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About Picard

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    A Java programmer and a die-hard X-Com fan
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    Programming, gaming
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    Java software engineer
  1. Picard

    Improve Aircraft Ranges

    What game are we talking about - original UFO: Defence or Xenonauts? Just to give everyone an idea of the aircraft combat range in the game, some of the today's finest aircraft are still well short of distances displayed in the game. F-35A has a combat radius of ~1100 km and Sukhoi FGFA is projected to have it ranges of 1500 km, and these are aircraft that are at least 30 years ahead of F-16 and Mig-31 in aircraft engineering. So, I agree on both points, though I have to admit that I can't see how could we possibly implement realistic aircraft ranges without adding too much complexity and/or micromanagement (the same goes for, e.g. aircraft cost). We would need to have many more bases and many more aircraft - and that number would explode when globalising the war. To manage it all would radically change the strategic part of the game and I am sure majority of players wouldn't like it. Current aircraft range is really over-the-top, but I say - keep it but don't increase it any further. If needed, introduce additional game concepts (such as fuel tank pylons, airbases or something else) - perhaps these could enable alien invasion to be more brutal, especially initially, thus adding to feeling of helplessness and overpoweredness?
  2. <p><p>No, <em>you</em> make it so! <img src="<fileStore.core_Emoticons>/emoticons/tongue.png" alt=":P" srcset="<fileStore.core_Emoticons>/emoticons/tongue@2x.png 2x" width="20" height="20" /></p></p>

  3. <p><p>Make it so!</p></p>

  4. Picard

    Improve Aircraft Ranges

    Several things, as I see it, mostly doing with increasing the number of possible gameplay approaches and increasing replayability: 1) it introduces possible new strategic and tactical decisions - e.g., do I let that UFO go, or do I continue the pursuit *knowing* I'll pay a higher price for refuelling? Do I patrol the area longer, scouting for landed UFO's (possibly rewarding me for persistence with a chance for ground assault) or do I RTB immediately? Do I rely on my own research to increase range of my fighters and general presence in the area (slow, but perhaps more efficient in the long run) or do I rely on the nation's existing infrastructure to bolster up my presence? If an area flares up in UFO activity, how do I react to it - do I have the ability be instantly present in the area even though I have no X-COM base in the area or do I have to build a base, possibly losing the spoils of war (and/or region!)? 2) it introduces resource distribution challenges - do I allocate resources to my own research or do I save credits for airbase upgrades? If this airbase is under attack simultaneously with e.g. a terror site, do I assist in repelling it (possibly garnering artifacts AND nation funding) or do I ignore it? Which one? Do I have the resources to hit them both? 3) it adds an increased level of realism thus (arguably) increasing suspension of disbelief and game enjoyment - it is partially true that you could abstract away the whole system by simply increasing the range of interceptors, but then again, you could play the whole game on an cleverly laid-out Excel spreadsheet dealing with a numbers and statistics. I think we can agree on which one is more enjoyable. I am certain one could provide a much more exhaustive list of added benefits. I believe this goals could be achieved without complicating the game experience at all. Tricks are to make these additions non-invasive to the player (that is - we don't force the player to take any particular action; the choices are there, it's the player which has to make the decisions) and to make them transparent, i.e., the player should have ideally no (or at least, very minimal) micromanagement when using the system. The first one is esentially a question of game balance (each possible route the player selects is equally rewarding and there exists a possiblity to mix approaches as desired); the second one is the question of system design (we should keep the new system as simple and powerful). Again, all these points are up for discussion so let's explore whether something like this even could fit in - if it could, in what form? If it couldn't, why not? What can we do deepen the strategic component of the game instead?
  5. Picard

    Improve Aircraft Ranges

    Well, in theory they could, but there are a couple of things that would render such scenario unfeasible: 1) consider that we could only refuel at these airports and couldn't re-arm. These would be regular military installations at best without access to state-of-the-art weaponry such as Avalanche missile. While we could realistically throw in Sidewinder/Vulcan cannon re-arming at such bases, the further player advances along the tech tree, the less chance that player will do anything else but refuel at these stations. Additionally, one should factor in the time needed to refuel AND rearm the plane. It would take something in the range of an hour or two at minimum to perform these and by that time, we could lose the radar lock on the UFO, so perhaps we could present a this choice to the player? 2) be advised that each landing should incur a cost (secret emergency landings don't come cheap and complicate things at the airports, aircraft fuel cost is also an issue). This cost could be considerably higher than regular aircraft maintenance at the base and would hurt financially player to do so (especially at the beginning, when the need for these airports is the greatest). So, generally, it would be possible to do so, but it would strategically (and fiscally) be quite inadvisable. These emergency landings are exactly that - an emergency and should not be taken lightly. Also, if your air superiority score skyrockets in the area, if I were an alien, that airport would be one of my prime targets. They couldn't be destroyed but could be put out of commission for a period of time - and prices at an airport would go up after a successful UFO attack. A thought just cropped up - since these airports would diminish their usefulness as the player expands and progresses, we could consider "upgrading" them with, e.g. expanded weapon supplies (more advanced weaponry?), progressive lowering of the time needed to refit the aircraft, airport infrastructure upgrades (airport maintans a longer radar lock to the UFO, permitting a longer refitting, if needed), etc. That way, the airports would still retain some of their importance at the later stages of the game. We could actually get a whole different strategic dimension with these stationary objects - without invading at the core X-Com experience or adding tedious micromanagement. A player could totally ignore these objects, if he wishes or currently lacks the resources to use them. Agreed, drop pods could be an alternative, but I had the idea of using "famous" military targets as potential X-COM additional airports - for example, Vanderberg AFB in USA, Kapustin Yar in Russia.... That way, we don't have to build anything. The airbases are there - period. Since X-COM is a top-notch supra-national military organisation with excellent ties to all militaries of the Funding Nations, wouldn't it be logical for Nations to give use of their prime military installations to X-COM? Also, I was thinking these bases would be rare. How rare - is a matter of balance, but I certainly wouldn't litter the map with them. Perhaps 1 per continent if the continent is small (Europe, Australia); 2 for a medium-sized continent (Americas, Africa); 3 for Asia? Perhaps randomize locations from a list of available locations so as to promote game replayablity? I agree with you - I am not proposing to convert Xenonauts to TOAW. But adding non-invasive strategic options and enriching the game.....why not?
  6. Picard

    Improve Aircraft Ranges

    OMG Sorry, I had no idea that there was such a similar account. I apologise for the confusion - if necessary, I'll create another account. I am not sure what you mean - I just proposed a sketch of what I regard as a possible middle-of-the-road measure to introduce a level of realism and depth to air combat without introducing *any* player micromanagement (original UFO was always shallow in this regard, though it may have been on purpose). I dislike blatantly beefing up aircraft ranges, air tankers would potentially complicate things too much (would we have to defend them? If so, how? Who would manage their operations, costs and their flight routes, etc....), so I just took the ideas proposed and slightly thought them out. Note that my propositions actually incur almost zero player management - they just slightly alter the way strategic game behaves. If you have any resentment toward these ideas, I'd like to talk about them.....it could be they're disastrous for the game, I just don't see them as such.
  7. Picard

    Improve Aircraft Ranges

    Hello, everyone - first time poster here, just wanted to offer my 2 cents on the whole aircraft range discussion. First of all - I think it is quite important to strive in maintaining a plausible, realistic figures for all game entities; it's arguably one of the things that made X-COM initially so great: it makes suspension of disbelief so much easier. Now, seeing range interception envelopes such as they are, it is obvious they're overestimated: a typical F-16 combat radius is about 550 km (300 nmi), and judging from the interception range from the Xenonauts youtube interview, the combat range of F-17 is about 2500 km (1450 nmi - why is Xenopaedia entry saying their range is 15 000 km?). I'd agree with Chris - I think that's the maximum range increase we should even consider. The original X-Com interceptor range is absurdly large even with KC-135 tankers factored in and I think that's not the proper way to deal with design/balancing issues, so let me throw in a few of my ideas: 1) I really liked the idea of replacing weapons hardpoints with fuel tanks - range/firepower tradeoff seems like a logical choice. Also, why not simply having two additional hardpoints for fuel tanks only? When equipped, the aircraft would suffer a penalty to manuverability (increased chance to hit by UFO) and/or combat performance (increased chance to miss with on-board weapons)? The tanks could (optionally?) be automatically jettisoned (with penalties removed) when reaching 50% of maximum range, so no need to micromanage this from player standpoint. Also, jettisoning tanks would incur a price penalty (the tanks cost money). 2) I don't fancy the idea of initially giving the player X bases (where X > 1). There should be an atmosphere of helplessness, isolation, inferiority, dread and general unpreparedness against the alien threat - I think additional X-COM bases on the very beginning would undermine that feeling. Instead, let's consider the following game mechanic: additional national stationary assets. I think someone mentioned something similar to this, so let me just build upon the idea. Essentially, the idea is to strategically place refuelling airports on the globe and a few static anti-aircraft defences on the globe (a good example is the famed Moscow Air Defence, a.k.a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Purpose_Command). The refuelling airports would serve to extend the range of the interceptors. A player would have the option of using these assets during interception so that, e.g. a low-fueled F-17 in a UFO chase would land on the airpoirt, lose 10-15 mins of interception time and then, fully refueled, carry on the interception. The player couldn't control/relocate the airports, the airports would always be available and refuelling would incur a small fee to monthly budget. Algorithm for interceptors shouldn't be too difficult to implement: if interceptor is in the air, each time tick check what's the nearest airport for in the remaining range. If an X-COM base is in range, mark it for use and continue flight until fuel reaches point of no return. If not, mark the airport. If multiple airports are in range use the one that gives maximum interception range (admittedly, there are a few possible chokepoints in design, but generally this could be the pseudocode). Regarding static anti-aircraft defences, these areas would serve to either make the smaller UFOs avoid these areas or make the bigger UFOs slow down a bit. They could also serve to augument the interceptors - if air combat is occuring inside anti-aircraft defences' weapons range, they could assist the interceptors (by providing an additional damage per time tick or we could factor in an additional damage percentage to each successful hit by interceptor weapons).