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Battlefield Illumination (suggestion collection)


Dagar

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In X1 we essentially had four light sources in night missions:

  • scenery lights like lamp posts
  • the inherent flash lights of our troops (their illuminated vision cones)
  • flares
  • head lights of vehicles

I'd like to see this system expanded a bit, as it essentially slowed down the pace of the game in X1 compared to daytime missions (because you would throw flares around one round, then advance in the next).

  • low-light amplifier - a piece of head/eye wear for a soldier, giving him good sight in darker areas, but none in light regions (as the light amplification tends to overcast the surroundings of bright objects)
  • thermal imaging glasses - same slot, portrays surroundings in false colours, but some aliens (e.g. the reptilian sebillians) are invisible to the user. Might show gas and heat pipelines through walls, whatever this might be useful for (blowing stuff up, obviously...)
  • signal pistol - a secondary weapon that can illuminate a big part of the battlefield this round and can be fired indirectly over obstacles, and a smaller one next round, and then dies. Short life and big area compared to flares, maybe even a chance to stun enemies with big, night time adjusted eyes
  • portable floodlight - a rather heavy utility item that must be placed down by a soldier and then illuminates a bigger part of the map compared to flash lights. As it runs on batteries, only limited use time.
  • Some Psi vision system - reveals the location of living things, but not what they are. Civilians and Aliens as well as the type of Alien cannot be seen (something like a blue blob on the battlefield)

For some of these to work, the blind fire system needs to be reworked - in X1 a soldier could fire at a tile with an alien with the direct aim function, even though he could not see the alien. Either this needs to be made impossible (or one soldier with low-light amplifier essentially provides the same bonus for every comrade) or weakened in terms of accuracy. Suppressing fire could still work to a degree.

Any other idea you can come up with?

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Night vision goggles are just low light amplifiers, usually. And they come with the drawback of what I already stated in the original post, at least at the time the game is set in.

Also, if we did that, night missions would not play differently from daytime missions (at least if I interpret your post right). Instead of scrapping another system I'd rather see the mechanisms fleshed out.

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I'd have to disagree with Sheepy here. I loved night missions and the light mechanic. I almost made a mod with constant night and reapers everywhere, alien zombie apocalypse style. Obviously there was no point in doing night missions; there was often little urgency to drop at night and even less benefit from doing so. But I liked the way it made you creep about and the impact it had on your tactics - even if that tactic was, in a pinch, to torch a field of corn because you needed eyes on everywhere. To follow on from what you're saying Dagar, maybe a device which gave out a single very bright flash, illuminating the map for an instant (less than a turn), so you could get a vague idea if enemies were in range but no specifics.

To take it further, there could be a special class of aliens that operated at night, kinda like reaper-vampires or something equally terror-like, which were less capable in the day but more effective in the dark. You'd have to fight them with light as much as conventional weapons, so 'fleshing out' the mechanic. Equivalently, the light could offer a positive effect to civilians on the map, encouraging them to move to safer, well-lit, areas.

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I agree that the proposals are interesting and may make for some interesting tactics, but I believe that X-2 (or at least the direction we are heading to) is not capable of supporting a sufficiently differentiated night combat mechanism.

  1. Head slot introduces micromanagement.  I can think of NVG, Infrared, Sunglass (day bonus), Psi-shield, gas mask, wide vision helm.  Even if we ignore that half of them steal variations away from armours, now imagine swapping everyone's head gear before every mission depending on time and enemies.
     
  2. We can expand the vision system, to create more sensors and keep the armours distinguished.  Chris proposed motion scanner.  Afterlight has normal vision, night vision, infrared, em sense, psi sense.  Can also have heartbeat sensor. Each armour of each enemies has different signatures and texture in each system.  Not a small task.  An unarmored sebillian should not trigger em sense, but should it be hotter or cooler?
     
  3. Ends up the players just mix the sensors; as soon as anyone spots an enemy, squadsight makes sure everyone can shot it.  The direct senses does not end up adding much to the game.  The indirect senses are more interesting, but if you put them in an under-contested slot (the reason to create many visions), that's mostly just another squadsight sensor.
     
  4. Removing or weakening squadsight makes the aim even more complicated, requires adjusting of weapons, and amplify gear micromanagement, because you'd want the attacker to remove that infrared goggles before shooting that infrared invisible enemy.
     
  5. Should that "flash of light" gives players who have a big monitor (sees a bigger field) or a good dynamic vision some meta game advantage?  It does not fit the idea of the "pure" turn based game.
     
  6. Signal pistol and floodlight are new items and new mechanics specialised for night mission (micromanagement).  Have something works differently on the map is more complicated than adding a slot and adjusting spot distance.  Code for a mission type that players avoid.
     
  7. Which includes AI.  Should the alien be smart enough to grenade the floodlight? (after making sure destroying the floodlight will immediately stop the light, another piece of code.)  Should the civilian be smart enough to know the brightly lit area is safe and is not the Xenonauts burning the whole field in a fighting retreat?  How?
     
  8. Light as a weapon does not mean much as we have quick and unlimited flare.  Which the consensus is it's a good design.  And before it is being proposed, special aliens that require special equipment to dealt with may become a spike that force players to start a new game, instead of allowing them to catch up.  For example if they come in a base defence mission.  (Not flare. I mean like an infrared/floodlight visible Alien.)
     
  9. With a turn-based geoscape, should the game popup a box and ask you "Day mission or night mission"?  If it is random, it is not only a lack of choice but a choice that is replaced by a forced penalty.
     

If we remove the night missions - like Apocalypse and XCOM 2 did - we will have consistent vision, we can drop the unlimited & featherlight flares, we can drop the whole light subsystem, and we should see less night combat confusion.

We can still have "time of day", done my adjusting lighting.  As long as the battlefield is reasonably illuminated, it'd allow some variations while dropping rarely used mechanics (that the players need to know).

 

What would make a night mission more interesting?

How about a shadow system, that bring light source into most or every mission by shrouding tunnels, windowless rooms, dark alley, and have darkness generating alien (phoenix point style) - instead of adding to the night, bring the night to the day!  But this actually does not change much of the game.  You need to get closer to he alley or flare the beast, but ultimately that's exactly what it accomplish - make you use night tactic in the day.  By itself it does not make night more fun, but may give other changes a border application.

Perhaps we can introduce sound system and removing the sight advantage of aliens - i.e. Jagged Alliance?  Something does not require special equipment to work, functional day and night, and work better at night for various reasons.  This is obviously useful in indoor, independent from the night, and is being hinted at in an alternate form known as the motion scanner.

The sound system can even be expanded to a full stealth system where you may gain or lost the sensory advantage, but stealth is unlikely to help with ufo and base assault, and how to implement stealthy weapons is another big question.  Not to mention not very xcom.

 

So at the end I think we should just scrap the night missions.  Any other ideas?

 

Edited by Sheepy
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A simple change might just be for us to make flares give much more light, but only for a certain number of turns. That would minimise the number of them you actually have to throw each turn but retain some of the night feel.

I do like the fundamental idea of night missions; they add a good amount of variety to the game. Ideally though the aliens should also have the same night blindness as your guys do, otherwise they're always a negative thing ... it'd be much better if it were preferable to fight certain aliens at night.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think this ties in with another post talking about the amount of information you have prior to taking on a mission. If you know that the mission will have a large Andron presence who all have low light vision and are practically unaffected by the dark then you could consider waiting to engage during the day to negate their advantage. However if Ceasan eyes were less adapted to the dark than humans, or Sebillians became more sluggish at night due to being cold blooded or whatever then you may want to consider a night assault on those species, especially if you can attack by surprise with an equipment loadout designed to take advantage of this.

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10 hours ago, Gauddlike said:

Sebillians become more sluggish at night due to being cold blooded

If I recall correctly, the "Community Edition" of "Xenonauts 1" actually made it so that you could blind Sebillians with "incendiary Grenades", since they were unaffected by "smoke".

So maybe instead of just having drawbacks or advantages, it could be a "plus-minus"-situations.

E.G. Sebillians indeed slower and seeing far better during night due being cold-blooded and having natural heat-vision.
And during daytime faster movement, but maybe worse sight depending on the heat-sources (incendiary and other sudden high-heat-sources could possibly temporarily stun Sebillians or cause other effects related to spotting and accuracy).

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