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Yvn01

Make both site playable

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I think it can be interesting and fun to make the both site playable i mean be able to play alien that invade or xenonauts that defend.

This opportunity will make the invasion more logic and realistic.

I mean the alien cant start with a limiter mother ship that need to do some builbing actions to be able to construct a big invasion gateway.

It will explain why the invasion is in many steps.

The gateway will be feeded every year (we can explain the gateway need an alignment with the sun for the stability of the link) with new equipment ship and or troups depending of the size of it.

This yearly massive feed is too short for a good invasion it also explain why alien need to create ground bases and make some political alliances.

the first step is for the alien to scan the planet to find the ressources with small ship to harvest to get the ressources to construct a bigger invasion gateway.

When the scan is done missions to start harvesting will start.

Some recherche can also start to study the population (so alien need to collect some specimens) of the invaded planet to request more efficient invasion equipment and ship and aliens etc...

The alien waves can be explained due to the increase of the invasion gateway size.

Of course creating ground bases can be more efficient to securise deeper important harvesting zone for the invader. etc...

We can also think of political missions from alien to government (after study the population to known at least the language) to attempt to get peacefully the needed resources :) (Black ops spy missions) (and counter political missions perform by xenonauts to keep the nation in xenonauts influence).

It's just an idea :)

this dual side play can also allow multi player if needed :) one or many playing alien and others playing xenonauts or why not, nation that try to face the menace alone or in cooperation with xenonauts.

 

Edited by Yvn01
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Adding squad on squad multiplayer/solo with switchable sides should be relatively easy (UI might need some changes) because, fundamentally, aliens play by the same rules as your troops. But adding a campaign sounds like a lot of work, so I'm not so sure - maybe a DLC? ;)

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DLC,Why not :)

but if new content add new gameplay we can also introduce in a second DLC the next step the xenonots that will use the gateway capured to invade the alien plannet of the other side to securise the gateway in both side for a long time peace. and invert the game :)

 

It's for this it's important that tech give just new damage type not more damage.

I mean armor should have weakness against certains type of damage bullet or plasma or ecm etc.

Technology will open the possibility tu use new damage type.

So the technology impact will be ballanced.

at the first step alien have not a lot of bullet armor but quickly they will change their plasma armor to bullets then they will regulary try to counter xenonauts weapons etc... so at all type all weapons will be interesting and never obsoletes.

 

Edited by Yvn01

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I have no idea how this would be implemented, but an X-Com game where you play as the bad guys -- either aliens invading Earth or humans invading some other planet -- has been a dream of mine for a long time.

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Alternate reasons for slow alien growth:

- The harvesting missions produce raw bio-products that have to be refined into products to wake up and feed your crews.

- Everything is being brought back online after the most recent jump.

- The alien leaders are waking from cryosleep and can only control so many missions per month.

- Resources from the asteroid belt are generated slowly; only from earth missions are the needed elements readily available.

- Alien leaders are too busy binge-watching Earth TV to make reasonable decisions about how to invade Earth.

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While playing as the alien invasion would be fun as a "what if", I think the truth is, for most players, it wouldn't be very challenging.

I mean, if the human (played by the computer) never shot your ufo's down, or killed your aliens to capture your tech, their tech tree would not improve much. They would have more beginning resources than you...but if you were to play realistically, the alien invasion seems to have near limitless resources to throw at you when you're the player... so having that ability as an alien player would be ridiculous. If you mod that out to make the game challenging...then you lose credibility to be the invading aliens... then you lose the feeling of the game.

 

You'd also start with a ridiculous tech advantage that would make the game absurdly easy, especially if computer defender faction was limited the same way a player defender is... and if it wasn't, well, then you'd question why you don't get those resources and abilities as a player. For balance, you'd have to be inconsistent. But if you're inconsistent, then the setting fundamentally changes, and with it, the game. 

Like a possible balance would be letting the computer defender have more troop[s on a mission (a wave of 24-32 xenonauts... entire platoons, rather than squads). But then as a player, you're limited to sending 1 Chinook with 1 squad, rather than a wing with 24-32 soldiers...so inconsistent and unfair and changes the styles and feel of the game. 

I can see the appeal...I just think it would either be too easy, or else, require so many changes as to make the setting and background of the game seem completely different to the point of being an entirely different and new game. 

 

But that's just my thoughts and opinions.

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i don't think too many people are old enough to have played xcom apocalypse back in the day, but this was the idea that they shot for. financial issues meant that everything but the xcom side had to be scrapped. the inner politics of the earth side made the xcom faction weaker than the aliens, and while the aliens had a good deal of resources, getting their forces to earth was a bit of an issue. the idea was that the aliens were inter dimensional aliens attack from a different dimension, so they had to only send a transport or two at a time, and they had to learn how to travel and operate in our dimension better in order to be a bigger threat. working with certain factions and corrupting others was how you were supposed to defeat xcom. of course xcom wasn't your only opponent as well, so you were outnumbered. in fact any faction you were going to play was going to be outnumbered, and have some sort of edge over the other factions. there is some talk that phoenix point (https://phoenixpoint.info/) is going to try and do that again (sort of) from the same creator.

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This is not a good idea, and is the subject matter for a completely different game. I don't want the games resources used for MP and or a diluted game.

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It's certainly a cool idea, however, the gameplay would be so incredibly different that they'd have almost no use of the assets made for Xenonauts except for character models and maps. Everything else would have to be different and they'd need to essentially create a whole new game with an appropriate difficulty curve where the Xenonauts gradually stepped up the difficulty and started assaulting your mothership or boarding your transports.

If anything should be made with this concept, I'd rather have it be a separate game or a full priced expansion at least. Otherwise it'll not really be worth the immense time it will take to make it possible. Unless of course they make the gamemode very simple, which would make it feel sloppy and rushed.

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5 hours ago, DaReaperZ said:

It's certainly a cool idea, however, the gameplay would be so incredibly different that they'd have almost no use of the assets made for Xenonauts except for character models and maps. Everything else would have to be different and they'd need to essentially create a whole new game with an appropriate difficulty curve where the Xenonauts gradually stepped up the difficulty and started assaulting your mothership or boarding your transports.

How so? In my mind, assets would be quite the same or re-usable, except for all the base background pictures, xenopedia texts, and research and production tree. As well, there would be need for big pictures and fully animated alien models, and another strategic layer called "Spacescape". Xeno would grow more or less steadily, as if played by a human player. On the other side, the Alien campaign, background story, and incentives could be much different.

They could have flown from a devastated world with only a limited fleet and resources, spacecraft (not 7,000!), and manpower. Their "mothership" could have crashed on the Moon, beyond all repairs, and lay grounded as a base. Think about beginning a game with 3 Praetors, 30 Wraiths, 100 Harridans, 600 Caesans (100 psionnic-able), and 600 Sebillians. Each fighter, each scout destroyed would mean 1-6 casualties! They could be deprived from very advanced heavy bio-technologies, and not be able to produce any more elite/high rank/officer troops, only robotic units and lesser clones, and that would be hardly enough to face late game Xenonauts. They could even have a limited power source, or a sickness requiring terran biomaterials, and thus a count-down timer (win Earth or die out on an asteroid). There are several way to either make them thriving for their very existence, or being only incredibly "feeble" at the beginning of the game.

Player actions would be oriented toward resource gathering (planets, asteroid belt, power stations), bio-harvest on Earth, study of this strange bipedal species, subversion (diplomatic) operations, conversion of some priced spacecraft for atmospheric travel/fight, design of better suits weapons, atmospheric aircraft, and perhaps cheap bio-units. That would explain why he can't brutally invade a first world country and harvest openly everything he needs.

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You'd have to turn a lot of the game mechanics on their head. You'd start with the advanced tech so research would be a much smaller part of the game. Instead, it would be more about developing your potential to send more and stronger waves of attackers to Earth. So base building and research would swap in terms of their importance. Also, you wouldn't be training your soldiers up to higher ranks but sending them to their deaths with the intention of doing as much damage as possible on the way. Combat would be less about xp and research artifacts, and more about grinding down humanity one farmer at a time.

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Not necessarily if you had limited resources and manpower, if you were no gods, and if you play a parallel story of Xenonauts-2's.

Earthen atmosphere is highly toxic and you have to research how to stop fighting in cumbersome spacesuits. Also, a wounded is a dead.

Earthen ecosystems is a nightmare for bio-engineered creatures who haven't seen a virus for millennia.

You need to kill (abduct) hundreds of people to conduct intelligence and research projects, and yet you can't afford to loose a squadron of your precious spacecraft per mission. First missions are thus necessarily stealth and small scale.

Your home world is so exotic that you can't use your spaceborne weapons in in/through the atmosphere, and even your hand held weapons react badly when fired in this atmosphere (particle beams?).

Your are few in numbers, and they keep sending several platoons at you (well 20 special operatives or so).

In short, researches have to be conducted in various fields such as weapons (including studying human weapons), aircraft, animals, plants, and microbiology, human societies, mindset and language...

And yes, your priority is to build bases because Earth is your only hope.

I agree that the RPG part of ranking soldiers could be minimal... unless you put aside the fact that aliens in Xenonauts seem to be designed in rigid casts (at least for Caesans), and until your run out of your original crew, and have to complement/replace it thanks to a new species you managed to engineer, though not so experimented. Some stats though could be increased by original troops mission after mission: a kind of empathy/lore for humanity, or a survival skill, to reflect that veterans fight better than unaware crewmen, the development of psionic capabilities, and perhaps also strength/fitness (for a low-gravity / spaceborne species).

That said, I agree that a plain interchange (flip) of sides, in the same settings and story than Xenonauts would have little interest. But I still think that the difference would rely more on the writings than on the assets and game mechanisms to make an interesting "other side" game, so that much of the game could be reused.

 

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On 17/04/2017 at 1:03 PM, Puciek said:

Adding squad on squad multiplayer/solo with switchable sides should be relatively easy (UI might need some changes) because, fundamentally, aliens play by the same rules as your troops. But adding a campaign sounds like a lot of work, so I'm not so sure - maybe a DLC? ;)

Having a multiplayer aliens vs xcom option (separate from the campaign) would be interesting and breathe a lot of new life into the game. Aside from that, I don't really see playing the aliens as a campaign working out: lets be honest, the only reason it's possible to win as Xenonauts is because human player > AI.

It would be really interesting to see a MP though, I suspect people would figure out the "best" tactics pretty early on. Balancing the alien tech for MP would be very different than balancing for the AI-controlled aliens.
Imagine if you could control Reapers: who wouldn't just lurk in narrow corridors waiting for some Xenonauts to come by? :D:D

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On 2018-03-14 at 2:12 PM, Rodmar18 said:

How so? In my mind, assets would be quite the same or re-usable, except for all the base background pictures, xenopedia texts, and research and production tree. As well, there would be need for big pictures and fully animated alien models, and another strategic layer called "Spacescape". Xeno would grow more or less steadily, as if played by a human player. On the other side, the Alien campaign, background story, and incentives could be much different.

They could have flown from a devastated world with only a limited fleet and resources, spacecraft (not 7,000!), and manpower. Their "mothership" could have crashed on the Moon, beyond all repairs, and lay grounded as a base. Think about beginning a game with 3 Praetors, 30 Wraiths, 100 Harridans, 600 Caesans (100 psionnic-able), and 600 Sebillians. Each fighter, each scout destroyed would mean 1-6 casualties! They could be deprived from very advanced heavy bio-technologies, and not be able to produce any more elite/high rank/officer troops, only robotic units and lesser clones, and that would be hardly enough to face late game Xenonauts. They could even have a limited power source, or a sickness requiring terran biomaterials, and thus a count-down timer (win Earth or die out on an asteroid). There are several way to either make them thriving for their very existence, or being only incredibly "feeble" at the beginning of the game.

Player actions would be oriented toward resource gathering (planets, asteroid belt, power stations), bio-harvest on Earth, study of this strange bipedal species, subversion (diplomatic) operations, conversion of some priced spacecraft for atmospheric travel/fight, design of better suits weapons, atmospheric aircraft, and perhaps cheap bio-units. That would explain why he can't brutally invade a first world country and harvest openly everything he needs.

Well for starters you'd probably need to make new models for aliens wearing armors, unless you would plan on having just the alien varieties that will exist in the Xenonauts part of the game. Indeed, the "spacescape" interface would need to be created, a lot of alien artwork, as well as possible new weapon types for the aliens (otherwise you'd have no progression, just plasma throughout the entire game). What I meant by a lot of assets being un-usable was simply that you couldn't use any of the current interfaces for Xenonaut base management. A lot of the artwork would also be un-usable. Another thing I just thought of, the battle maps would also have to make more sense. I assume that you couldn't just have Earth shoot down your craft and then initiate a ground battle. Instead you'd have to have some kind of a target, which means these maps out in the desert or arctic wouldn't make sense for you to attack. Logically speaking it'd make more sense to attack a village or city, maybe even just a farm.

Your ideas aren't bad at all, however as I'm sure you could imagine, a lot of work would have to be placed into balancing and even creating this new mode. Whether the aliens are weak due to sickness, or small exploration craft are just now reaching Earth, it's going to take a lot of work to perfect this entirely new game mode. In that game mode I think the initial enemies would have to be Earth militiaries, ground vehicles and all. And only at the ending stages would you face the Elite Xenonauts with more high-tech equipment. As many pointed out, the technology researching would be harder to make a substantial tree. As I said, your ideas of better atmospheric craft, weapons or suits would be a few options. Though it wouldn't be a big fleshed out tree.

Gathering resources would be alright, though there wouldn't be any battles happening in the asteroid field or foreign planets I assume, abduction is probably the best way to have some kind of limit, you need to abduct more people in order to unlock more technology, weapons or fighters. Like a new type of combatant more suited to survival in Earth's atmosphere, though I have a hard time imagining a race of aliens capable of bio-engineering a shock trooper who can't take a bit of bacteria or viruses, seeing as they're expected to go into foreign territory.

Another idea would be to have two different races or sides of aliens vying for control over Earth, struggling to create clandestine bases on the surface and trying to prevent eachother from performing certain missions. However, as I said, in my opinion this would be more fitting for an entirely new game since it's a whole new game mode where not a lot is reusable aside from a few graphical assets and the combat base structure.

Something similar to how UFO Aftershock could work for the aliens as well.

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Thanks for the development. I understand that things might be more complex than just writing, and that gaming experiences would (have to) be much different. As many game aspects would differ, it wouldn't be in my mind a simple "Play Humans / Play Zergs" choice on the main menu, but perhaps at least, all the Ground Combat aspects could be added (more a graphic work I think and limited scripting, with big pictures of weapons and Aliens, inventory, etc), so that a "Play Humans / Play Zergs" option for Skirmish mode would already be included in the released version (or as a DLC to earn some welcomed money, but I consider that all should be ready at release time). Lovers for Skirmish modes wouldn't complain about having limited technology, maps or diversity: they would simply access all the items designed in the Human campaign.

Then only, a campaign on the Alien side could be envisioned, or at least a mod-friendly environment prepared, with all sorts of placeholders and "hooks" for fan coders to insert their own scripts and graphic models (watch for "locked" code designs: each time an object is created, same object should be created for the other side, etc). Of course, if Goldhawk go for such a DLC or addon (I still can't calling it a third full game), any new GC asset eventually designed for this campaign, including new map tiles and designs (with landed UFO), would benefit the already working Skirmish mode.

Edited by Rodmar18
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A skirmish mode would be really cool, and as someone mentioned above a simple multiplayer with Aliens against Xenonauts would be awesome as well!

I definitely think it's possible to make an Alien campaign, and I agree, if it is done it should be a paid DLC because of all the work. :)

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The thing I want the most would be for other players to control the aliens when you play missions in single-player, for extra challenge :).

 

Also agree an alien campaign would be cool, strange that no one's done that considering how incredibly many X-Com clones there are. I suppose the goal of the campaign would be to sway all the countries in the world to your side or something before the humans accomplish all their main objectives.

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17 hours ago, Safe-Keeper said:

The thing I want the most would be for other players to control the aliens when you play missions in single-player, for extra challenge :).

That is a great idea. Of course, like all games with drop-in multiplayer, like Far Cry, it would be dead in a matter of months. But friends could arrange to meet eachother. I think it would be great, challenging, fun. 

Would the alien player choose where to deploy? or would all his units start in the ship, and sally forth? This would be the more realistic setting, if the Xenonaut team arrived rapidly at the crashsite. 

Ah the delicious reapers ambushes. The Harridan snipers positioning. It would rock.

 

edit: the alien campaign would also be a great addition. I think it should be harder than the Xenonauts side. 

The aliens should be penalized for each casualty and equipment left behind - this accelerates Xenonaut research, increasing difficulty. At the same time, attacks should be done to bring in hostages and cows. Maybe hostages, civilian or otherwise, could be mutated into new units, as the aliens seem to adopt dominated races into their roster. Also, just like in the standard game, the higher the terror, the more susceptible a country is to submission; this would give a strategic depth to the game.

I'm thinking of the zerg campaign in Starcraft 2, which I haven't played. I know you choose how your units evolve, depending on your playstyle. This could be adopted.

edit 2: what would be Earth's defense at the start of the alien campaign? No Xenonauts unit, for a tutorial? One Xenonaut base, and future bases popping up days later, or do they start with numerous bases already? 

This Alien campaign thing could be a very complex endeavor. Would you send a ship to terrorize a rural village, for a quick round of hostages, or a major city hub, with better protection, but also with a better show of terror?

Edited by apostrophefz

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We're not planning any sort of multiplayer or alien campaign until we've released the game and we're looking at DLC options - and sadly even then it's rather unlikely. There's an immense amount of work required for multiplayer functionality even if the game code supports it at the fundamental level (which I believe ours does), and I'm really not sure the game mechanics and campaign structure would work that well if you're playing as the aliens ... although admittedly I've never given it that much thought. 

So maybe you'll be able to tempt me into some kind of alien campaign DLC post-release, but I'm not even going to consider it until then :) 

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17 hours ago, Chris said:

So maybe you'll be able to tempt me into some kind of alien campaign DLC post-release, but I'm not even going to consider it until then :) 

A (laughbly) simple idea, would be to basicly reverse the game as it is:

- Randomize the Earth's, or better, Mars' geography;

- The proud, and desperate, people of Mars have designated you for the defense against the alien forces (in later interrogations, you'll discover they call themselves Homo Sapiens). So you set your first base, according to the regions you want to better protect;

- Take a look at your initial troops: volunteer Caesans, conscripted Sebillians, one or two spare Drones, and equip them to your liking;

- Radar contact! Enemy expeditionary ship in bound! You go intercept it with available assets at the time (http://xenonauts.wikia.com/wiki/Fighter);

- You send your team in a Light Scout ship to check the crashsite

- and so it goes.

Beyond this, the greater challenge would be to come up with an interesting technological progression. The classic logic should remain: the enemy is superior, and you race to catch up. Maybe, in this universe, the humans went from ballistic straight to the superior MAG weaponry. So you, as alien, go from the basic Plasma, to MAG and ultimately to... I have no idea what could be beyond that.

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6 hours ago, apostrophefz said:

A (laughbly) simple idea, would be to basicly reverse the game as it is:

<snip>

 It'd certainly be much easier to essentially texture swap Earth into Mars and the Xenonauts into the Alien Defence Force or whatever, but I think it'd miss the fundamental opportunity that comes doing an alien campaign - which is that you're actually getting to invade Earth while playing a massively superior species. Finding yourself hugely outnumbered by the primitive locals and having to beat them before they manage to steal and reverse-engineer enough of your stuff to defeat you is a pretty neat idea, particularly if you can come up with plausible reasons why the aliens choose to attack Earth in a piecemeal way that actually gives the Earthlings a chance of victory...

But whether it would actually be fun to play as a game, I don't know - would it be challenging to fight massive hordes of humans in every mission, or would it just be boring? Conceptually it's a nice idea but ultimately I don't know whether it would be enjoyable in practice.

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16 hours ago, Chris said:

 It'd certainly be much easier to essentially texture swap Earth into Mars and the Xenonauts into the Alien Defence Force or whatever, but I think it'd miss the fundamental opportunity that comes doing an alien campaign - which is that you're actually getting to invade Earth while playing a massively superior species. Finding yourself hugely outnumbered by the primitive locals and having to beat them before they manage to steal and reverse-engineer enough of your stuff to defeat you is a pretty neat idea, particularly if you can come up with plausible reasons why the aliens choose to attack Earth in a piecemeal way that actually gives the Earthlings a chance of victory...

Great to see that you're heart's in it =)

Quote

particularly if you can come up with plausible reasons why the aliens choose to attack Earth in a piecemeal way that actually gives the Earthlings a chance of victory...

The cycle of empires is to rise and fall. Maybe, the terrifying alien invasion of Earth is actually a last ditch expansion into our solar system for that one campaign that will heal the empire, or so is the High Council's desperate bet. Faster than Light fuel is terribly low, food reserves are scarce, and the warrior castes are getting power hungry with the apparent frailty. 

Quote

But whether it would actually be fun to play as a game, I don't know - would it be challenging to fight massive hordes of humans in every mission, or would it just be boring? Conceptually it's a nice idea but ultimately I don't know whether it would be enjoyable in practice.

Right. 

A vulgar suggestion would be to discriminate Earth forces by their nationalities. The year is 1979. The US and Soviet Forces would be the most capable foes, in war and research. Powerful tanks, Special forces - and armed civilians in Texas lol. Now, to invade, say, developing countries (not ruled by the military) would be far easier. 

One ludonarrative sound way to explain the alien tech progression could be internal procedure. It is protocol to first send expediotionary and raiding parties, so that must be followed. Elite forces are out of your reach, for now, depending on your results.

Hell, you can go very far from here. Include a political mechanic, where you must choose which parties of the alien organization you want to favor. 

You could find inspiration in Mass Effect lore of its races and apply it to the vast variety of alien races. Eg, the Sebillians (maybe like the Aztecs) grow through combat performance; The Caesans get a buff in unit cohesion and hierarchy (they seem officer-like to me heh);  Wraiths (based on the interrogation record) couldn't control themselves being in the defensive, and could berserk if surrounded by contacts; Reapers are basically rabid beasts and should be tamed from time to time; also they reproduce via destruction: if the commander chooses to employ them, victims MUST be made available, or the reapers will claim their own; Harridans, being dumb puppets, wouldn't fare well in groups, a two-way distaste between both parts.

You can write a book on Xenology with the basis Xenonauts provided =)

 

edit: ponderings on this post. While playing as the Xenonauts, we find success through unity (of the ideologically diverse peoples of Earth), victory despite huge differences; as the Aliens, the player will experience difficulty because on their own diversity. This makes for interesting gameplay, but I don't like the implications of this, in the current cultural political scenery we're in. I, speaking as a person, ultimately think diversity is good. Maybe the ultimate theme of the alien campaign would be that FORCED diversity, towards an immoral objective, is set to fail.

Edited by apostrophefz
ponderings

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If playing as the aliens were to be done, then it would require a shift in presentation. XCOM: Long War and Long War 2 feature the hordes and large-scale warfare suggested in this thread. The lesson they teach is it's not that interesting to grind through hordes for the sake of grinding through hordes. Long War made the horde aspect interesting by tying it to a mission objective and depersonalizing the hordes, making them less an opponent and more a barrier to mission completion. Many of the guerrilla ops missions are better done out by sneaking around past the numerous patrols instead of trying to tear a hole through them. Most of the defense and extraction missions use the hordes as a delaying and distraction tactic to pull the player away from the mission goal.

Even then, while it might be immediately satisfying for a few missions to 1-shot several platoons, a game needs satisfying opponents and easy-to-kill humans aren't going to make the grade. Xenonauts thrives on challenge, so the ante would have to be upped  I believe you'd need to feature armoured vehicles - armoured cars, IFVs evens tanks because it's easy for the human mind to grasp the potency of an armoured vehicle and treat it as a threat. The imagery of tanks in particular is saturated with steel behemoths spewing fire and thunder as they smash everything in their path, so the first time an alien player sees a tank it;s going to be a woah! moment. Fighting vehicles in combination with human soldiers could create a challenging environment, as armoured vehicles have the firepower to smush alien troops that human soliders can't, but tanks don't have the eyes or the presence soldiers do. 

Then as even as fighting vehicles becomes passe, one might graduate from fighting armoured vehicles to fighting the Xenonauts themselves, who are armed with all the exotica that you might expect - lasers, magnetic accelerators, power armoured suits... The game goes from a technologically superior army clearing out the hordes to a mirror match, where the technological edge the alien player has is slipping away and the player has to satisfy his goals before the Xenonauts either reach parity or go beyond parity. 

Against the need to be able to up the ante, one must also consider the underlying gameplay tropes of Xenonauts. Xenonauts is fundamentally a small unit skirmish game, where the player starts with a little and must acquire the resources necessary to progress and to grow. W If you want to be supreme commander of an invasion then the scope of the game switches to a wargame rather than a skirmish-level game, with massive resources to hand and the allocation of armies, rather than squads. How could you represent small unit skirmishes when the player i architect of an invasion? One answer would be to take a leaf from Imperium Galatica and make someone else the supreme commander. Push the player down the ranks. Make him the equivalent of a lower ranking officer. Something sufficiently high to make the player stand out, but not something so high they they have command of significant resources. Say, perhaps the equivalent of a Captain of a ship, They start off with low grade tasking (tutorial) but as the player becomes more successful, the player is given a greater mandate and access to better resources, just like Imperium Galatica so the feel of building and growing on the strategy level is maintained, while the small-unit skirmish aspect is maintained as the Captain only has access to a fairly small contingent of marines.  

 

EDIT:

 

The World War and Colonisation trilogies consider an alien invasion of earth which starts off successfully, then begins to fail. The aliens make some fundamental errors while fighting their war which leads to the semi failure of the invasion. The alien invasion in Xenonauts might feature the top brass making key errors as well so the invasion starts off smoothly, but these errors cost the aliens resources and territory and instead of recognising the problems the top brass double down on their "invincible strategy". The actual arc of the game may be the realization that the if the top brass are left in power, the invasion will fail so the player goes from a lowly captain to finally ousting the supreme commander in a political coup to save the invasion.

 

EDIT 2.

 

An example of such an error might be that the invasion force might not be an invasion force. Perhaps Earth is mislabeled a vassal planet which hasn't paid its tribute. The force which arrives is designed to scare the population into paying up, and when the being in charge realises this is virgin territory, it orders an invasion so it can carve out it's own little piece of heaven. While the alien force is far ahead of the technological curve, they don't have the resources the supreme commander thinks they do and this becomes painfully clear when a mysterious human organisation starts shooting precious ships out of the sky and running off with their technology. 

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