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Picking up from threads here, here from the old forums, here - where Chris mentions Anti-Psi gear, and here Why I liked them Unlocking the secrets of alien psionics was one of the most rewarding aspects of the original X-COM game. Not only did it open up a method of combat removed from standard weaponry, it involved nearly all aspects of the game. There were new facilities, a training regime, equipment manufacturing and research topics. They also gave the player a clear indication that they were now starting to fight the best of the aliens, if not on their own terms, at least in the same playing area. With months of training completed and equipment made, the first X-Com personnel tried to use their new powers on the enemy, failing as often as they succeeded. That first success was always a highlight of the game. There were also darker implications of the players use of psionics. The player was essentially beginning the approach that had resulted in the creation of the Sectoids and the shrivelled shells of the Ethereals. This connection was further linked through the chilling alien artefacts and the end of game message from the alien leader. So, a new dimension in gameplay supported by nearly every other element in the game. Sounds good. Except, that along with Blaster Launchers, it is considered to be the most overpowering and game breaking part of X-Com. Simply because X-Com, as they did with everything else, became every bit as good as the aliens in using their new abilities. So any reintroduction should be very concerned about maintaining game balance. Considerations Here is a list of balancing features & caveats that would peg back psionics to make players work very hard to get them and to keep them. Not every one of these should be implemented. But a balance reached to ensure that players cannot create whole squads of highly trained psionic Xenonauts and dispose of the rest. As of build 18.2 the economy is so closed that finding extra revenue for anything is already very difficult. - Aliens have lived with or are bred with psionic abilities. Humans will have much weaker abilities. - Humans should have a reduced chance to successfully use psionics, compared to the aliens. - Human psi is unpredictable. Success should not be guaranteed. - Psionic research should be time consuming - Psionic facilities should be expensive - Psionic equipment should be expensive and complex to manufacture. - Psi training should be undertaken over a considerable period to ensure that the soldier is capable of even minor success. - Xenonauts undergoing psionic training cannot be active in missions, as per other training. - Line of sight psionic abilities only for humans – with exception of location ability. No squad sight use or even proximity. - The TU %cost of using a psi-amp should be high. This eliminates the agents ability to perform reaction fire, or to target more than one foe. It also prevents the chances of improving other abilities through actions. It also poses a risk due to line of sight attacks only. The agent may not be able to use the psi amp and return neatly to cover. - Abilities require the use of a psi-amp or other psychotronic technology. - No mind control should be available for humans. - At least one alien race should be psi immune and all constructs will be too. - A Xenonaut can’t carry both offensive and defensive psionic equipment. - Psychotronic charges in lieu of there being a Psi-Skill/ Strength stat. - Xenonauts with psionic ability are actually more susceptible to psionic control -Loss of stats having to go through surgery for Psionic Implant - Powered by the morale (even health) of your own team. - No psionic screening. So, no mass removal of soldiers with poor psi stats. There are no psi stats. - After being the target of X alien psionic attacks, the soldier is stunned. This prevents the aliens constantly spamming the same soldier and the Xenonauts perhaps using this to create Psinks to always be on the receiving end of any alien attack, while the other soldiers can get on with the mission. How they could work in game Equipped like a weapon/ item. Use pistol animations for Psychotron and medi-kit ones for Mind Probe & Mind Shield. Options within each device can be accessed as per the current quick slot grenade system. Effects can be drawn either from existing weapons or form similar alien psionic effects. Requirements Weapon: Psychotron. Device for amplifying a Xenonaut’s psionic ability for attack. Facility: Psi-training (could be combined with laboratory/ in assets training facility) Little effects pics for quick slots Equipment: Mind Probe Equipment: Mind Shield Training Regime: Psionics Research & Manufacturing alterations as below. Research & Manufacturing Links Sectoid Vivisection ®> Psionic Weaponry ®> Psi Lab (F) &Mind Probe (M) Sectoid Leader Vivisection ® > Mind Shield (M) Ethereal Vivisection ® > Psychotrons ® > Psychotrons (M) Key ® - Research Topic, (M) Manufacturing, (F) Facility Notes: EU1994 aliens used above to prevent spoilers Psi Lab training will be for at least 20 days as it also involves a psionic implant. Possible Abilities At this stage in development, it’s easier to use assets that are already in place. That will lead to comments of “well, this only replicates what’s already there.” However, to create anything new will probably mean that there’s much less chance of seeing anything at all. The list of possible abilities is just that. Possible abilities. Some may be a little too powerful, some not powerful enough to be useful. But hopefully, they show a range of things from which a selection could be made. They have been grouped to the relevant device, but this is very flexible. Psi Amp (Generally Ranged Offensive) TK - Explode target square as per grenade effects Pyrokinesis – Use Psi Amp to create flame on target square. Cryokinesis OP?– a one turn stun on opponents. Doubt – increases suppression of already suppressed targets Luminakinesis – create a zone of light around target square. Levitate – as per Buzzard effects Levitate Other – as per Buzzard but to target Xenonaut (not alien) Psi-Shield (Defensive) Mind Shield – Use mind shield and decrease effectiveness of alien psionics. Dull Senses – Use Psi amp to reduce chances of triggering reaction fire. No reduction in alien TUs.~ Invisibility – turns Xenonaut into just a shadow, reducing chances for aliens to see her. Intangibility – shots go through the Xenonaut Resistance – increase resistance to damage of target unit for a turn. Velocity – increase TUs of psionic for 1 turn Focus – Increase accuracy of psionic for 1 turn Cloud Minds – Create FOW pocket around psionic. Psi-Probe (Ranged Passive) Rally – Increase morale of target Xenonaut in mission. Useful in the event of panicking soldiers. Psychic Healing – Self repair or heal others Stasis – effectively stun severely wounded Xenonaut before they bleed out. Locate Life – Detect all units in an area Locate Enemy – detect all enemy units within an area Pathfind – track path of target for X turns Identify – Identifies rank/ possibly health of target. Nudge – Move civilian a square in any direction. Drain – drains % power (ammo) from laser/ plasma and SPOILER weaponry Remote Viewing – increase line of sight of psionic for 1 turn. This possibly could be a tile that is X away from where the Xenonaut is standing, meaning that they couldn’t simply see past the edge of the FOW , but a more distant tile. Blink – teleport X squares away. Notes: The abilities have been selected so that they do not have any direct control over enemy units, who are far more powerful psionics. Psionics in the cold war Just to finish off, here are a few points about why mind control and other psychic abilities were considered during the cold war. These aren’t to be taken in isolation. They should be considered against a backdrop of almost Orwellian paranoia mixed in with equal measures of corruption, showmanship, disinformation, power without oversight and greed. Psychic research fits nicely alongside the likes of laser weapon research and advanced, reverse engineered aircraft at the time of the original release of Enemy Unknown. They fit just as nicely in with the world around the cold war Xenonauts. Based on dubious intelligence reports, the US became involved with, and needless to say kept funding, research in this area. Project Sun Streak, later Star Gate reportedly received some $20 million. Star Gate, followed research conducted at the Stanford Research Institute and focused on clairvoyance, remote viewing and precognition. Supposed successes were predicting submarine launches, hostage releases and attacks on a ship. The project ran through the 1970s, well past the time frame of Xenonauts, and didn’t close until the mid 1990s. On the other side of the iron curtain the release of Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain in 1970, detailing apparent research into this area by the Soviet Union led towards an arms race of sorts. Likewise the first international psychotronics meeting in Prague in 1973, also sparked concerns that the Soviet union were developing methods of using technology to induce a variety of psychic effects. Of particular interest to the DEA were the generators of Robert Pavlita. X-Com Psi-Amps are derived from these devices. This psychic arms race isn’t an isolated one during the cold war. It’s a continuation of the MKUltra “behavioural modification of humans” experiments that ran from 1953 through wars in Korea and Vietnam, to their “official halting” in 1973, costing unknown millions. Experiments on often unwitting subjects were broad, and a variety of methods or whatever methods deemed necessary were used. Induced panic, irrational rage (going beserk) and the other key element of X-Com psionics, mind control, has its roots here. Perhaps more tangentially, MK Ultra used a lot of information retrieved from the subjects of Project Paperclip: Scientists recruited from German forces of WWII to assist in research in the US. Perhaps the “master race” of mind controlling aliens has darker roots, yet ones that are even closer to home.
So after some reading of old post, I understand that the player isn't going to get psychic powers in Xenonauts, which is fine for balance reasons, as I get that such an ability can prove gamebreaking considering the focus on tactical combat of the game. However, there is an implementation of "taking control" of other non xenonaut units that I think would make sense and improve the game quite a bit. Basically, in order to increase the tactical ability of your squad, I think it would be incredibly useful to be able to order civilians around during battle zones. Essentially, what would happen is when you select a xenonaut and you move your cursor over nearby civilian (there would have to be a "speaking range" where the civilian can hear your selected 'naut) instead of a targeting cursor, you get a little speech bubble cursor and a percentage of success. If you click on it, you expend TU to tell the civilian what to do for that round, and you get temporary control of said civilian. This would allow for our 'nauts to do things like escort civilians to safer locations, and more importantly, to safely get them out of the line of fire or move them into a position so a medic can heal them if they are injured and bleeding. However it would be at major costs and be tricky. Namely, ordering a civilian would take a LOT, if not ALL of a Xenonaut's TU, so you're effectively sacrificing one character's movement/use to puppet another one. Secondly, it wouldn't always work, because civvies are panicked and running around like scared chickens when aliens are about. So there would have to be a success check, ideally between the bravery of the 'naut doing the ordering, and the civilian being ordered. Something like having a ratio where the Xenonaut's bravery must be 50 - 100% over the civilian's in order to have a moderate chance of success, and at 150% over the civilians, it's a strong chance, while at 200%, it's an almost guaranteed success (for this theoretical exercise, I assume the civilians all have very low bravery values). Civilians would also lose bravery just on sight of alien forces, and so could easily panic and lose control anyway, so it can be a lost cause. Also, while they aren't armed, they should have the ability to "hunker down" and hold position unless further ordered, so you can essentially put them in a spot that seems safe (like insider your chinook). Additionally, I'm assuming that local forces have higher bravery values than normal civvies, so it should be very low chance that the player can take control of armed civilians (Though still possible in certain situations). Again, the big advantage of this proposed feature is that the player can get a bit more tactical control of the battlefield vis a vis the civilian population. Also, it does just sort of make sense. I mean, I understand people freaking out when ET is lasering up their city with superheated plasma, but when the cavalry arrives, most people will listen to the higher authority and do what they say in order to save their own necks. It's not a 100% thing of course (hence not making it automatic) but it is something that could prove eminently useful in lots of tight spots. Because really, wouldn't it just be nice to tell a civvie to "GET DOWN!" so you could fire at the alien behind him? I know I think it would be.