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Drakon last won the day on January 31

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About Drakon

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  1. I have a very poor grasp of your current exact plan for the strategic implementation ... i do not quite understand why this would need to be true. From what you published of the background story, the aliens are well in contact with several powerful factions amongst the largest military organisations on the planet. They might want to use their own "UFO"s to travel for some missions they do not want those military organisations to know of, but wouldn't it by and large be more efficient to be transported by conventional human built craft? If that is the case, then basically not participating in the "air war" would mean no UFO crash sites, but if you invest into conventional military intelligence instead, there should still be lots of other missions cropping up where you can for instance crash a diplomatic meeting between alien leaders and political/military leaders of a certain country, raid a transport or storage site containing goods that were negotiated to be part of a trade or bust into a collaborate xeno/human science lab to wreck their research and steal their data. Assassination and VIP exfiltration missions should also stay mostly untouched. Or did the background story change and i missed it? If it is a limitation that is the result of a game design choice and accounted for in balancing, then i would not consider that a problem.
  2. Drakon

    Typical Xenonaut Mission

    You juxtapose a game being realistic and educating with engaging with it for recreation like those were opposing goals. By and large more realistic implementations are also more fun ones ... or game companies wouldn't pay so much to obtain realistic physic engines. While it's from a different genre, a friend of mine recently sent me a video on the importance of physics in superhero movie fights of all things (Link here)... A lot of people would be inclined to say that here the audience is already expected to accept individuals that spit on most laws of physics to begin with, so why bother? But if you look at a well implemented superhero fight comparing it to the "Batman versus Superman" scene at the end of this movie, i'd wager you'll have to agree that actually a realistic implementation of physical reaction does help in making the movie a better one. Same goes for games.
  3. I talked with several military personnel about this, and every single one of them agreed that at ranges above 20 meters chances to get some hits with a weapon on full auto that is not mounted decrease to nearly zero. Some of them had even done practical experiments where they had soldiers shoot at targets with single shot, burst and full auto and compared the hit rate. There was exactly one guy who stated that he sees value in full auto: not to hit anything, but to cause a distraction while another team tries to get in position elsewhere. If i heard the sound of a sniper rifle, i'd be very keen on wanting to stick to cover. If i heard full auto fire from an m16 or kalashnikov type rifle, i'd probably feel pretty safe in sticking my head out and returning fire. I actually happen to know of several cases where exactly that happened, and the individuum shooting single, targeted shots did not get injured while being engaged by several people using their weapons on full auto. I'm very ready to believe that weapons on full auto can be used to intimidate poorly or untrained personnel, but starting your strategic planning on the assumption "Our enemy sucks" seems ill advised to me.
  4. Drakon

    Typical Xenonaut Mission

    Doesn't increasing the realism of the game intrinsically add to the game by educating players, and not doing so ends up causing incorrect beliefs to spread and stick amongst people? I'd go a step further and ask whether deviating from reality adds anything positive to the game, and if not, advise to make things as realistically as possible without a significant increase in cost.
  5. Drakon

    Typical Xenonaut Mission

    While I agree with that, i do think that if it can be avoided, it is not a good idea to just push everything on "Oh well, it's that way because of plot.". If a realistic, reasonable explanation can be found within a non-excessive amount of time, then i do think it can be expected of the writers to do so. I actually like that idea A LOT. For most places around the globe, reaching them by plane and then car is reasonable within a day, even though it is very understandable why the operatives will be dead tired after a few missions. Even declaring that operatives just need two days for a mission wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea: it will necessiate the player to employ several different teams, which is something that Chris wrote he wants anyways. Of course a number of military installations are deliberately placed in remote locations, so that anyone attempting to approach by car can be more easily detected ... and if things got hot and a military chopper starts looking for you, getting away by normal car becomes impossible if you can't shake pursuit in a nearby city. Another thing is that "concealable weapons" makes it VERY difficult to get to the mission zone in apropriate body armour. You might get through customs with it fine, but it'll make it fairly easy for the aliens to determine the area your base is located in. From what i understood the time span of the game would have to be extended drastically for the idea to work, so that the player could smuggle equipment and personal to and from an operation zone.
  6. Correct, and if you show me particles that have a 100% reflection rate in real life practical conditions, i'll see if you can't get a nobel prize. Given how much energy is transmitted with a weaponized laser that can noticeably damage an andron which has an outer shell made of metal, even a 0.1% absorption rate would be enough to vaporize the snow-flake like material mean used in such a "smoke bomb". So let's say the first laser pulse is completely absorbed - problem is, the second pulse, coming only milliseconds after the first, will have a clear path to the target.
  7. 500 mW (meaning 500 milliwatt) lasers are laser pointers, roughly strong enough to light a cigarette. Yes, those are easily handheld (found one weighing 56g), and useful for attempting to blind enemy personel, but do not expect to cause much physical damage (skin burns, yes, but no comparison to what a 9mm round will do to a body). If you are looking for an explicitely non-lethal way to take out enemy personel, those might be of interest (several military research agencies are looking into those right now, but the person blinded is probably still crippled for life, which is why options like sound cannons are actually considered more interesting by many - lasers are considered because they can damage mechanical optical sensors as well). Here's a website where you can buy some real life 5 watt laserpointers: https://www.c4lasers.com/ Actual laser cutters designed to "punch through steel" operate in the thousands of watts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_cutting#Process The problems you run into with those is not only the weight of the laser itself (not even considering the power cell here), but also that at this rate of energy consumption you generally need cooling equipment as well. Physically speaking, i can only reiterate: transforming chemical energy to kinetic energy to disruption of molecular cohesion has less energy loss than transforming electrical energy to light to disruption of molecular cohesion.
  8. I've been trying to wrap my head around how a typical mission in Xenonauts 2 would actually go. The following would not apply to base defense missions. There is a couple of assumptions i am making: 1.) The Xenonauts are a clandestine armed paramilitary organisation that is not working directly with the government. 2.) In the missions that i am considering there are government-affiliated armed personel (might be legal armed private security forces rather than army, for instance) on the map who are hostile towards the Xenonauts and will use their weapons against the Xenonauts if given the opportunity. 3.) Given that Xenonauts 2 is supposed to be set in 2015, long after anti-terror units have been established in most countries, whatever country they are operating in probably has one. 4.) The Xenonauts have access to a magical transport plane, which does not need a runway to start or land, can reach any point on the globe and fly back on a single without refueling, and cannot be detected by radar, thermal sights or normal visual confirmation. A mission should have several phases, some of which might be so short that they are possibly not even noticeable. Phase 1: Decision Phase: Initially, the Xenonauts figure out that there even IS a mission. Some notification pops up for the player. The player chooses to either do anything about it, or decides to ignore it from the get go. Phase 2: Intelligence Gathering Phase: here is where the Xenonauts attempt to obtain as much information on their mission as possible. This phase might be forced to be very short, for instance if an UFO crashed and if the Xenonauts want to do anything, they need to do it almost immediately before the national troops get there. If this is something like an assassination mission, this intelligence gathering phase might encompass several days, during which potentially some operatives assigned to gathering intelligence might not be available for other tasks. Some intelligence gathering skills might influence how quickly the operative gathers the information, and the more time he gets the more data he can provide. This might include: biome for the mission, map size and type (cluttered, open, ...), number of enemy troops on the map, type of alien controlling the troops, some information on the equipment of local troops, response time of local forces (and maybe a way to delay them), and possibly even a full map reveal if enough time is spent on gathering intelligence. It is conceivable that the operative might be injured or even killed during his attempts to gather intelligence ... or potentially be captured prompting a rescue mission (though thinking about it even though i like the idea that would probably be suicide). (Personally i wouldn't like an operative to be killed during an event i have little control over as a player ... some people might like random deaths at higher difficulty settings, though.) Phase 3: Silent Approach: Since the Xenonauts are typically the attackers, they would want to get in the best position possible undetected before opening fire. In a number of scenarios - assassinations for instance - optimally the first loud shots fired should also be the ones right before retreat is called, but realistically that often will not be possible (real life suppressors do not work at all like Hollywood ones). There might be cases where the Xenonauts are detected on approach, and this phase is basically skipped. Phase 4: Going Loud: The Xenonauts have been detected, shots may have been fired, the hostile troops are now aware that an enemy is present, their behaviour probably changes from patrols to grouping up and taking defensive positions or moving out to engage the Xenonauts. Maybe a radio jam is in place to delay reinforcements, but normally radio jamming is detected pretty quickly - especially today in the era of mobile phones it will only take seconds, because the mobile phone company will get alerts about thousands of packages suddenly being dropped in the vicinity of a signal tower - so this might slow down reaction slightly, but not by much. If the radios are not jammed, the first thing to happen will be the enemies of the Xenonauts calling for government backup. It would probably be adviseable to give some type of alert to the player that enemy reinforcements are now on the way, and if he plans to finish the mission he might prefer to do it quickly. The first to arrive should be special forces probably of a counter-terrorist unit. These are probably on par skill wise with the Xenonauts, and given that the governments have alien cooperators, likely are technologically at the same level as well or even better. I'd suggest a team size of 4-10, roughly equivalent to the number of Xenonauts on the map, arriving a certain number of turns after the alarm has sounded, immediately aggressively spreading out hunting for the Xenonauts. These are tough enemies, and fighting them has little benefit in the long run if it could instead be avoided, but their numbers are small so there is the option of engaging and eliminating them to continue on with the mission without further interruption. Still several turns later the actual reinforcements arrive - likely normal military or police forces, less trained and with worse equipment than the Xenonauts, but in numbers that are downright impossible to fight; 50+ would seem like a reasonable start, if the AI can handle those without hanging up (if not, spawn 20 and just spawn a new one for every one that dies?). These are normal soldiers, so their progression through the map will probably be A LOT slower than that of the Xenonauts or the special forces immediate response team. They'll very gradually and carefully move from cover to cover, and might have access to light offscreen artillery, basically slowly pushing the Xenonauts out if they haven't left on their own already. Gameplay wise they function as a soft timer that ends the mission, similar to how some games spawn an invincible enemy that will hunt you off the map after a certain time. Eventually having either completed their mission or facing resistance that they cannot overcome, the Xenonauts retreat to their pickup zone and end the mission (or all of them are dead...). Now, one thing that is giving me a bit of a headache are helicopters and the Xenonauts plane. Normal anti terror units are usually supported by helicopters, which, if nothing else, give aerial information, but usually also carry a sniper at least. If the player is attacking a military installation in the (in this scenario still existing) USSR, i would not be surprised if the Speznaz arrive by Mi-24 (NATO designation Hind), and decide that since the thing is already in the area, why not use it's rocket pods and electric gatling cannon? Some reason would need to be found why this is not happening ... maybe the magical Xenonauts support plane is shooting them all down? But then there's the magical Xenonauts plane itself. Since it can land and start without needing a runway, it can obviously go very slow, probably even is a VTOL. Now, let's assume that we cannot put a minigun turret on the thing for sci-fi tech reasons as it would somehow wreck the stealth properties ... but why should rocket pods not be doable? My initial assumption was that the Xenonauts had only one of the magical planes ... if i can have multiple, can i have one transport Xenonauts and another with the transport cavity packed full with guided missiles? If there is only one, what is the explanation for the gradual increase in squad size throughout the game? If i can modify the plane, why can i not add weaponry instead of transport capacity? If there is only one Xenonauts plane, there'd be the option to embrace the rocket pods: one could simply give the player the special ability to throw a flare once or twice per mission, and in the next enemy turn the invincible transport plane zooms over the map and unleashes hell on a three square radius around the place the flare landed. Of course since a large number of missions will be assassination missions, one would have to consider whether this is wanted as an option to just blow away the main alien endboss. One option to prevent this would be to give the alien boss a type of energy shield that will make him invulnerable for one turn (but maybe also make it so that he cannot do anything himself that turn), that he can only use once per mission, though. If the rocket pods have not been used yet he will automatically keep it in reserve to counter those if they come - if the rocket pods had already been used, he would have heard that, and he knows about that there might be rocket pods if the player has ever used them before. If the player already used the rocket pods elsewhere on the map, this basically means that the alien endboss will be immune to damage the first turn he is engaged. Given that the aliens know the Xenonauts exist, and that they don't have a base every couple of square kilometers, they can easily infer that they need to have arrived by plane, so it would be reasonable to assume that the alien-influenced military scrambles fighter jets to look for the Xenonauts plane. Even if the plane is invisible and undetectable, the Xenonauts are not, so if the fighter jets got information about where the Xenonauts are disappearing into thin air they could just carpet bomb the area to get the transport plane. Why is this not happening? The "light offscreen artillery" mentioned previously for the second wave of mundane reinforcements i would implement the same as the Xenonauts' rocket pods: have a soldier throw a flare, shout into his radio and then have projectiles descend from off screen blowing up a number of random squares around where the flare landed. Whether the troops have access to offscreen artillery at all might be dependent on how the players threat rating currently is, and every trooper killed (including special forces) might raise his threat rating by a very small amount. By the way, i am referring to the Xenonauts transport as the "magical plane" because i do not consider a discussion on how it technically achieves these things necessarily fruitful. Basically it is a plot-McGuffin that is necessary for the story to work at all, so in my opinion it makes more sense to initially figure out what exactly it can do, and then go back and find an explanation for how it is doing it afterwards ... in case of doubt, magical alien sci-fi tech mumbo jumbo.
  9. Wouldn't work in reality on a weaponized pulse laser, since the heat would sublimate the reflecting particles within the first couple of pulses (it already turns air into plasma). I also think the idea would be useful gameplay wise, and gameplay fun is ultimately more important than realism in game, if a choice has to be made; but i feel that the constant agreement to deviate from reality in games and movies has prompted more and more people to become completely convinced of ideas that are just factually wrong. Wouldn't it be interesting to get things right instead and in the process challenge some of the incorrect assumptions that seem to calcify in people's heads more and more? That's essentially what prompted my post. If as an engineer i read a thread starting with "realistically this should all be different" and continuing on to "All I'm getting out of this thread as that a lot of people really don't understand how real lasers work." and the posters get their physics wrong ALL over, then eventually i get twitchy and write a 1000+ word post.
  10. Correct. It's been a long time since i had time to play, so i couldn't remember the name off the bat. Found that one reasonably entertaining for short period of time - being a free flash game unsurprisingly there is not a lot of content. But i thought the execution was reasonably well done.
  11. I've refrained from commenting on my views regarding weapons and ammunition in Xenonauts so far, but you want realism? Fine, here we go. Primarily because the transmission from energy cell to laser to heat in the target object is WAY less efficient than from chemical propellant to kinetic energy in the projectile to physical deformation of the target object. To put it more clearly: if you want a laser which does roughly the same damage as a rifle, it will have the size and weight of a cannon, and then your commanding officer will ask why you didn't bring a cannon instead. If you want a real life example, look up the "Iron Beam" Israeli missile defence laser. Even only operating in the dozens of kilowatt range rarther than the hundreds of kilowatt range, it's the size of two trucks with the majority of that being fuel cells and cooling systems. This system is capable of shooting a drone or missile out of the air within "4-5 seconds" according to the manufacturer. Now imagine for the same size and weight you can get about two BM-21 Grad vehicles ... just think for a second about the difference of having your troops engaged by the Iron Beam for 4-5 seconds versus two BM-21 for the same time. Yes, their purpose is a very different one, but this example illustrates just how vast the difference in actual power output between chemical propelled projectiles versus lasers at our current level of technology is. The magical alien power cells would alleviate that some, but the more efficient option regarding pure physical damage would still be a rail weapon rather than a laser. Actually, using weaponized lasers you run into a problem called "blooming". Once your laser delivers more than a megajoule of energy, the air it's going through turns to plasma, dissipating the beam and making it spread wildly. One of the most common countermeasures is to not fire a continuous beam but rather have it fire in short bursts, usually called a "pulse laser" ... which, surprise, leads back to the much maligned laser machinegun of xenonauts 1. Kind of funny how sci fi movies have made people critizise real technology as unrealistic. Ok, let's talk realism here then. A 5.56x45mm NATO rifle round within the first 100 meters travels at over 850 meters per second, meaning that at an engagement range of 50 meters or less (and we can't even see that far in xenonauts) it covers the distance within less than 0.06 seconds. The bullet drop within 50 meters is below 3 cm according to my ballistic charts. So, bottom line as far as accuracy goes bullet drop and travel time are neglegible in Xenonaut engagement ranges. Just to put ranges in perspective: an olympic level sprinter wearing nothing but a shirt and shoes and running 10m/s takes 5 seconds to move 50 meters. For a trained shooter that is EASILY enough time to take several aimed shots at the runner, meaning that 50 meters must be more than the range you can optimally cover moving two turns after having maxed out your TUs. An argument can be made regarding recoil or even more interesting flinching, but bullet drop and travel time are neglegible at these distances. Someone else quoted scientific research proving that over 90% of Xenonaut players are minmaxers ... couldn't find the exact quote nor replicate the research, but it seems plausible to me. Basically the playerbase can be split into two groups: those who don't overanalyze and are just in it for the fun, and they will research the weapons simply because they are later in the tech tree and therefore they must be better, and those who are of the minmaxy type, who only need to see a rather small advantage to start considering the research. Since the weapons have different strongpoints - accuracy, damage, range - if the player has information on which qualities are most beneficial to him in the mission he is engaging in he will also choose a different weapon. For that purpose, intel on whether the next missions area will be an urban sprawl with tight corners and only short line of sight or a few buildings and watchtowers in the arctic with virtually no cover to be found would need to be available to the player before he chooses what loadout he wants to bring. Being able to have additional information on what enemy you are facing - given you can then infer the amount of damage needed to take down one of them and the range at which they prefer to engage your troops - would also be useful. If you actually want somewhat more realistic weapons, introducing a flat armor value for targets which reduces damage and an armor penetration value for weapons would make most sense. The normal 5.56x45mm ammunition issued to NATO foot soldiers is in fact not designed to kill. It is intended to wound the target, since a wounded soldier screaming in pain won't be a threat for a bit, while at the same time requiring a second soldier to give him medical attention and reducing the morale of his unit as he suffers near them. Compare that to the specially developed FN 5.7x28mm ammunition for the FN P90 submachine gun. This weapon was designed for use by special forces in close quarter combat - it's projectile velocity is far below the 5.56 round, and it is made to deform after penetrating the target, so that the maximum amount of kinetic energy is transmitted to the target and overpenetration is avoided. MAG-weaponry would in my opinion actually be counterproductive for use against "soft" human targets. The projectile will rip straight through, actually doing less damage than a slower projectile which starts to tumble and deform (and possibly even split) inside the target. If body armor is available which actually stops normal rifle ammunition from penetrating, mag weaponry suddenly becomes much more attractive. There's a fair chance it still wouldn't do more damage than a convential round if it penetrated, but the issue is that the not penetrating normal rifle round does effectively no damage at all. Ultimately, introducing non-comparables to the different weapons would probably be the best way to go. Making lasers "blinding" which game wise would probably be best implemented by a negative accuracy modifier for the next turn only (for instance assuming that personel is equipped with automatically darkening lenses, which then however leave them in the dark for a few seconds), and giving all plasma weaponry aoe damage, making them the highest damage weapon in the game, which is however hard/hazardous to use because of it's very short range, might well be the most effective approach.
  12. Yeah, but light machineguns in xenonauts 1 were the best suppression weapon in the game ... in my eyes actually their main purpose, since damage wise high tech rifles did well enough at just killing aliens, with less reload times and TU costs. As far as "flying earth and rocks" go ... ask a hunter to fire his weapon into the ground nearby, and observe just how much earth actually goes flying. Unless they are using an elephant rifle it'll be pretty much none. They generally will refuse to fire at rocks, because the rock will just remain inert with the projectile bouncing off it and ricocheting off in a random direction.
  13. Firstoff, i think those are actually interesting ideas that would probably benefit the gameplay. Your disagreement stems from a common misunderstanding regarding "suppression" and what i call the 5.56 suppression-myth. Anyone who's ever fired a normal rifle knows that there's an explosion right in front of your face, and if you are not wearing ear protectors you will get hearing damage from doing it too often (and anyone who hasn't can probably figure that out rather quickly). In comparison, a normal rifle projectile - 5.56 or 7.62 doesn't make too much of a difference here - makes a "thwud" sound if it impacts something soft, or a "shhpeng" if it ricochets of metal. Those sounds are so quiet that untrained personal oftentimes are initially rather unsure whether they are even being fired on. Any idea of "physical suppression" the sort of which would be caused by a flashbang or an artillery barrage is therefore utterly laughable - if anyone would get suppressed, it would be the shooter, not the target. The smallest calibre where i'd be willing to consider the possibility of physical suppression would be 12.7 / .50 cal (which is typically mounted and not carried by infantry) ... if parts of the wall you wanted to take cover behind start to vaporize, then yes, i consider an effect of physical suppression likely. Nonetheless especially the US military continues to propagate the 5.56 suppression myth, leading to rather ridiculous numbers of bullets fired per kill. This rather confused me, until i read the excellent book "On Killing" by Dave Grossman. Ultimately, "5.56 suppression" is a rather lethal turn based game, where either side gets to "suppress" the other by wildly firing roughly in the direction of the other with no real intent of killing anyone, and then hide in cover reloading: "Sorry, I can't do anything, Sarge, I'm being suppressed!". Actual kills then happen either by artillery, airstrike, crew served weaponry or the 2% of military personel that actually shoot to kill - and those don't use rifles on autofire, ever. There definitely is such a thing as physical suppression from massive explosions like artillery barrages or 30mm autocannons loaded with HE rounds, which then gets a bit confused with "5.56 suppression" which is actually people taking cover because they don't want to get shot (and usually also don't want to shoot anyone). There is the valid question whether one really wants to set that straight in a video-game about killing aliens, where the hesitation to fire a killing shot would doubtlessly be far lower than in a conventional war of humans against humans.
  14. As someone who also enjoyed this aspect (though seemingly a number of people didn't) i actually thought about making a mod towards that end. Wouldn't be difficult even: all you need to do is change airstriking a crashsite so that it basically gives the same rewards as clearing it with troops, and then you only need to do a couple of missions to acquire tech and the rest is strategical planning and air missions. There is a free flash game which has strong similarities to Xenonauts air combat which is set in a fictional WW2 era and is turn based - if you're interested i'm sure you can find it quickly.
  15. Drakon

    Xenonauts 2 Development Overview

    Two quick questions regarding the setting: From the picture you posted i assume the regions are North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Russia / USSR and Pan-Pacifics. Where do you group in the Middle East? You mentioned in the Geoscape post that a day basically equals a turn on the strategic scale. How many days do you expect a successful Xenonauts 2 run to roughly take (of course different playthroughs will likely have significantly diverging lenghts, i'm just wondering about the general scale, so whether to expect roughly 90 days/turns or rather 360)?