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[v1.5/XCE] Hold the Line! - A Morale and Psionics Mod

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Hold the Line! - A Morale and Psionics Mod

Features:

This mod changes the morale and psionics systems to make them both less random and arbitrary.

Morale Overhaul:

Morale has been reconceptualised as representing the strains and stresses of combat rather than sudden moments of shock. As such, rather than depleting and recovering quickly, it depletes more slowly but barely recovers at all. As such, over the course of a mission soldier's morale will tend to worsen, making them more vulnerable to psionic attack.

To account for this, the threshold for panicking has been lowered significantly. As such, soldiers will only panic once they have been worn down. Obviously, soldiers with higher bravery scores will endure for longer, making the more valuable as the game goes on.

Specific changes:

- Morale penalities for deaths have been reduced. Furthermore, the morale penalties for deaths caused by higher ranking officers have been flattened somewhat since having higher ranking soldiers doesn't generally mean having soldiers with higher morale.

- Morale recovery reduced to 3 points/turn. Also, a small amount of morale is gained from killing aliens (3 for the shooter; 1 for everyone else).

- Soldiers automatically panic if they are reduced to 9 morale or less, and recover 10 morale when they panic.

- To try and help bravery level a bit more, soldiers can earn up to +2 bravery per mission (if they panic more than once).

Psionics Overhaul:

The more powerful psionic abilities have been heavily nerfed in terms of their ability to affect soldiers. As such, they only have a reasonable chance of affecting soldiers who have had their morale severely depleted (morale of ~20 will have roughly even odds of success, depending on the alien and distance).

As a result of this change, the more powerful psionic abilities should only become significant during the latter stages of a mission, when soldiers' morale has been worn down by fighting and the Fear psionic power. Since skillful play will minimise morale damage taken over the course of a mission, these powers can potentially be negated.

Specific changes:

- The Fear power does less morale damage.

- All other powers have been reduced to 50% of their vanilla psionic strength.

- All powers also have a shorter effective range, which means that the strength of attacks will likely be lower the further soldiers are from the UFO/Command Room.

- Some changes to the psionic abilities used by different aliens.

- Different psionic attacks have different coloured animations.

Balance:

Note that I've not had chance to fully test this. I've tested the morale system and I think it works fine, but I've not had chance to see the effects on psionics much. As always, feedback is welcome.

Download:

Hold the Line!

Install Instructions:

To install, either:

1) Unpack the zip file into assets/mods; or

2) Install using the mod manager in the Xenonauts game launcher

Alternatively, for Steam users, you can install the mod via Steam Workshop.

However you install the mod, make sure you set it to 'active' in the mod manager.

Uninstall Instructions:

To uninstall, either:

1) Delete the mod's folder from assets/mods; or

2) Uninstall using the mod manager in the Xenonauts game launcher

If you installed using Steam Workshop, you should also unsubscribe from the mod (otherwise it will keep re-downloading). Note that simply unsubscribing from the mod will not delete it; you must also delete the mod using one of the above methods.

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I think you should allow some morale gains when killing aliens. This would make counter to psi panic attack.

Overall I think I will use this mod.

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I'd been against that as I wanted to avoid the situation you get in vanilla where all your soldiers have 99+ morale due to alien kills.

However, on reflection I think a small bonus should be ok. Moreover, it will provide a partial self-balancing mechanism for later missions, as the larger number of aliens will provide more bonus morale as well as more chances to lose it. As such, I've added it in and re-uploaded the mod.

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Funny, i thought game gave morale as default if you succeeded in killing an Alien, just not a lot. Didn`t realise you got nothing at all.

I might give this a try, getting a little tired of having my entire squad destroyed in early game because an Alien `unnerved` someone and he turns around and shoots his m8 in the face with a shotgun- AND keeps shooting the dead body afterwards!

I know they`re Aliens, I know it`s hard and scary, but killing your friends nearly every time? Although I hope it isn`t too nerfed.

Edited by Seafireliv

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Killing aliens in vanilla does give you morale. I'd originally decided to remove that for this mod, but silencer's comment made me rethink.

In terms of 'nerfing': in my experience, it's not so much nerfed as made more predictable. Most of the time, with this mod, you should know that your soldiers are vulnerable to panic or psionics because their morale will already be fairly depleted. So if you're low on morale for any reason (and especially when fighting higher level Caesans) you might be better off calling it quits and aborting rather than pressing ahead and getting destroyed by Berserk and Mind Control. (This all assuming the mod works as intended as regards psionics).

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Minor Update: The mod is now fully uses the mod-loader with XCE. Thought I had already sorted this to be honest, but apparently not.

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I've reached the Cruiser class UFOs and have met Caesan Leader. He tried few MC attacks I think, but with 99+ morale he wasn't even able to MC at close range (being in next room to the Command room). I don't know if it possible for him to know the morale state of the soldiers and first maybe weaken the morale with panic? Or maybe he doesn't have it? Strangely why I don't see Psions in UFOs larger than standard scouts?

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There's no psions because they're replaced by officers/leaders and there's a limit of 2 psions/mission which was instigated to avoid psi-spamming in vanilla. I suspect this mod would benefit from some more lower-level psionic aliens, though, as psi-spam shouldn't be nearly as powerful. Perhaps an extra psion in a Corvette (which already has an officer), two in a Landing Ship and Cruiser, and three in a Carrier and Battleship (removing an alien or two to compensate, non-coms if there are any). I'd be tempted to give Caesan officers berserk as well (since they apparently don't have it) as again it will normally be much less powerful than in vanilla.

Also, having just check it turns out that leaders don't have Fear like I thought they did. That probably doesn't help.

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Increasing TU costs for psi skills might reduce the spaming if you add few more psi aliens. Not that I want my soldier to be MC'ed, but that lone leader, might not be so successful on doing anything. His attacks begun, once I was breaching UFO.

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I'm honestly not sure whether the TU cost makes that much difference. All of the TU costs for psionic attacks are already very low; in theory the aliens could use them several times each turn but they don't.

I have a feeling that psionic attacks are limited to 1/turn at most. But even then it's fairly unusual - in my experience anyway - to suffer several attacks from the same alien across consecutive turns.

So, actually, I'm not sure any adjustment will be necessary. But we'll see. I'll put out a new version when 0.27 releases properly with a few more psionic aliens and a broader range of powers to see if it helps (I'm hoping the ufocontents files will be fully moddable then).

(I also need to check Fear properly. When I was testing this mod a while ago, it didn't feel like it was doing what it was supposed to be doing and the morale damage was a lot less than it should be.)

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I'm honestly not sure whether the TU cost makes that much difference. All of the TU costs for psionic attacks are already very low; in theory the aliens could use them several times each turn but they don't.

I have a feeling that psionic attacks are limited to 1/turn at most. But even then it's fairly unusual - in my experience anyway - to suffer several attacks from the same alien across consecutive turns.

So, actually, I'm not sure any adjustment will be necessary. But we'll see. I'll put out a new version when 0.27 releases properly with a few more psionic aliens and a broader range of powers to see if it helps (I'm hoping the ufocontents files will be fully moddable then).

(I also need to check Fear properly. When I was testing this mod a while ago, it didn't feel like it was doing what it was supposed to be doing and the morale damage was a lot less than it should be.)

Could it be something with the AI that causes it to only do one?

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It's quite possible. But that part of the AI code isn't accessible externally so there's no way to tell.

(For what it's worth, I actually don't mind AI units only being able to use a single psionic attack in a turn. I think that's actually a good way of limiting it without having to mess around with TU values. I'd like to know why they don't attack every turn, though. I'm wondering whether there's a random die-roll involved that determines if a unit will attempt a psionic attack on a turn.)

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Update! New version with a number of changes. Some of these changes were made a month ago and I can't remember all of them exactly but here's what I think has changed:

- Some adjustments to psionic strength and the strength of different attacks.

- Morale damage from fear increased to 50% but has been given a meaningful range penalty

- When soldiers recover morale after panicking they gain a +20 boost to make them more resilient against further morale damage and therefore to help against your units getting panic-locked on low morale

- NO base morale recovery. Soldiers now only recover morale for alien kills (individual and team) and this effect has been buffed a bit. (This was implemented to avoid an exploit where the player could wait for many turns to recover their morale; game mechanics that encourage boring things aren't good).

- Not 100% sure on this, but I think the morale boost for having a high level officer on a mission has been increased significantly (I suspect I may have doubled all of the officer bonuses, or close to it). This will make having a high ranking soldier more useful late-game against psionics.

- All Caesan UFOs/bases past Light Scout have had some additional psionic aliens added to them (generally psioncs) which have mostly replaced non coms.

- Due to nerfed effectiveness of high level psionic powers, psions and officers now get berserk and normal reapers get paralyse.

- All psionic attacks now have a different coloured swirl so you can tell what kind of attack was made against the soldier (I added this for debugging purposes, but thought it was cool so left it in). Yellow is fear; red is berserk; blue is paralyse; and purple is mind control.

I think that's it. It's all still a bit experimental, but my early game testing seems to imply that it works pretty well. Caesan missions now feel more flavoursome for starters, with psionics being obvious and while not overwhelming they're definitely capable of making a difference (lost a mission yesterday due to morale damage I'd taken during the course of a mission causing panic as soldiers died attempting to assault the UFO).

As always, feedback is welcome.

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Do reapers need paralyze? They are not Halucinoids :P And I see that Alphas also have paralyze and have more power than Caesan Leader?

Just a thought - maybe you should shuffle those psionic abilities between psion, officer and leader, so they would be more unique?

Edited by silencer

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Reaper Alphas always had paralyse. I just moved it down to Reapers as well. Since it's chance of success will be significantly less than in vanilla, I figured it was reasonable to bring it forwards (especially since you'll only ever encounter reapers with fear-using aliens at the same time when fighting against a Praetor).

Also, while the Reaper Alpha has more base power than a Caesan Leader, the Reaper Alpha only has Paralyse (which has a x0.3 power modifier) while the Leader has access to both Fear (x1.5) and Mind Control (x0.15). In other words, the base power doesn't mean much when you compare it to the power modifiers (the mind control attack on the Leader is significantly weaker than Reaper Alpha's paralyse but it's Fear power is very reliable and generally it will be attacking against lower morale soldiers than a Reaper Alpha will).

As for spread of powers - there's not really a lot to play around with. I guess I could give paralyse to psions rather than berserk since it's effect is weaker (no turn vs. spend turn wasting ammo and possibly shooting allies). But thematically I quite like having paralyse as a reaper-only ability since it fits well with their mode of attack.

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If Reaper Alphas had Paralyze then I never found them using it. And with my custom mod that increases aliens count (including reapers) even still not a single paralyze attack.

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Reaper Alphas definitely have it assigned to them. It's plausible its broken in some way so it doesn't work, though I've definitively seen paralyse used by a Caesan Officer in an old build of Xenonauts (back when psionics was just being made to work properly before release, I think).

In any case, it's no big loss if it's not working.

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I confirm reapers and reaperalphas do not use psionic attacks for some reason. I even gave them "fear" ability with huge range for test purpose, but the reaper just runned back and forth for several turns not far from my squad.

other than that, I seem to like the removal of "safety in numbers" feature. It unnecessary complicates morale management IMO, or if you don't keep it in mind result in "sudden" morale drops/increases

Edited by podbelski

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Thanks for checking that. Regarding the proximity morale bonus: yeah, it's not transparent enough in game to make it worth while I don't think and makes morale more confusing.

---

Having done a little more testing, I'm thinking of changing some things again. I think the fear power needs a nerf in terms of its chance to hit as it's a little to reliable at the moment. Though this is probably related, I'm thinking of reintroducing morale recovery at a rate of 5/turn. I'm finding at the moment that on the larger UFOs my soldiers are getting wrecked very quickly and pushing on with low morale is almost impossible. With some adjustments to the psionic power multipliers, though, I think it might be possible to have a fluid morale system which also allows for high-level powers only in low-morale situations.

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fwiw, my 1st playthrough settings were:

- 100 damage, 1.5 strengthModifier, large range for Fear attack

- 3 points per turn morale regeneration

- 3 for team/6 for the killer of the alien morale boost

- for every point below 20 there is +5% chance for a morale event

- 12/9/6 stabilisation for berserk/flee/panic (yes sometimes they panic for two turns in a row, and it's good)

other settings were very close or same to prev. version of your mod, the impression was like everything is balanced.

Now I restarted the game with 0 morale regen but lesser damage from Fear, but your post convince me it might be too tough... I think 5/turn is too much though

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