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About Drakon

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  1. From my understanding, apart from name and theme, Xenonauts 2 will have no connection to Xenonauts 1. While not official, my interpretation was always that there are significantly more alien attacks going on than were shown, and the Xenonauts always just took care of those the local military couldn't handle, given that they have the most modern gear and license to operate beyond national borders. Military forces pursuing a unit into a neighbouring country would have easily caused severe trouble in 1975. Strictly speaking, no, this is not the only possible concept, it is merely the most obvious doable one, but closer inspection might deliver a superiour alternative. I am not exactly certain what the current exact plan for the storyline of Xenonauts 2 is (this also answers your comment regarding integration of different alien species) - if he has time to spare, maybe Chris will shed some light on that. I'd like the approach of that. Rather than "We expect you to succeed every mission and the terror level / defcon level will rise every time you do not" make the base assumption "Things are already going south fast, try and find something you can do to stall the apocalypse." I think it might also be beneficial for balancing purposes, if your base assumption is not that the player will win every mission, but rather that you expect him to succeed in n missions per month. That was actually more the case in WW1 than in WW2; by WW2 both sides already had a pretty firm grasp on air combat and becoming a pilot actually wasn't exactly a death sentence. Problem with your approach is that once nuclear weapons or FAEs become available to clear the skys your "flying bombs" probably won't even reach their destination - individual ones get shot down, swarms get nuked. The main nation that i can think of right now that used suicide planes was Japan, and the Kamikaze pilots actually are not generally considered to have been effective beyond initial surprise (not needing fuel for the flight home allowed them greater operational ranges than anticipated). Sure the StuKa sometimes failed to pull up in time, but that was an unfortunate exception rather than the norm. Bottom line however, is, that both sides that used these "flying bombs" lost the war (more due to resource reasons, but still). Stealth tech. In particular, my explanation would have been alien collaborators who provide said stealth technology, but it is close to impossible for us humans to replicate (the alien traitors might be politicians or philosophers rather than engineers, and/or might have dramatically died while delivering the means to defend ourselves to the humans) which also would explain why the Xenonauts only operate in such small numbers and why there is only one such agency in the world rather than at least one sponsored by each of the major factions.
  2. Problem in Xenonauts 1 was that the player really had very little incentive to take risks and move faster. The addition of timed VIP rescue / capture missions, lateron appearing reinforcements and the like should alleviate that problem. I actually posted an idea for the AI in my suggestions thread that would largely solve the issue. So it's definitely on the radar for the dev team and they will be addressing it - we'll probably have to wait and see for a later version of the game as to how and to what extent. Those were actually design decisions. They deliver on the power fantasy of "I am so grandious, the aliens' weapons just bounce off my chest". And those special, gamebreaking powers feel awesome ... for about the first eight times that you use them. So especially if your QA sessions aren't very long, they'll get glowing reviews. In the short term they provide player gratification ... of course at the price of sucking the fun out of the game long term. While i do not like Firaxis design decisions, there are enough people out there who would readily enough spend money on a third Firaxis X-Com.
  3. Immediately. As a sidenote: i learned to hate the alien grenades when the Xenonauts Community Edition AI was using them. It is the one thing that consistently does damage against my troops, combat shields or no, and they are using it well enough - actually usually preferring it over their main weaponry if they are in range. But yeah, symmetry between the AI and the player would for instance actually mean the AI getting the same number of units as the player with the same stats, and in that case humans would stomp the AI easily, no challenge involved. I never advocated that. I warned against making the job for the AI team even harder than it already is. The issue i see is that i think the balancing of such special powers is way harder than you make it out to be. If any of those powers, or in a much more likely scenario any combination of some of those powers, break the AI they basically become a supreme "I win"-strategy, which will actually not diversify but break the gameplay. And i'm not even talking about the AI completely hanging up and not responding at all any more, but just a situation where the AI uselessly shuffles back and forth between two positions and can be picked off by the player with ease. Once a player figures something like that out, they can use it every scenario and get a free win - compare for instance the player who abused the AI cheating and knowing of his position in Firaxiscom 2 that i mentioned above. Avoiding that becomes exponentially more difficult with each additional option you give the player, because the AI programmer needs to figure out what might be done with any combination of the existing items. My basic assumption was that if the AI programmer can figure out a way how to make the AI use the option the player has, then he can probably also figure out a way for his AI to operate around the players actions, and the game balance won't be further skewed in favour of the player. I simply think that adding things in the design phase that will create an exponential additional workload later is as a rule a very bad idea, and should only be done very sparingly. If you show these things to your AI team and they say that their AI should be able to handle them no problem, then sure, why not, diversifying gameplay throughout the experience is certainly a good idea. But if those things get put in too early and without reflection, there will be massive adverse effects. If any players hear that they might get lightsabers, and lateron figure out they actually won't get lightsabers because those would make the game worse, there will be a lot of griping. But there are also developers who end up falling so much in love with an idea, or fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy, and then try and explain away the actual problems with the items or push the problem on the AI team. That's exactly how you end up with a crappy AI: by not planning ahead and not giving the AI team enough time or resources to do their job well. And as can easily be seen on the Firaxis message boards, that does make a huge difference in whether the players enjoy the game and consider it a good game or not. (Sidenote: figuring out a weakness of the AI and capitalizing on it is actually part of the fun of the tactical gameplay. But that weakness should not have been an accident but instead designed by the AI team, so that rather than there being that one supreme strategy that just wins every mission, the AI can over time change it's behaviour and also announce those behaviour changes to the player, making them adapt an diversify their gameplay over time. Imagine if in X1 the player had intercepted a transmission from the aliens "No humans spotted in sectors 1, 2 and 4. Bombard sector 3!" There would have been no complaint about the AI cheating, and the player would have immediately known why he was being shot at from off screen and what he should do about it.)
  4. Well, i actually wrote but i do think that differentiating yourselves from Firaxiscom is not only a good thing, it is downright necessary to be something different than "that X-Com clone", which is why i asked where you want to take a different path. I get what you are saying. I might be less allergic to those statements because a.) i've been exposed to them less and b.) the areas where Firaxis did decide to skimp, namely writing and AI are areas i hold much dearer than graphics, where Firaxiscom overall did really well (and i haven't heard anyone say: "The movement of those aliens just looks really wonky."). I think it might be a good idea to pin something like what you posted here, because that is the underlying premise under which anything else can be discussed.
  5. Well, firstoff, Max_Caine wrote just recently so based on his words, yes, that seemingly does make for more entertaining battles, and secondly, if you write your AI as "do the same thing every time with no random variation" then yes, you will encourage the players to do the very same thing every round. If "form big blobs and run at the enemy" is resulting in consecutive losses, then it isn't a very optimal strategy, and if you think anything i wrote logically concludes that they should do that literally every mission, then i'll have to wonder who taught you logic. I think it is you who are missing my point. I at no point wrote: "The AI should at every point in the game be a god." I stipulate that in a single player tactical game the quality of the AI determines A LOT of the quality of the game, because the fun lies in out-thinking / outwitting the enemy AI, and hence, anything that lowers the quality of the AI should be viewed with caution. And, as i already wrote above, that is no absolute statement from god that must never be bent, no, there can be times when it is the better choice for the game to put something in that will make the AI worse, but those cases are definitely in the minority. If the point of a tactical game is not to outwit the enemy, then what is it, in your opinion? And if there's nothing to outwit, then where is that fun you are talking about?
  6. While i do dislike tools for the player the aliens do not get, both because i think it does not fit thematically and because it logically doesn't make any sense lore wise, both these arguments fall by the wayside compared to whether adding those tools will make for a better game. I did bring clear arguments why that in all probability will not be the case - provided your focus is to make a tactical simulation game rather than computer barbie for men. And don't get me wrong - i'm not trying to say that computer barbie for men is awful; i think we all had our moments of gloating over "Ooooh ... all these shiny gun attachments! Which one should I put on tonight?", in that respect i plead guilty and have enjoyed my time playing computer barbie for men, i just tried to find a genre that actually describes the situation, whether you put priority on that or on the enjoyment of the actual tactical fight. That partially depends very much on what those options are and how they are implemented. I do not think that anyone decided to equip plasma weaponry in Xenonauts 1 when they had mag weaponry available. In so far, adding that option did not actually broaden the decision space of the player, and paradoxically, putting in something overpowered can actually narrow down the number of valid tactical options. Think of "Magic - The Gathering" decks where EVERYONE runs the same cards, regardless of what deck they are building, because those cards are just that good that not using them would be an obvious strategic mistake. That's basically reducing the maximum number of cards in a deck by the number of overpowered cards, resulting in a lower possible variety of decks. Conversely, options that vary in quality depending on the situation will expand the decision space and make the game more interesting, but are usually a lot more work to implement and get right. Think of adding a ladder as possible equipment for human soldiers versus a jetpack. The ladder is obviously way more work to put in the game than the jetpack, but requires more player thought to use, and thus comparatively makes the game a better tactical game. I'll have to tell you that you are quite literally wrong about this. When i switched to the Community Edition of Xenonauts the very exact scenario you described happened. I lost several soldiers to Sebillians hiding in cornerspots with shotguns before i learned to check my corners, and those Sebillians were mowed down right afterwards by my troops because they blasted away short range at full auto and didn't save any TUs to retreat. I was elated. Finally i actually had to look at the screen playing, and i quickly learned to check my corners. If a Caesan took a long range pot shot at me and then ran out of sight for cover, it was easy enough to determine the optimal hiding spot, and just flush it with a flashbang. The AI in Community Edition is still bad, but it is so much better than in the base game. Sure it'd be nice for them to actually have survival instinct and clever group tactics, but i'll gladly take hyper-campy aliens over the basic AI that makes it's units waste TU by running from one cover to the other and back again. Whatever your "optimal strategy" is, hand it to players for a couple of days and they'll shred it easily. All your troops are grouping and then moving against me as a blob? I just put everyone on overwatch with rocket launchers then, and given that my troops have cover and your's don't, there's little doubt who'll win that engagement. Now you stagger them so they don't all die from response rocket shots? Say hello to Mr. Redshirt, the new recruit i take on every mission, who is sitting in front of my troops as a canary. When he dies, i know your troops are there, and they get obliterated by my countercharge. I actually read an amusing entry in a discussion on the X-Com 2 reddit, where one of the gamers pointed out that the fact that the AI cheats and always knows where his soldiers are actually makes the game easier for him. He can anticipate the AIs pathing and just sets up his soldiers in overwatch and as the pods float in, they get taken down by a hail of fire. Boring as fig stew in my opinion, but certainly effective. And i do not say this thinking i belong to an elite minority of epic gamers of awesomeness while the plebs won't be able to handle the hard mode for "real men". Quite the opposite: developers keep underestimating the gamers capacities rather drastically. Literally everyone i talked to about it loved the moment when for the first time in Metal Gear Solid 2, after you had taken out all the guards in an area, a little while later one of their walkie talkies would turn on: "Patrol 2, status! ... Patrol 2, respond! ... No response from patrol 2. Send in the backup team!" If your game is good, sure, players may gripe about it being too hard initially, but soon enough they'll develop strategies to deal with the problems and win anyhow. Ask around how many games people disliked and put away because they were too hard. There will be practically none. Games are dropped because players feel frustrated, and that doesn't come from the game being hard, that comes from the players feeling cheated or treated unfairly. That's exactly the case in FiraxisCom 2, where the players noticed the AI cheating, and that's exactly the reason why conversely the Dark Souls franchise is so very successful and highly praised. No. I'd say that's probably literally impossible. I'd like to meet the guy who can write an AI that can come up with creative adaptive tactics like a human can. Either way, he'd probably be above your budget. So the AI will be in many aspects way more limited than a human player will be, which necessiates some workarounds: higher stats for AI units, for instance, or access to gear the human player won't get. Every tool you give to a human player that the AI doesn't have means you need more workarounds to give the AI a chance. Full vision over the entire battlefield from the get go, for instance? And that is where players start calling bullshit and get frustrated. Add to that the issue that the AI needs to be able to somewhat anticipate player actions. Every option you give to the humans makes the decision tree that much more complicated for the AI programmer, if he is to anticipate the possibility of it. You are actually stating that you see no difference in quality between an AI that is challenging because of smart decisions and that you have to outthink versus an AI that is challenging because of high stats that you have to out-equip? I am baffled.
  7. Reading Chris recent reply to Bobby Gontarski made me realize that my assumption that Xenonauts 2 would actually attempt to be a more serious, adult and sophisticated game of the X-Com genre that holds itself to higher standards than what Firaxis delivered was actually based on literally nothing that was ever said by anyone on the Goldhawk staff, but exclusively by my own expectations formed from playing Xenonauts 1. Instead i read a lot of "we are going to add something like that, which already is in the X-Com 2 made by Firaxis" and not much "This is what will be awesome, special and unique about Xenonauts 2" (and don't get me wrong, using good ideas from other games is an intelligent choice, but i'm not really interested in a Firaxiscom 2 clone made on a smaller budget, so here i am looking more for the differences than the similarities). So my question is: What is it that you actually set out to create? What are your design philosophy goals? Do you have a specific target audience in mind, and if so, what is it? What in particular will be the outstanding sales point(s) of Xenonauts 2 that should convince us all to give you money, and what will differentiate Xenonauts 2 from the competition - most noteably Firaxis X-Com 1 and 2?
  8. And here you see the issue quite clearly. Most game companies do not have the option of postponing the launch of their game 3 times, like Blizzard did with Starcraft I. While that may give you a game that is lauded for decades, and basically cements your status as a leading game companie for a similar amount of time, it is usually just financially not doable. The unfortunate reality commonly faced instead is rather that around launch date, time and money runs out, and parts of the game are left either unimplemented or implemented shoddily. Setting yourself up in an even worse strategic situation, gving your AI programmers an even harder time from the get go seems like an obviously poor choice to me. If there's time left at the end, and everything else is already polished and fine, then sure, why not, add in a few more cool gadgets and try and have the AI use them too, and if there's ONE particular item that the AI cannot use then it's probably not such a big deal (or if it turns out to be, you can overcome it by just removing that one item), but adding a ton of stuff in the design phase that will later on only cause additional problems is as strategically unsound as you can get. There is of course the question what you type of game you are trying to make: a solid challenging tactical simulator, or a shiny ride with nifty gadgets and flashy special effects. Firaxis made a decent amount of money with the latter, so you could argue why not try and jump the bandwagon, i just think that it makes more sense to actually offer a different game, potentially targeting a different audience than trying to make "Firaxiscom 2b" with less money and resources. The successes of games like "Faster than Light" or "Minecraft" and the immense recent interest in Roguelikes (or what is called such these days) indicates that there actually would be enough potential buyers for a more challenging, well thought out game, even if - for financial reasons - it lacks some nice assets like complete voice acting and additional visual special effects.
  9. Mordobb, i'd like to reply to this in a more complete and detailed fashion, but frankly, i find myself incapable of overcoming the language barrier. There are several parts of your post where i am not entirely sure what you mean, and i do not want to start a discussion based on quite possibly false assumptions. I'll just go into one misunderstanding you seem to have: The scenario we were discussing was not hitting alien spaceships or troops with nukes, it was threatening to use nuclear weapons to make Earth uninhabitable. For that purpose, the missiles do not even have to be launched - it is enough to detonate them inside their silos. Since either faction has at least 20000 strategic nuclear warheads, and an assumed 1000 of them would be enough to make Earth uninhabitable, it becomes quite a challenge for an alien force to disable enough of them before the humans have the option of making sure that no one will be the winner in this conflict.
  10. Again, the aliens already will need better stats from base to create a somewhat challenging game, because tactically they will almost certainly be inferiour to 90% of all human players. Giving the human players then additional tactical options that the alien AI cannot use will automtically necessiate even more drastic steps to give the AI any chance of doing damage at all. Throughout most of my Xenonauts 1 plays a majority of my soldiers didn't have advanced weaponry, because plasma weapons take a lot of time to manufacture and i skipped laser weapons and that wasn't a problem at all - so i don't see how adding alenium as a limiting factor would change much. I also could only afford advanced armor for a few, and since that offered significantly increased tankiness and partially flight, i cannot really see where the difference to Xenonauts 1 will be. Some people - me and Bobby Gontarski would be examples - would see that differently. Firaxiscom offers hyperpowered super soldiers with "fun" extreme weapons (haven't played Firaxiscom 2 myself, but heard it's pretty much the same), with graphics and sound assets that Goldhawk simply for financial reasons cannot match, but third rate writing and an AI that is anything but impressive. Trying to compete with the power fantasy that Firaxiscom offers seems like a very poor choice for me: the voice acting of the soldiers that Firaxiscom has just makes that fantasy way more immersive. For some players the tactical gameplay is the major focus rather than a power fantasy, and hence those players would be readily willing to sacrifice "fun" items like light sabres if the tactical gameplay gets better for it, and hence would readily rather buy Xenonauts 2 rather than a Firaxis competetor, if that is what Goldhawk promises to deliver. I do not agree. In contraposition i would post that it is not a bad idea at all to have a number of technologies that are available to the aliens, that human players cannot obtain - psionics and teleporting would be examples from Xenonauts 1, even though neither was particularily well implemented and hence not necessarily well liked. If the humans get tech that the aliens do not get, i would suggest it to be something that the aliens wouldn't bother with, because they think they have better technology already - for instance no transportable bridges or ladders because the aliens have teleportation.
  11. Ok ... i actually managed to derp and write before i think. Quite an embarrassing experience. There is a way more obvious and logical reason why there would be tech progression for the aliens in the scenario i mentioned. The aliens are after all planning an invasion as soon as they have the nuclear arsenal of humanity under control, so it's not exactly a smart idea for them to parade their best weapons around before they are ready, especially since the US and USSR are probably immediately going to ask: "Hey, can we have one of those?" and if the aliens refuse, that might raise a bit of suspicion amongst the brass. That might in fact be part of the plan of the Xenonauts: to force the aliens to show that they actually have way better weaponry than they have so far admitted, and thus make the human leaders start to distrust the Xeno diplomats.
  12. I agree with most of your points, Ninothree. Let me firstoff state that i do not consider the hypothethical scenario i discussed to be the only one, nor necessarily the best one, it is merely one i could come up with in limited time that i figured would work. I am not entirely sure whether you are agreeing with that it would work but think another one would be better, or if you see issues that actually make it unbelieveable. In the scenario i put forth, Earth's scientists would be able to master alien tech because the aliens are helping them. But even setting that aside, replicating / reverse engineering existing technology is actually oftentimes not that hard - certainly usually a lot easier than coming up with technology on your own. In Xenonauts 1 there were a lot of technologies that humans basically already had, but just couldn't implement due to inferiour material technology (plasma weaponry would melt, etc.). Then there were some technologies that actually required advanced physics that the human scientists never obtained, and hence could not replicate - ftl tech would be an example. Especially if, as the people from Goldhawk are currently planning, the power cells are tech that the humans never really crack because it is based on physics unknown to them, i think that problem becomes minor. We already have real life gauss cannons (mounted on warships) or mobile defense lasers that will automatically target and shoot down projectiles - the main problem we usually run into is powering them. As far as difficulty progression goes, i think my original post sort of addressed that. My idea was that in a Xenonauts 1 scenario the crews that the aliens would initially send down are scientists and technicians, and only when they actually encounter resistance they start sending soldiers, but they do so only reluctantly, because every spot taken up by a soldier means one techie less per mission, means you need to fly even more missions to complete your goals. In the currently discussed scenario this might be diplomats instead, and there might be concerns that their ultimately powered up tank-like soldiers are a bit hard to camouflage, and that if they send too many fighter bodyguards down their negotiation partners will get really nervous. It would probably also be necessary to stipulate that their better equipped soldiers have essentially higher social standing to explain why they start with initially sending anything but their best equipped troops: going down basically always entails a noticeable risk of death - the player is already capable of murdering anything from the get go, it's just significantly harder - and the higher ups understandably want to avoid putting their own butts in the line of fire for as long as they can. From my understanding of what Chris wrote, Xenonauts 2 will actually not feature hordes of alien foot soldiers, but rather very few aliens as elites with the cannon fodder role delegated to human collaborators. On a different note: i'd request that a "skirmish mode" or "instant fight" is added to the main menu, where you can select the tactical map from a drop down list (including "random"), the difficulty level and the tech tier that you want to play on (a possible list might include "Early game", "Mid game", "Late game" and "Ultra late game" corresponding weapons wise to primarily ballistic weaponry, laser weaponry, plasma weaponry and rail weaponry in Xenonauts one, with some mixture of earlier and later game tech sprinkled in, so it's not uniformly lasers or uniformly plasma weaponry), and you get a randomly equipped force with random stats to clear the mission. Might be a good idea that you need to actually have completed some research in campaign mode to be allowed to select the higher tech tiers, so players don't spoil some surprises for themselves. Adding this should take very little work, and that way you can advertise Xenonauts one with "one game mode already complete (but more enemy variety and weapons will be added to it as well)" when you put it up for early access.
  13. Well, i hate to be the naysayer, 'cause those are never well liked, but someone's gotta do it. I think it is fair to assume that the AI you will write for this game will, on equal footing, in general loose hard to even a moderately skilled human player. Of course, since this is not a rogue-like game, the final expectation is that the player should win, but it also should be at least somewhat close. The problem i see is whether you will be able to / have the time to write your AI to use all that new special tech you are thinking up currently. Even disregarding the argument of reason that since the aliens are working with human collaborators (and the ones with more resources at that) and thus the AI enemies should have access to any equipment that the human player has, from a gameplay perspective, if you give the player tools that the AI cannot use, then you are further disadvantaging an already tactically inferiour opponent. You are essentially shoehorning yourself in giving the AI even more extreme stats - which makes little sense if 80% or more of your opponents are human collaborators, but even more problematically pushes you back towards one-shot-kill scenarios or opponents that are so tanky that it takes half an hour to take them down. Ultimately, i think in the design process, the first question for any tech should be: "Can we write code to make our AI use that?" If the answer is no, then that tech probably shouldn't be in the game. As an example, the "proximity grenades" which i assume are something like throwable mines. There's basically two options: one is that those mines are visible, in which case they are usually more of an area denial weapon. Possible, but you'd have to look into how that affects AI pathing. The other is that the proximity grenades are invisible, which means that every now and again while walking over the map, one of your guys will go boom. Not exactly my idea of fun if there is no counterplay. The teleporting wraiths from Xenonauts 1 were for instance an example where the AI just really couldn't handle the tech. They didn't use their teleports strategically based on information the computer already had, to for instance make a coordinated pincer movement, reinforce attacked aliens or flee from a dangerous situation, they just randomly teleported around the map. They were for me amongst the least threatening of all aliens, since if i ever ran into trouble, i could just hunker down, sit around for a while, and wait for them to teleport in front of me where my soldiers would mow them down. Rather no teleporters for anyone than that.
  14. Firstoff, thanks for the reply. Secondly, about colonization. Unfortunately, i feel quite differently about that. Heinlein saw things pretty much the same way in his novel Starship Troopers. Yes, we generally like to think we are past colonization and oh so very noble, but just look at the way Native Americans and Aborigines are treated to this very day. They are tolerated on the fringes of society or in reservations as long as it is assured that they cannot be a threat to the interests of the major players, but no society intends to give them back any power. The reason our forms of colonization shifted are simply economical ones: slavery doesn't work well with highly educated subjects, and conventional trade just yields more benefits than conquering areas these days. If you are looking for an example where that is not the case, just consider sexual slavery. Since not much education is required there, this is a form of slavery that is still being widely used around the world, including first world regions like Europe or the US. The issue is whether the aliens have the means to trade with us - hence why i stipulated that if they can terraform Mars or Venus (in a reasonable timespan), they would and not bother with invading Earth. If they cannot trade with us ... just take a look at how kindly humans treat other species that are of little use to them, and might in any way, shape or form pose a threat to our interests. Thirdly, regarding the idea of a partial victory: the problem is that with 80% of humanity gone, and the rest being pretty desperately busy trying to barely survive, the aliens could just easily waltz in and take over the place. Humanity would no longer be in any position to offer significant resistance with their nuclear weapons gone. There is something on Earth that to our current knowledge cannot be found anywhere else in the solar system: a functioning ecosystem (yes, i'm ignoring that there might be an ecosystem on one of the moons of the outer planets - either way, it wouldn't be one that a species somewhat similar to ours could survive in). Something like that could probably be replicated by a civilization capable of interstellar travel given enough time, but that is just the crucial issue: how much time is available? I am afraid i cannot quite understand where that assumption comes from. If interstellar travel was easy for them, we probably would have heard of them before (compare Fermi Paradox). I am more picturing an exodus out of desperation, as mentioned for instance because they rendered their own homeworld uninhabitable with their wars. To get anywhere within a somewhat reasonable amount of time, they need A LOT of fuel for an insterstellar colonization fleet. Even if they could mine that in our solar system, would the humans let them (for instance deplete the available deuterium)? Also, i didn't exactly expect that journey to go off without a hitch. A number of colony ships might have had a malfunction along the way, or hit a stray interstellar body, so thousands if not millions would probably have died in cold sleep. The aliens might be understandably reluctant to go through that again for a species they have little reason to care for. Same goes with waiting several hundred if not thousand years to terraform a planet. Is there enough fuel to keep the colonization ships running throughout that time? What if the humans in that timespan decide that actually they want the planets in the goldylock zone for themselves, and attack the aliens? If the aliens get a hold of one of our history books, that worry is not all that far fetched. There is also a political question. It is not absurd to assume that there are factions amongst the aliens who decide to take the moral high road, and declare that a couple of million dead amongst their species is preferrable to destroying this existing ecosystem. This is probably the minority faction, but it might actually be the original source of the Xenonauts. For most aliens, however, it seems probable that they want to go with the option that poses the smallest risk for themselves and their families, so the power holders would naturally be inclined to follow that path. In my original post the optimal end scenario was that the aliens decide to risk another interstellar travel (that could instead also be to risk waiting for the terraforming of Mars or Venus), because if the aliens really have no other option, they'll take a slightly damaged and irradiated Earth over extinction. Hello, i have an energy cell here that will make fossile fuel obsolete. Thank you for handing over your economy to me. All capitalist nations would fall simply with that, not even including other advancements in for instance the medical area. And once you control the economy, you hold major sway over the political leaders in any system. Issue is, that humans actually aren't entirely stupid (even though a number of our species continually try to convince me of the opposite). It would be reasonable to assume that the world leaders would immediately enforce a ban on any free trading with the aliens, to avoid the aliens simply literally buying up the planet, and demand to monopolize the rights to trade. That in itself would be enough to bring the former USSR and the US to the brink of nuclear war. Conversely, if i assume that the aliens are at least as smart as we are, they would be able to figure out the consequences of just appearing in the open. Which is where the clandestine story actually starts making sense. They approach power holders in secret, offering medical rejuvenation treatments and luxuries barely imagineable, and are willing to trade with them if only those power holders will give them a bit of territory that they do not care too much for. A populace was evicted for the creation of the nation of Israel, so why not do it again? This time there would even be A LOT of monetary compensation, and as the aliens claim there aren't that many of them, it is only reasonable to assume that they are willing to share control over the Earth with the rich and powerful amongst the humans. If this is not a colonization fleet, then trade is the more rational and effective option. Of course, the aliens know that once the human power holders start realizing that in the end they won't have any say in the new Earth the aliens are envisioning, because they want all pleasant areas for themselves and will make sure that no human has the power to retaliate for what the aliens have done, the human leaders will start resisting, so the aliens are trying to keep them misinformed and deluded as long as possible, to doublecross them as soon as they can. Maybe you can convince me that actually, in the end good always prevails and Roddenberry's United Federation of Planets is more likely than Heinlein's Terran Federation of "if we can make sure you won't be a threat, we will". While i consider it unlikely, i'd actually like that. Regards ~Drakon
  15. Greetings. Firstoff a clarification: a combat engine deals with probability to hit, reload mechanics or movement options. The issue you are talking about is what is usually referred to as "AI", even though in fact it is merely a glorified decision tree. Apart from that ... I understand your argumentation, and do think it has a lot of merit. I would like to point out a different aspect of your suggestion, though: If you disable the option to save games during a mission, you also intrinsically constrain yourself to that all missions must be short enough to be finished in one session. How long "one session" is, depends a lot on the player. For a pupil on holidays it may be fine to spend twelve hours of a day on a computer game, but as age progresses the time that can be spent on computer games usually decreases. Half way through an interesting session there might be some minor emergency because one of your kids caused some sort of havoc, which just takes precendence over finishing the level of the computer game you are playing. I feel that is particularily of note for Xenonauts, because in my opinion it is targeted at older players. The big competetor is Firaxiscom [2], and when i talked with some friends about why I prefer Xenonauts over Firaxiscom 1, i managed to convey my feelings pretty well with that Firaxiscom is just so horribly neon, while Xenonauts is of a quite welcome sepia. I never finished Firaxiscom 1, because once i had flying soldiers with plasma snipers and soldiers that could stealth and the enemy just didn't have anything that could compare, the game became boring for me. Firaxiscom is to a large degree about the power fantasy of building this ultra-teched elite force of superhumans - genetically spliced or mechanically augmented, and preferrably also with psionic powers to boot. Xenonauts on the other hand is more about the gritty, somewhat desperate fight of "normal" men and women against an overwhelmingly powerful outer force - a fight that needs to be won through determination and smart application of tactics rather than just superiour hardware (this is one of the reasons why i personally hated the "we out-teched the aliens in a few months" rail weapons of Xenonauts 1 and am eyeing the currently suggested alenium supertechnology with a bit of apprehension). I do think it is natural that as age progresses preferences shift from extreme power fantasies towards more realistic darker stories. As someone else mentioned (i think it was Conductiv) there is not much point in trying to outfiraxiscom Firaxiscom, especially if you are already operating with a smaller budget. Much smarter choice of action to focus on one's own strengths and a different playerbase than try and compete with a bigger company in areas where money determines the winner. So under the assumption that Xenonauts is generally more targeted towards a slightly older audience, you'd have to limit your missions so that 90% of them can with certainty expected be finished in an hour or less, even by somewhat inexperienced players (you might have a few gamechanging missions like the last one that will take two hours). Would you personally state that this trade off for a probably better AI is worth it? Regards Drakon