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ApolloZani last won the day on June 25

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  1. Once again, Air Game thoughts! "What's the worst part about Xenonauts?" "The air game." "What XCOM-style game has the best air game?" "Xenonauts." I've been doing my sorta annual playthings of XCOM'em ups, modded and official, and I realize that I'm actually looking forward to playing the airgame, but what I'm remembering so fondly isn't the start with Condors and Foxtrots, but the end with Marauder's against everything. So why is that? I've put in air game mods a few times now and while some of them do cool stuff, they don't really satisfy the potential I feel when looking back. What are the problems? I think it comes down to three things. 1. Xenonaut's 1 air game begins too simply. The first airfights are trivial to take down with Condors. In one sense, this is good for new players because they get to succeed and start on ground missions. It's a lead in to the meatier systems of the game and you're going to have to do this anyways. But it kinda sucks from every other point of view. Narratively, it's weird that you can just take out the first UFOs without a scratch or even really lifting your finger when you're apparently losing the war. Skillwise, this doesn't teach a player anything other than how to press the play button. Replayability goes down when you know autoresolve will do just as good without wasting your time on something you don't find fun. Your first upgrade is even less fun. Foxtrots are cool in the sense that they're faster and have more firepower, but once they launch their torpedos, they're useless and just have to turn around. Getting a missile lock is skilless and turning around isn't much better. 2. It's too easy to lose for how punishing it is. There aren't many air battles where you can make a mistake and have a plane survive. The places where you can make the most mistakes is in the late game, where players have the most skill and options. On one hand, this is good. It represents progress to the player, but we as players make mistakes while learning. In Xenonauts, we'll make the most mistakes where they're the most punishing, in the early game where our fighters can get two shotted. This is made worse by the fact that losing a plane can often mean the whole continent might as well be undefended for the wave. It's a neat microcosm of the ground fight in one sense, where losing a soldier means its going to be harder to finish the mission, but losing a jet is often much more crippling. Where one soldier is at worst 1 of 8, one jet is at most 1 of 3. Where one soldier can kill one alien, one jet can't take down one Carrier. You can expend all your ammo and still have to go home to rearm. Mistakes are easy to make and if you make one mistake, you lose. 3. It's not optimal to engage with the air game. The optimal strategy converges on three Condors (maybe other fighters if you care) and two Foxtrots per base. Three Condors can take out any air superiority mission the game will ever throw at you. 100% success in the autoresolve. Two Foxtrots, assuming you keep up with technologies, can take down anything bigger than a scout and smaller than a battleship, and even a battleship only needs one extra Foxtrot. Escorts pose no issue because you can just target the main ship and run away once the torpedoes have fired. Send Condors at tiny triangles, hit autoresolve. Send Foxtrots at big triangles, aim at the big ship and run away once the missiles have launched. A zero skill, no risk, high reward method to winning the air game at any difficulty level. How do we fix it? Obviously, the answer is super difficult otherwise I'd be able to point to any number of mods out there and say, "right here, just copy X-Division/Skies/Circus/whatever and be done with it." But I think there's one big idea holding us back. We should get rid of the pause button. By adding it, we've let the moment to moment difficulty of the air game increase a hundredfold. If you can pause, then it makes sense to punish single mistakes without mercy because you, as the player, could have easily just paused more and come up with better plans. An airgame with pause has to be extremely difficult to remain difficult at all. An airgame without pause expects you to make all sorts of mistakes. This leaves us with two replacements, real-time and turn-based. Turn-based air combat harmonizes with ground combat, by making it closer in line with your soldiers. Lots of games have tried this approach, however, and I've never really seen an implementation I've truly liked in computer land. Giving your planes orders and watching them play out the next three seconds on their own feels like it should have a lot of room for strategy and tactics, but I've never felt like I've had enough control to go, "Ah-ha! My evil plan is working!" Or "Oh no, I didn't notice the obvious crippling flaw in my strategy!" Whether I win or lose in these games, it doesn't feel like its my fault. In the fully turn-based realm of board games, those tend to be interesting because they add a ton of options outside of the major, "move and shoot," actions. Stuff like drawing the one-use only mega-laser you snuck into your deck, putting in the kind of pilot who can dodge lock-3 attacks at the head of your squadron, and going slower for a turn so you can put out an engine fire. This is very outside scope! But maybe this could work better with having pilots shoulder all the tactical weight. Pilots could learn how to perform trisky maneuvers like rolling dives letting them instantly turn around or "barrel rolls" to full dodge all attacks that turn. They'd have skills like your soldiers to do things like withstand more gs so they can perform multiple high-g maneuvers in a row, and passive dodge stats that represent flicking a wing out of the way just in time. This is one of those situations where I think seeing exactly how the enemy will react to your considered plans is a good thing. When you know that your planned moves will give your pilots the time to deal 17% damage to a ship and take 4% damage from enemy weapons, it might feel more meaningful to choose those moves. When a ship's intentions are marked to you as, "???," you know a surprise is coming and once a special move has been seen, you'll know next time to active your two second overshield to tank the attack. Now real-time does rub against the philosophies of turn-based ground combat a bit, but the air game that's already been developed is just real-time with pause. Any solution here should remain firmly in the scope of what's already been developed. We do have the benefit of standing on the shoulder's of giants here, there are enormous amounts of real-time games out there and we can easily point to examples of good combat. Xenonauts x DotA. Outfit your one jet with items from the already in place item system, use hotkets/hud-buttons to throw missiles that do damage+an effect. Make the enemy ship shoot slower or not at all for a few seconds. Disable their anti-missile missiles so your Foxtrots can shoot from out of left-field. (I mean, if you want to keep them as dedicated torpedo tugs that can't do anything else, why are you allowed to control them in the first place? They should fire the moment they'd be able to get a hit in.) Phase something out of existence for six seconds so you can focus down your other opponents. Keep your distance from some UFOs but try to close in on others. Try to find the sweet spot for your jet/opponent combination. Xenonauts x Starcraft. You have many little jets and box select. You're expected to lose some jets every engagement, but so long as you keep most of them in the skies, you're golden. Strategically take on the hardest UFOs in a wave first when you're strongest and the weaker ones later after losing a few units to attrition. The UFOs can either be many in number themselves in which case its all about positioning, or it can be single boss battles with telegraphed moves (ie, they're charging their laser and the field is starting to glow red where it will hit). No stutter stepping, obviously, but that's just a consequence of a-move. Always-on auto-attacks against whatever a unit is facing (like current) with big radial turns (like current) but much more dynamic speed ranges (sorta current, speed isn't automatically decided but has a huge range). A jet will always try to reach its destination at max speed, but slows down to nearly nothing once its reached it. High acceleration and deceleration. Xenonauts x Supreme Commander. You have three jets with crazy high speeds and almost no ability to slow down. They do runs against the enemy and its up to you to choose their line of approach. If you go in direct, you'll take a lot of damage, but do a lot of damage. High risk, high reward, or you can buzz them from behind and get a few pops in before they turn around and you have some new vectors to work with. If you ever choose a run that has your jets in front of the UFO, that's a clear mistake. You do a little damage and take a lot. Jets can only do a few runs before they have to go home and refuel. Xenonauts x Homeworld. You have two sets of jets. You can choose formations for your jets which vary in effectiveness depending on the situation. Microing one jet can be useful, but it's better to figure out the optimal formation for the situation and send them in. One set of jets are there as distractions/air superiority/counter-defenses, the other set is there to bring the hammer. Xenonauts x Age of Empires II. You have three kinds of jets. Cannons, flak, and missiles. Cannons beat missiles, missiles beat flak, and flak beats cannons. The aliens have the same three kinds of craft. You are playing rock paper scissors.
  2. ApolloZani

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Interviews: Reaper Subject is a 180cm (5'11") tall alien with birefractive violet carapace, internal temperature measured 45C (113F) on acquisition and continued to lose heat until reaching 16C (60F) on expiration, isolation varied through lifetime. Dr. Patel leading, communicating through microphone and two layers bulletproof ALON "transparent aluminum" glass. Excerpt begins 0h0m into recording. Dr. Patel: "Subject appears to be waking. Speakers on, please. Thank you. Can you under--" [Subject immediate rushes glass, stabbing its claws through the first layer and scratching second] Dr. Patel: "Abort! Everyone out!" Dr. Eze: "Control, call quarantine measure two." Dr. Millner: "Get ready to block the door!" Dr. Patel: "Out! Get out now!" [Subject breaches second layer before steel shutter safeties engage and team evacuates frame left] We would have better luck talking to an ant than coming to any form of understanding with the subject (hereby referred to as the reaper). Considering that our little terrestrial friends can pass the mirror test and this creature cannot speaks as much for its purpose as anything else. The only sign of intelligence came when we left it in a dark room without stimulus. It ran along the wall until arriving at its origin, then began digging with the same ferocity it approached everything else. Cognition research was abandoned at this point. The reaper had little concern for anything that wasn't of sufficient biomass to enable its reproductive cycle (approximately 35kg). When introduced to three calves, recently dead, asleep, and awake it only attacked the last. As with field reports, gestation took less than a minute. Thanks to a combination of fluoroscopic and IR imaging we've gained some clues about this gruesome process. It seems the elerium capsules present in its blood are a crucial element, inner spikes previous assumed to be for structural support in fact pierce its own chitin to add the final catalyst. Though such violent procreation (the host dies within 30 seconds, do not assume killing the host will stop a reaper) generated intense bursts of heat, the emerged adult will always be colder than the mother. Because of this, a reaper swarm's time to extinction can be crudely estimated from IR cameras alone and likely has a maximum range of 50km from ground zero. Research does not recommend testing. Considering the amount of available chemical energy compared to emerging adults, Research concludes reaper limitations are a built-in feature. Instances cannot survive more than 48 hours, even under ideal circumstances a swarm will always burn itself out. These are manufactured weapons of terror, more virus than animal. Research recommends any and all encountered reapers be destroyed by whatever means possible to prevent mass casualty events. In the course of its captivity, it escaped a 60cm thick steel room, a 110cm steel armored box, tore through ramping electric palisades until unconscious, stood on white hot semi-molten copper floor until its legs gave out, endured a 135db siren until deafened, ran 6km at dead sprint before destroying the treadmill, implanted two guards (larva removed, full recovery expected), damaged one hundred and eight pieces of equipment, and set off countless alarms during its stay. It does not feel pain nor fear. It does not stop or slow until death. In light of this, Research humbly requests that no more living specimens be acquired.
  3. ApolloZani

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Interviews: Sebillian Subject is a 199cm (6'5") tall alien with green scales, internal temperature 39C(103F), isolated in an airtight, climate controlled, steel-plated room kept at 28C(82F) with high humidity determined by subject itself when given access to controls. Dr. Eze leading, communicating through microphone only. Excerpt begins 19h50m into recording. Subject: [using communications board] WATER. GIVE. HOT. Dr. Eze: "Now you know the deal, no more coffee until you hit the target." Subject: TRY. OR. DIE. It was shocking easy to get the subject (hereby referred to as the sebillian) to cooperate after it ended its rage-like attempts to escape. The creature itself was in fact the one who provided the means when it began scratching into the walls. Assumed to be symbols at first, it was clearer on review they were simply drawings. We've begun matching the rasping noises it made under the assumption of language, but decided prudence should prevail and continued the majority of our communications in the languages both parties knew. Namely ours. The sebillan cannot speak English, or any of the other human languages it knows, yet it could understand us perfectly with some conceptual limitations. When asked to perform simple tasks such as pointing out its flight plan, it asked for food in trade (with preferences for fish and hot drinks). When asked how its weapons worked, where it came from, and what the goals of the invasion were it said it did not know and would not accept anything in trade. A (disabled) weapon was offered and it refused to pick it up which leads us to believe it has some sense of honor or equivalent. Battle strategy was procured at the cost of a climate controlled room and its answer were rather straight forward. Defend the craft and its crew, attack from the darkness, flank and close in. It was told our weapons are nothing to be afraid of and thinks its current confinement is some sort of test. It believes it will soon be in a new crew on a new mission and it believes all of us should be killed on sight. We can confirm it fears fire. Research had hopes we turn this one, however not even a photographic representation of a human could survive its presence. None-the-less, the sebillian remains complaint and steadfast in its confinement. Records of its non-human language grow by the day, yet it may be some time before we can truly make use of them.
  4. ApolloZani

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Interviews: Caesan Subject is a 138cm (4'6") tall alien with grey skin, internal temperature 34C (93F), isolated in an airtight room with N2/O2 mixed to match environment of recovered craft. Dr. Patel leading, communicating through microphone and polycarbonate bulletproof glass. Excerpt begin 8h21m into recording. Dr. Patel: "Why are you killing us?" [Subject presses itself against the glass as if looking for something.] Dr. Patel: "This again. Why don't you ever..." [Subject loses interest. Patel watches the subject return to the center of the room before taking out a picture of their child and smiling. The subject approaches the glass and Dr. Patel radios Acquisitions.] Dr. Patel: "Hello, yes. When will the fMRIs arrive? No, I only need the data. Emotions, yes, please fax them to Engineering." The breakthrough happened after running a gamut of known linguistic exercises, from visual-noun relations to printed instructions. While the subject (hereby referred to as the caesan) initially reacted promisingly to written languages (English, Mandarin, Hindi) when offered step-by-step guides on how to escape its confinement, it quickly ceased responding to any form of communication after receiving none of the promised results. Though this created some internal strife and debates on priorities of pursuit, one of our team members continued indirect interrogations (verbal, visual) and discovered that the caesan remained responsive to local emotional reactions in our own staff. Since no one on the base could control their thoughts to a fine enough degree, Engineering built a simple model of the human brain which pumped blood-oxygen contrast analogue through various lobes based on data gathered before the war. It did not take long to establish continuous communications, beginning first as morse code (happy for dash, sad for dot) then improving until the newly developed PSIAC (psionic systems for interaction with alien caesans) which was achieving 4kb/s two-way links for everything from text to video. Despite establishing communications and building an amiable rapport with our guest, it hardly knew anything about its own world, yet alone the war. In fact, the casean in our possession was only a few days old and had little knowledge beyond its orders of surveillance and subduction of humans. The few relevant memories shared indicate mass production facilities, fleets of hundreds of ships in waiting, and suggestions of a hierarchical command structure with more than a few species seeming to give orders, but between the low quality of the images and a lack of understanding from its source, we can't say much more. Developing PSIAC taught us much, but it taught the ceasan more. At 0400 this morning, it managed to convince one of our guards into letting them escape. It did not go far before that same guard managed to subdue it. In the short period it was out, many of our staff reported feelings of intense fear and outright paralysis. An internal review is being conducted and the ceasan is being kept comatose, but we should be weary. If a few days of training is all that separates emotional influence from outright control, we may yet see harsher battlefield conditions when facing this species.
  5. The Earth is a globe. A great big ball. Our maps rarely reflect this and so we tend to get weirdness like the shortest distance between two points on a map being a curve. I think it's rather cool that Xenonauts has gone with the big map on the wall design, it's straight out of the War Room and NASA's big board. But it's not reflective of reality, following in the foot steps of Sid Meier's Civilization, the world we defend is more of a cylinder than a sphere. While this is good for readability, I though it would be fun to see what my favorite radar stations would look like on a real map of the world. You can mess around for yourself here! https://www.wolframcloud.com/obj/d56d8dd4-4f35-40bd-a319-82bb68a40b56 On a lazy, laggy, interactive map. There are better ones out there, sure, but they're all mercator projection instead of the game's chosen equirectangular. Try it out with: GeoProjection -> "Robinson" GeoProjection -> "Albers" GeoProjection -> "Orthographic" GeoProjection -> "WinkelTripel"
  6. ApolloZani

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Non-Combatant Equipment, Previously Alien Armaments Ship beams that tear through steel like paper. Bottled lightning that leaves hardened soldiers unconscious. Armor that's stronger than kevlar yet breaths like egyptian cotton. Chemically, the recovered fabrics worn by our alien friends are little more than thermoplastics and no more special than a grocery bag save for the fact that it melts at 400 degrees. The secret to its properties is in the larger structure. As hard as its been to rapidly convert our electron microscopes to make photographs instead of digital images, the results speak for themselves. Their clothing is basically a weave of perfect crystals, aligned in a manufacturing process we currently cannot hope to replicate. For now, we can only repurpose the materials left from battle and unlike our friends, we'll make sure it offers head protection. The, "lightning guns," (creatively named in field reports) are a bigger mystery. While our soldiers aren't wrong, it is electricity, it's not nearly high enough voltage to bridge the gaps we've been seeing (not that it would explain the accuracy.) A deconstruction of the weapon revealed that it generates its arc much like a taser with the barrel itself tweaking the charge until it creates its own containment field (which does explain the accuracy.) The civilian applications for intrinsically stable electrical fields might be as endless as the radio with immediate military applications requiring further research. None the less, this particular method results in a far more effective stunning effect and it won't take long for Research to devise a short-range substitute until we can fully replicate the effect. Moving on to aircraft, Maintenance has some troubling news. Reports of projectiles have been greatly exaggerated, expecting to find holes pierced through the avionics, they found only outward shorn pieces of the hull pried off without much damage to the internals. With diverse reports of flyby "tractor beam" abductions and nothing from the recovered craft that seems to be a weapon, we believe the barrage seen in dogfights was that same "tractor" with an incredibly narrow area. Pliers can either delicately grip a pin or cut through wire depending on the mechanical advantage involved, this is the same idea just on a much greater technological scale. We can't yet activate the reactionless "tractor" field effects outside of laboratory conditions, but we can convert our hangers to support those conditions. While the range is only line of sight, it will give our fighters and dropships a no doubt helpful boost on launch. These are not the armaments Research expects from an alien force that sent the world back half a century in a single night. The armor can be easily improved with a facemask, the stun guns aren't designed to kill, and the probe's defenses are less effective than our own autocannons. This is the equipment of non-combatants. Our hopes for a true glimpse of their power lies in the pistol from field reports, the one that shot a hole through everything it passed, the one that detonated when it was fired outside of alien hands. Research cannot provide further insights without those hands, commander. We need an alien. Alive.
  7. ApolloZani

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Classification: Probe The surprise felt in Research was equal only to our elation. That the first one-on-one encounter with an alien vessel could ever end in our victory was not something anyone truly believed until the ship itself was rolled into the lab. Though it is small, measuring less than fifteen meters from tip to tail, it has raised more questions than answers. As a ship it is nothing more than a millimetre thin shell. The material itself somehow acting as both the method of propulsion and energy storage for operations, every part of it vibrating at hypersonic frequencies that enhance a resonance field effect enabling reactionless motion. When this was discovered, we made the mistake of trying to repair the ship as a smaller version of itself and were greeted by a new hole in the ceiling when it tried to resume its flight plan. The impact thankfully broke our temporary chassis and only minor injuries were reported. Strategically, this suggests that UOOs may be taken down by mangling enough of the hull. Nothing inside is critical to its operation, indeed all recovered components seem to be nothing more than our own classified sensory apparatus, complete with serial numbers that match already existent devices. We can easily surmise they've been spying on us and we should assume they're aware of our desire to reverse engineer their technology. Considering the capabilities the aliens have demonstrated thus far (interstellar travel, orbital terror weapons, ect.) we are forced to conclude that this ship is nothing more than an expendable reconnaissance craft. A part of their plan they expected us to find. As such, we classify this signature as merely: Probe.
  8. ApolloZani

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    1 Week, 3 Days, 11 Hours, 2 Minutes Another city has been destroyed. In part because of this organization's coordination, we were ready for this latest tragedy but not enough to begin evacuations. By one measure our response has been phenomenal, hundreds of ICBMs were modified in a matter of days to surround a spacial target we can no longer track with only a few seconds of warning. All our calculations suggested UOO-1 would not be able to dodge that kind of onslaught, but it didn't need to. Every one of our nukes was remotely detonated before getting within a hundred kilometres of the spire. Pictures of the fireballs in the night sky have already begun circulating in recently re-popularized newspapers and panic is becoming as large a concern as the invasion itself. However, we must not lose perspective. Our organization is safe, as are any facilities that can weather a nuke. It's clear the aliens have enormous technological superiority, but their plans do not seem to include scouring the planet of all life. UOO-1's beam does a good job at destroying cities, but it only does a good job of destroying cities. Many states have been building bunkers since London Event 1 and those in the middle LE2 have survived intact. LE3 will almost certainly happen within the next ten days, but without precise readings (the still intact atomic clocks present in museums have proven difficult to requisition) we can't speculate beyond the power of our stopwatches. As humanity is not particularly short of cities, we seemingly have some time. We are besieged, but with the first success of our interceptors and ground forces we've proven our enemy is not invulnerable. If mechanical computers and bullets can take them down it is not a completely unfounded assumption that recovering more of their technology will give us an even greater edge.
  9. ApolloZani

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Invasion Doctrine The London Event did not directly coincide with the global failure of all electronic systems. While recovering the final transmissions of our satellites has proven difficult without modern computers designed to actually read our once endless data streams, timestamps are easy enough to find with punch cards and old ENAICs. EMPs are, in essence, light and so subject to its own speed limit. If UOO-1 was solely responsible for why this communication came through fax instead of email, we'd expect to see our last timestamps in an expanding bubble from one side of the world to the next. Instead, it was a coordinated near-simultaneous failure. Our planet was bombarded in a shell, one that originated hundreds of kilometres up and from so many point sources, it was almost easier to imagine we simply overlooked some major aspects of physics, but we must face facts. We are surrounded by thousands, if not millions of UOOs. Considering some of the reports we've been receiving from our sponsor states, incursions from these UOOs has already begun. The few working aircraft have had several encounters with pilots reportedly only able to track atmospheric disturbances rather than anything concrete. Unfortunately, it would seem that the worldwide EMP was not a one time only event. The few guided missiles we've been able to build since the attack have all fallen out of the sky. Anything relying on technology more complicated than a vacuum tube might as well not exist in this war. However, there is one piece of good news. Whatever the aliens are using to disguise their craft is not fully transparent at 918.6nm, an IR frequency readily absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere but easy enough to create and install on the "Angel" modified MiG-25s already in our hangers. Last week, aerial warfare was dominated by a doctrine of no-escape-zones and beyond-visual-range reconnaissance. Today, we're back to dogfighting. We can only hope the newly adjusted radar algorithms provided by the Americans will be enough to detect the atmospheric disturbances we've heard of and that our fighters will be up to the task of taking down our unknown enemies.
  10. Even in the original X-Com, building more bases always felt like it was just another place to store radars, hangers, and whatever you ran out of room for back home. I've been thinking back to other games let you build multiple bases around the world and fill them how you like and the one that I enjoyed the most came from Endgame: Singularity. While in that game you're an AI that goes from renting server time, to building warehouses, to labs, to camouflaged bases. Each with their own set of bonuses and debuffs, prereqs and research enablers. Translating that mechanic would look something like your typical starting military base. Perhaps even having it on the surface to start. Researching the alien engine from your first UFO would unlock a catapult for your airships. "We can't activate the reactionless fields outside of laboratory conditions, but we can convert our hangers to support those conditions. While the range is only line of sight outwards, it will give our fighters and dropships a boost on launch. Incidentally this also enables to launch any vessel we want without a runway, finally enabling us to run an entire war from underground. At the very least, a few feet of rock will completely protect us from the aerial attack runs we've been seeing." With the hyperwave decoder, you'd be able to shield a new, smaller base from detection and get a chance to evacuate a base before it comes under attack. "Until now, we were unable to determine what the aliens use for sensors. Certainly they don't use radar or range finders, I imagine we're at least smart enough to hear their pings if they're done in a more conventional medium. With the discovery of hyperwaves, however, we finally have a way to listen and they have much to say. All of it encrypted beyond belief. Thankfully, our own experiments have given us some insights into hyperwave pings and it should be easy enough to disguise a complex military base as nothing more than stone, assuming the base is small enough and built from the ground down in the required acoustic shape." By figuring out the shields of the later ships, you'd be able to build a larger base which can't be destroyed by the orbital laser and, importantly, gives you a ten day respite from city destruction the first time they try. "Right now, we're a hard target surrounded by easy prey. Though the aliens certainly won't give up their efforts to stop us, at the least, we've bought ourselves some time." Alien alloy reforging would let you build a base underwater, making it completely safe from outside attack. "Perhaps the most remarkable feature is that it self-seals under even the lightest pressures. The days of leaks and wall maintenance are over, so long as you don't mind the colour. Alien paint has yet to be discovered and I don't have the time to invent it, perhaps after the invasion I'll find a way to keep my lab white without worrying about repairs every time something explodes. Speculation aside, the applications of alloy reforge are uncountable and of special note to some of my MarineLab colleges, we'll be able to construct underwater labs (and bases) which not even UOO-1 can breech." Singularity fields (like the naked singularities from Xenonauts 1) would enable tiny labs with massively increased research speeds. "The equipment maintaining it would be too sensitive to allow anyone untrained inside, but with a space to work without fear of detection or oversight, we can perform the high energy research that we've been missing since the targeted destruction of all our particle accelerators." Plasma weapons research would unlock magma bases for cheaper, faster, and less resource intensive manufacturing and otherwise be a base with unlimited energy. "More an equation than a device, the aliens have been using the energy of the plasma itself to keep their rounds contained. Indeed, this equation applies to anything hot enough that with even the tiniest paramagnetic imprint and like all equations, it can be reversed. With just the right starting conditions, we can turn the mantel of the earth itself into a nearly endless battery. The heat of the magma would power the internal cooling and anything else we can bring along. Those engineers have been asking me to find a way to run an arc furnace full time and I can honestly say I've outdone their request." And finally, an end game base when you research the drives powering the largest UFOs. "They have their base in the skies. It's time to make ours."
  11. In line with the original thread, I'm also kinda disappointed to see the game become less Xenonauts 2 and more Xenonauts the Remake. I'm not going to refund, I backed because I wanted more XCOM games in the world, not because I was sold on shadow wars and vertical bases. I was however, excited to see them in action and while the art shown off recently has been less than stellar compared to what was in the kickstarter, I believe there will be improvements. Games that reuse assets in development typically do so on a temporary basis after all. Right now, though, my biggest hope is that Xenonauts 2 will be like War of the Chosen. It didn't fundamentally change XCOM2, but it did add on enough bells and whistles to be an excellent addition.
  12. UOO-1 Unknown orbital object one first showed up in the GRACE satellite network, originally designed to map the surface gravity of Earth, as a systemic error that was thought to be a simple bug in the analysis software. Since then, we have been able to infer the existence of a 200km spire-like object which actively avoids collisions with the rest of our satellite systems. Of major concern is that UOO-1 seems to pick orbital paths which maximize lines through major cities. Of minor concern is the fact that we've been unable to detect any further evidence of its existence through even our best EM listeners. It was unknown what would happen if we send a probe directly to UOO-1, but with no further investigative options, we decided on that course of action. Yu-Chang Wide Spectrum was launched 14 hours ago. It was the most expensive object we've ever put in LEO outside of the ISS itself and it flew a direct course to UOO-1. As expected, it changed orbit shortly before impact, Yu-Chang adjusted to match and UOO-1 made and impossible maneuver. We know of no material that could have survived such an acceleration, even solid steel would have rendered itself into molten slag subject to those forces. The moment Yu-Chang began its own course correction we lost contact. Six minutes later, we lost London as I'm sure you saw all over the news before boarding the Skyhawk. High-speed photography, as part of our nuclear war early warning systems, indicate the city was destroyed by a light-speed beam (most likely a laser) in the exa-watt range burrowing through the atmosphere, turning our own sky into super heated plasma and allowing it to detonate like an air-burst nuke. The resulting EMP should have only been powerful enough to knock out local electronics, not the worldwide shut down that's rendered most modern military technologies fried and useless. Why and how UOO-1 created this beam is unknown, but the immense heat has revealed some orbital anomalies in the IR-spectrum. We are currently investigating. Considering how quickly it went from a passive to an active agent, further London events are not out of the question and may happen again soon. The good news is that the nations of the world banded together over this event rather than starting World War 3. The bad news is that we are at war and know next to nothing about our enemy. This organization was created in 1957 shortly after the Iceland Incident (see attached briefing) and sadly has had very little funding since. Much of our equipment is obsolete by today's standards and while our budget has been massively increased as of this morning, we are no where near ready to take on the alien threat. You are in charge, commander. This is the only international cooperative and it may be humanity's final hope. What are your orders?
  13. ApolloZani

    In the Defence of Armour

    Two values: Armor threshold. Armor effectiveness. Armor threshold determines the amount of damage something has to do to actually do damage. Example: Pistol does 10 damage to 15-armor. Zero damage. Next pistol damage rolls 22. 22 damage. This lets you get those sweet sweet no-damage pop-ups, and if you go through the armor, you get to do damage. Getting to do damage is so much better than hitting 1s and 2s. Armor effectiveness provides %reduction after damage threshold. Gives all armor a minimum effect. Pistol rolls 22 damage to 50% effective armor. (22 * 0.5 =) 11 damage. Weapons can get a penetration value which directly negates the %reduction of armor effectiveness. Shotgun has 0-armor penetration. Rolls 80 damage against 50% armor. Does 40 damage. Sniper rifle has 40-armor penetration. Rolls 80 damage against 50% armor. (50% - 40% = 10%) Does 72 damage. Ablative armor is nice from both a realism and a gameplay perspective. Armor does lose its effectiveness when its beat up, but even shattered ceramic plates are better than nothing. Gameplay wise, it's nice when a stray shot doesn't put your guy in the hospital for a few weeks. I think the best solution here is to have a small HP shield on top of health. If you want more realism, you can say that this small shield directly adds to armor threshold and effectiveness until it's gone, ensuring that that armor stats show armor MINIMUM effectiveness. If you want easier to understand simplified, just say that it's additional unhealable HP on top of HP, under the armor system. All that said, I don't think an X-Com style game really needs an armor system the player can easily understand. It's a very random game with so many interacting systems that it's almost better if the player isn't given full information for how everything works. Just a general idea for how effective things are. This is more of a simulation and less of a game, a toy not a puzzle. A system that feels good is more important than one the player fully understands.
  14. ApolloZani

    So, who wants more cool aliens?

    Enemies don't need to be deadly gun toting soldiers to put the player on their toes and steal all their attention. The poisoned headcrab from Half-Life 2 can never kill you on its own, but temporarily putting you down to one health makes them scary enough that everyone drops everything to kill them first. An alien who covers the field in gas that can't kill you, but does make you a one-hitpoint wonder until a medpack comes along would do the trick. It would even make the rebreathers more useful. I don't think we really have any enemy that poisons you, come to think of it.. In Subnautica, the mezmer can technically never hurt a player who knows what they're doing, but they'll get everyone the first time with a pretty light show and some hallucinations. An alien that makes ghosts of itself where the ghosts never do real damage, go down in one shot, but essentially act as a demoralizing force that's surrounded your soldiers would be cool. At the start, you'd be wasting your shots, but accuracy boosting weapon's attachments could see right through the ghosts telling you which of that enemy you actually have to worry about seems like it'd be fun. They could even count as light sources in dark missions, giving some interesting interplay between keeping them around or not. Many horror games make use of the zombie who's actually two zombies. This one fits in well with the proposed damage location system, though might be harder to code. First two limbs to get shot off become their own enemy, though this might be a bit too close to the reapers/crysalids. Either that, or I'm just rehashing the best new enemy from XCOM2, the andromedon. Still, this is something that explosive kills would be great for. You'd always want to carry around a grenade because an explosive death means you don't have to deal with the enemy that just keeps being more enemies. The faceless were a good idea with a not very good execution. I've never really felt like civilians have had a proper place in these games since the original X-Com, where the lighting system and alien turns meant that seeing a shadow run past a window for two frames made you question if you just saw a human or needed to point your rocket launcher at a house. Even just having turned human agents with their own guns would be interesting, though perhaps this would make more sense in a mind control mission. "Australian soldier is under alien control!" A mindshield style armor accessory could double as a double-agent finder here. The tiny drone from Xenonauts 1 was super fun for me. They did chip damage, but sprayed out so many shots that it was a hilarious worry the first time around and fodder to be destroyed so you wouldn't get your poorly grouped up soldiers all suppressed. I wouldn't be surprised if there was already a plan to bring them back, but suppression is just a neat mechanic and there isn't really any other enemy designed to make use of it. People with plated vests don't get suppressed, but plain clothed rookies so want to get down. Specters were great enemies in XCOM2. They let you have all the fun fighting one of your own without having to worry about losing someone on your team. A enemy that waits for you to get close and uses its turn to copy someone on your team and run away for a future ambush. You have the opportunity to kill them first and, if not, you get the fun of seeing how good your armor and weapons really are. Ultimately, my favorite enemies in XCOM games have always been ones that pull out surprises. Everyone remembers their first cyberdisc explosion, that sectopod just keeps pulling abilities out of its hat, that zombie just turned into another crysalid. When there's something to learn about each alien, something that helps you beat them, it's just that much cooler.
  15. ApolloZani

    Xenonauts-2: The Geoscape

    I just came here to say how much I love the giant orbital laser. Playing the backer builds every now and then, just to see how things have changed and that zap, boom, city destroyed just came out of no where for me! It's a great big timer of, "this is what the player wants to stop." It's what the avatar project should have been in XCOM2. Something big and mean and fully understandable without any clear path to victory which makes just **want** to knab as much alien tech as you can as fast as you can. There will be no sitting around comfortably enduring the invasion day after day like in the end game of X-Com, there's skyfire to stop!