Some of the things players will come up with will be quite silly - it is a game, after all - but as long as nothing terribly game-breaking is going on, and I mean HEAT-rocket-sniper levels of crazy, why work to take those toys away from the players? We may never agree on where exactly to draw the line, but if we must err in one direction or another, maybe it's best to err in the direction of letting everyone have the toy of their particular preference. Is there an especially compelling reason that players shouldn't be able to load up on high volume of fire weapons and spray their murderous little hearts out if that's the way they want to manage their firefights? As long as other playstyles work as well, I don't see why not.
  3. EDIT: It looks like reflex modifiers already do what I'd been babbling about in terms of protecting shotgun users from reaction fire. I seem to be afflicted with a serious case of the dumb this morning. As for the answer to armor penetration in shotguns, just say they shoot flechettes. Simple as that. No reason to have in-your-face weapons that plink off of armor.
  4. Would like to see tooltips produce accurate, up-to-date information. The tooltips we get for hovering over equipment still display information from back when I used to be active on the feature suggestions board. These numbers are no longer accurate - even the mag sizes on the weapons are listed differently in the tooltips than they appear in soldier inventory on the very same screen. Alternatively, or additionally, I'd like to see detailed information in entries for equipment in the xenopedia. A general summary of an entire tier of newly researched weapons is all well and good, but some of us go into a 'pedia for crunch as much as for fluff. I want to see a breakdown of the numbers. EDIT: Looks like the heavy weapon mechanics have been done away with, so no sense bellyaching about that. Guess that means my only issue is with the tooltips and 'pedia being updated to give accurate and current information to the player.
  5. Yeah, I tried kneeling for the cover bonus alone several times, but I'm not quite feeling it. I still prefer to cut LOS completely or pop smoke when going for safety measures. I've had a problem with kneeling in that it will X out the crosshairs of a shot if you try to aim at an enemy through smoke while you are kneeling, denying the shot completely as if LOS were cut by a solid object like UFO walls. Standing shots don't seem to have this problem shooting through smoke. I'm not particularly interested in getting a significant cover bonus out of kneeling. I'm much more interested in its effects on accuracy and reactions. I'd mainly like to see kneeling serve as the mobility limitation for precision rifles and machine guns, rather than having to not move from where you ended on your last turn. Not being able to move at all, rather than having to set up and stabilize by kneeling, puts a pretty hard limit on the contributions those weapons can bring to the fights in Xenonauts. Especially since your mission is almost always Search and Destroy; your objective demands that you stay on the move and press into the enemy, while their tactics involve a lot of ducking and weaving away from you. Weapons which must be stationary - especially when those weapons have reductions to their reaction shooting ability - aren't really able to contribute to that kind of fight in a meaningful way. At the very least, one should be able to start their turn behind hard LOS-breaking cover, and take one step out of it to commit to a shot without taking a huge penalty to their accuracy. Having kneeling as the mobility limitation mechanic would allow players to do that. I personally would love to see a more TU-expensive kneel - maybe 8 or 10 TUs - that provided a significant boost to accuracy and reaction fire capability (or simply negated the negative effects of moving/standing while firing a heavy weapon), even if it had no cover bonus associated with it.
  6. One thing I've noticed about the AI is that it sometimes makes VERY aggressive moves if there is an opening that will allow them to make a kill, even if it is suicidal. I've had aliens run through my own smokescreens to stand directly next to one of my soldiers and dump a burst of plasma into them at point blank range. It's a little suspicious how they beeline straight for their targets when doing that. I strongly agree with the sentiments in this thread about aliens proactively defending their ship. I should think scattered aliens would want to rally and make their way to defensive positions in an effort to keep my soldiers away. Sometimes they make clever flanking maneuvers that I have to scramble to respond to, but most of the time they hunker down behind cover and take potshots until I roll over them one-by-one with superior numbers.
  7. As a side note, I'm pleased to see the cost-free laser weapon batteries, but still finding the ammunition per mag to be pretty rough. I'm still having trouble deciding whether I'm more flabbergasted by the idea of an assault rifle with a mag size of nine or a machine gun with a mag size of fifteen. That's less than half the mag size for the comparable ballistic weapons; even the xenopedia promises at least half the number of shots! Would it be possible to bump those mag sizes back up to 50% or maybe 66% compared to ballistics? Nine and Fifteen round mags are not very conducive to firing bursts. And on a final note, would it be cost/labor-prohibitive to allow machine guns the option to fire three round bursts or five round bursts? There are times when a shorter burst is more appropriate, or a player might want to conserve the shots in his machine guns, especially if some of them are going to be carrying fifteen rounds max at a time.
  8. Last time, I posted my analysis of the various weapon classes compared to each other in an earlier build and concluded that machine guns were a much better choice than any of the other weapons regardless of the situation. Now, I find that the changes made since then have elevated the usefulness of the lighter move-and-shoot weapons while drastically diminishing the competitiveness of the precision rifle and machine gun classes of weapons to the point of making them nearly unusable by comparison. I think there is an easy fix for this problem: eliminate the penalty for moving before firing these weapons, increase the time unit consumption of the kneel action, and increase the difference in accuracy between kneeling and standing. Currently, the kneel button is a sad little thing that doesn't see use in demanding situations where the player can't afford to waste time units. The benefits of kneeling are just too small to make it an action worth doing, even with the tiny expenditure of four time units it costs. In my personal experience, kneeling is always a frivolous decision - something I only ever do because I want to feel all tactical and watch my soldiers take cool-looking kneeling shots. It's never a hard choice; either I have the spare time units to BS around, or I don't, or I don't feel that clicking the kneel button is worth the physical effort. I think kneeling should be a bigger deal. A higher time unit cost and a stronger difference in accuracy compared to standing would complicate the cost-benefit analysis of choosing between the risk of stabilizing a soldier to take a more accurate shot or simply firing quickly and ducking behind cover or skipping the shooting to begin with. I also feel that the kneel function would be a better feature for implementing the mobility limitation on precision rifles and machine guns. Enemies like to try to move out of the player's firing lines before the end of their turn, which is completely reasonable and unfortunately makes the prospect of using any weapon which you cannot fire after repositioning in the same turn a very unreasonable one. I think it would be much more fitting if these weapons benefited more greatly from kneeling (or suffered more greatly from standing) than the move-and-shoot weapons, rather than binding them to a location from which the enemy will always make every effort to deny a clear line of fire. These changes would allow players to use precision rifles and machine guns to their full and desired effect, and would prevent the AI from being able to deny the effectiveness of these weapons tremendously by making tiny movements that should only require a tiny repositioning movement to counter.
  9. One last word I want to mention is with regard to the first generation laser weapons themselves. The problem is really quite simple - the machine gun outperforms them! Even the powerful laser carbine doesn't hit as hard shot-for-shot as the machine gun does, and given the cost of producing the laser weapons, one would expect a significant improvement over ballistics to justify the trouble required of the player to obtain them. As it stands, it really comes down to paying a whole lot and not really getting anything back in the way of improved combat performance in a practical, appreciable manner. Sadly, the really-freakin'-cool-looking laser weapons just aren't worth the effort at all if you compare them to ballistic weapons looking at the numbers alone.
  10. Now we get to assault rifles and what is a pretty significant issue - at least to me - that they, and most of the other weapons, suffer from. Advertised as versatile do-it-all weapons with a lack of stopping power, assault rifles do seem to fit this bill pretty accurately. However, what I did not expect was their astonishingly low volume of fire. X-Com veterans are likely to be as uncomfortable with the assault rifle's tradeoff of volume of fire for accuracy as they are comfortable with the machine gun's adherence to the old spray-and-pray characteristics. It's nice to see tight groups from three round bursts, but it's quite shocking to check the time unit costs and realize that you'll never be able to fire two bursts in a single turn. It seems strange that the bulky, heavy machine guns allow you to do what you used to do - move a very short distance and fire two bursts in the same turn - while the supposedly move-and-shoot oriented assault rifles gobble up so many time units with one burst that this is not tenable with them. Assault rifles are fine as they are in all respects except for this time unit issue. They feel cumbersome and clunky, because time units are the measure of exactly how much you can do in a turn, and a gun that can do precious little firing is a gun that, whatever way you slice it, feels like a "slow" gun to the player, and is very much not what is expected from an assault rifle. I believe that a good rule of thumb for the capabilities of an assault rifle in a game like this should allow for enough time units to fire three bursts or five relatively well aimed shots in a single turn from a single operative, provided that operative does not move at all in that turn. In practice, this results in players having enough time units to perform some very Tau-like move-shoot-move actions as a standard combat tactic, or mix it up with more movement in the place of shooting, or if positioned very well in advance, take advantage of the extra opportunity to fire many shots in a single turn. I also feel that other weapons should have their time unit costs rebalanced to be in line with this model - if the cost of shooting prohibits you from moving at all before or after doing so, the result tends to be an uncomfortably risky or annoyingly indecisive as gameplay bogs down into lots of static firing positions rather than the kind of mobile combat expected in a game where the most frequent mission is "search and destroy." Precision rifles are last on the list of weapons I feel need some sort of change. They are apparently designed as sniping tools for use against long distance targets from static positions. They suffer from a similar problem as the other weapons currently, that problem being "how is that different from machine guns?" The practical difference right now is that the precision rifles trade the dangerous hail of civilian-slaying bullets for a reduced surety of obtaining a kill - they still punish movement pretty heavily. However, I feel that the roles of the precision rifle and the machine gun are only half-solved by changes to make the machine gun more about reaction fire. The precision rifle doesn't seem like it's meant to be an area denial tool like the machine gun, but rather a weapon meant specifically for offense - rooting a stubborn enemy out of a position that would be too risky to assault. This is a simpler fix than anything else - just bump up the stopping power of the individual shots from a precision rifle, and don't slam it with a penalty for moving before shooting in the same turn. Even if the round used is similar or identical to that used in a machine gun, the wielder of a precision rifle is likely to take much more careful aim directed at an enemy's vitals, resulting in much more significant damage being dealt by a hit from the weapon. One shot really ought to mean one kill with this thing, so that the machine gun does not outperform it in its own role.
  11. Pistols, the sadly neglected sidearms, are sadly neglected for reasons that might have something to do with those shields not being present, but I think there is something else that holds them back from seeing wider spread use: they simply don't function as sidearms, due to the inventory system. A while ago, we addressed this issue with grenades. Grenades were too cumbersome to use by swapping them out with a primary weapon before throwing, and the inventory system has been altered to allow them to be thrown from the belt. I feel that this same fix can also solve the problems of the pistol. It is a weapon intended to be used as a sidearm - an emergency backup weapon for self defense in a situation where there is no time for a more sophisticated response and the primary weapon in an operative's hands is either empty or unsuitable, as is the case with the rocket launcher. Being able to fire the pistol from the belt in the same manner as the grenade would bring this sidearm into its own as an emergency defense mechanism properly, and as action-movie-esque it seems to have a soldier firing a pistol with one hand while holding his rocket launcher in the other, it's not too far fetched - he only needs one arm to hold up the launcher he's not aiming or firing while he plugs away desperately with his pistol, which will go straight back to his belt when he's done with the business of self defense. The shotgun/carbine weapons are advertised as being effective close range weapons which are not accurate at longer distances. In practice, I find that these weapons behave more or less as either a precision rifle or an assault rifle with poor accuracy beyond a predictable distance - not a compelling reason to take these weapons along when their longer-range counterparts exist. I have an idea for a way to make these weapons useful in a manner which would make them indeed very distinct, shining in the close-range role they're meant for, and it's an idea similar to my thought on the machine gun - influencing reactions. This time, instead of improved reactions for themselves, I think that a certain resistance to enemy reaction fire could be granted to the carrier of a shotgun or carbine or submachinegun. These weapons, designed for assault troops in very close quarters situations, would be seen as very useful in this regard if a player could regularly count on a soldier equipped with one of these weapons to consistently step into view of an enemy, generally by stepping into a confined space garrisoned by enemies, and fire two shots or two bursts before provoking any reaction fire. This would give these soldiers a distinct advantage in close quarters combat where it is most relevant - assaulting a confined space - and it would do so in a way that would make it a very obvious choice for the player to use them this way as opposed to simply filling the same role with a different weapon somehow.
  12. Now that I've gotten enough playtime in, I feel I have a pretty good handle on the roles played by the weapons in the game's current build - enough of one to kick up another thread about them at least. Like in X-Com, I expected to quickly file down my equipment loadout to a uniformly effective one. Unexpectedly, this has resulted in the machine gun, and not the assault rifle, taking position as the standard weapon in my xenonauts forces, after giving most of the weapons a series of combat tests. My impression is that Xenonauts is intended to discourage uniform loadouts or at least encourage varied ones, so I'll try to help in that regard with a summary analysis of my experience with the various weapons, including their shortcomings and my reasons for removing them from use as well as my suggestions for bringing them into competition with the machine gun. First, I'll detail the machine gun itself, as that is the weapon which eventually made my uniform-loadout cut. The long and short of it is that the machine gun delivers to the Xenonauts player everything he was used to in X-Com. The machine gun brings back the hallmark of the usefulness of a high volume of fire, even when paired with an almost laughably wide cone of fire. It provides a very familiar feel to the X-Com vet when compared with the other weapon classes, fitting the old playstyle like a glove and doing so very effectively. It is a simple matter to overcome the weight disadvantage with this weapon, as one or two missions carrying it will give a soldier the necessary increase in strength to wield it in further missions without suffering any encumbrance. From then on, it's basically just a nice big rifle with hard-hitting bullets that can be relied on to fire at least one, and often two five-round bursts from a single operative in a single turn. With each bullet hitting harder than any other weapon save for the rocket launcher (including laser weapons!), the machine gun is more capable of one-shot kills than its competitors, and the large bursts make it highly improbable that at least one such shot will not land, and more likely than other weapons that multiple shots will hit as well. The only real disadvantage is the wild inaccuracy, which makes it much more difficult to safely fire this weapon when civilians or friendly operatives are anywhere near the line of fire, but again, this is a problem that any X-Com veteran will be very familiar with and he has no problem overcoming this issue with proper spacing and getting a good feel for the deadly cone of fire. Because of its combination of acceptable accuracy, high stopping power, and high volume of fire, this weapon is actually better able to serve as the de facto assault rifle than the actual assault rifle is. Unfortunately, this is not what the weapon was designed for. It seems to me that the machine gun in Xenonauts was supposed to be an excellent overwatch tool - something deployed in a location that would provide area denial to allow for a player to execute fire-maneuver tactics with a concept of suppressive fire in play. I have one simple idea for making this role come into the machine gun and its class of weapons - a significant boost to the reaction fire ability of an operative wielding it. In all other respects I feel that the machine gun has been very well designed and its inaccuracy as a fire-on-the-move weapon would be a more than suitable drawback if the other weapon classes were to pick up their own slack. If the player could reliably put a machine gun on a soldier knowing that he could make that soldier shut down an area to enemy movement, he would certainly use it in this role. A second idea for achieving this would be to allow machine gun users to significantly increase their range of sight in a small cone ahead of them when they crouch, but only for the purposes of reaction fire - no map reveal and no ability to take reaction shots at enemies moving in areas that are still covered by the fog of war. This would allow players to put their machine gunners in somewhat rearward overwatch positions to deny a meaningful area of the map to enemy movement. I have thoughts and ideas about many of the other weapons as they are currently implemented, but I'll get into those in the next few posts so as not to be too overwhelming in my first. I expect this to get pretty lengthy pretty quickly.
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