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Ogilvy the Astronomer

Mission Types and Secondary Objectives

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Hi all,

I’ve started this thread to flag up something I feel is being overlooked in current discussions about improvements to the game. More Mission Types and Secondary Objectives have been mentioned before but don’t seem to be getting the attention they deserve.

More Mission Types and Secondary Objectives seem to me to be a (relatively!) simple way of adding a huge amount of variety to the game – far moreso than new tilesets, which Chris has explained are “EXTREMELY time consuming and expensive to make – they’re the most expensive component of the game by some distance.”

Here are some ideas for what could be new Missions or Secondary Objectives. These have been taken from other threads and aren’t all my own ideas – I’m not trying to plagiarise :P


  • Defend a landmark.
    Capture alien leader.
    Assassinate alien leader.
    Escort VIP (e.g. politician, scientist) to exfiltration area.
    Destroy alien transmission beacon.
    Rescue downed pilot (not necessarily your own).
    Free prisoners.
    Rescue local soldiers under attack by aliens.
    Defend supplies.
    Clear command post of all aliens.
    Activate Surface to Air missile site via panel in control room.
    Rescue hostage.
    Carry wounded civilian back to your chopper.
    Retrieve information local agents have compiled about aliens.
    Destroy alien mind-control device causing humans to fight you (once destroyed, the humans could turn into allies).
    Eliminate cultists (humans working for the aliens).

The rewards for these could be as varied as deemed appropriate. Examples include:


  • Improving end of round score.
    Improving relations with a particular country.
    Cash bonus.
    Stash of equipment (e.g. 10 packs of C4 or equivalent).
    New Xenonaut.
    Unique weapon (maybe just an existing one but with slightly improved stats to avoid new artwork).
    Revealing location of alien base.
    Research boost.
    Temporary manufacturing time reduction.

I freely admit that I don’t know much about programming or the ways in which games like Xenonauts are made, but here are some justifications I believe to be accurate:

  • Most of these would need little if any new graphics, which seem to be the most expensive aspect of production. I could well be wrong about that, of course!
    They’d add a significant amount of replayability to the game, and make each mission far more interesting. Especially if some Secondary Objectives are revealed mid-mission as you stumble across them.
    It’s genuine variety in gameplay and not just largely superficial changes, as tilesets essentially are.
    They could add to the whole feeling of immersion in the Xenonauts world; making small-scale battlefield decisions that impact the global war.
    More decision-making would be required by the player: do you order one of your valuable troops to take an injured civilian back to the chopper, thereby increasing your reputation with that country, but losing him for the next few turns when the aliens are about to counter-attack and he’s needed on the frontline?

They seem like such brilliant things to include, it’s puzzling why they’re not high on the wish-list. It’s likely that I’m missing something, like the actual scale of the task from a programming perspective, but aren’t things like Kickstarter designed to raise funds to make these sorts of things a reality?

All thoughts on this matter are much appreciated!

Edited by Ogilvy the Astronomer
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I'm baffled about this too... How come those side/secondary missions weren't included in the poll?

I believe it's because they're gonna be in the game since ever

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  • Defend a landmark.

    Capture alien leader.

    Assassinate alien leader.

    Escort VIP (e.g. politician, scientist) to exfiltration area.

    Destroy alien transmission beacon.

    Rescue downed pilot (not necessarily your own).

    Free prisoners.

    Rescue local soldiers under attack by aliens.

    Defend supplies.

    Clear command post of all aliens.

    Activate Surface to Air missile site via panel in control room.

    Rescue hostage.

    Carry wounded civilian back to your chopper.

    Retrieve information local agents have compiled about aliens.

    Destroy alien mind-control device causing humans to fight you (once destroyed, the humans could turn into allies).

The rewards for these could be as varied as deemed appropriate. Examples include:

  • Improving end of round score.

    Improving relations with a particular country.

    Cash bonus.

    Stash of equipment (e.g. 10 packs of C4 or equivalent).

    New Xenonaut.

    Unique weapon (maybe just an existing one but with slightly improved stats to avoid new artwork).

    Revealing location of alien base.

    Research boost.

    Temporary manufacturing time reduction.

They seem like such brilliant things to include, it’s puzzling why they’re not high on the wish-list. It’s likely that I’m missing something, like the actual scale of the task from a programming perspective, but aren’t things like Kickstarter designed to raise funds to make these sorts of things a reality?

All thoughts on this matter are much appreciated!

Just a few comments. While I like a few of these.

Defend a landmark - Why? How does this help us not being wiped out? Sacrificing men for meaningless real estate, winning just by attrition would be a poor tactic.

Escort VIP - Politicians are useless, and would cause an upheaval from other funding nations. I can get scientists or other persons that would directly help the Xenonauts.

Activate surface to air missile - This goal seems a bit simple. Another function of said command panel, with more a more worthwhile agenda would be needed.

Carry wounded civilians to chopper - This would be extremely tedious, unless it's tied into the escort/rescue missions.

Retrieve information - Don't they have a fax machine? I guess the lines are dead. Again, plugs into escort/rescue.

Some of these require new tilesets, but a lot would just need some specific AI. A lot are variations of the same thing, so should be the same mission with random text about what this one is about.

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I like to have a lot of different missions, so I approve this.

One thing I wanted to comment; although I agree with you IceVamp, the VIP doesn't need to be a politician. It could be an important scientist or a chief worker who need to go to another location for X reason. This, now that I think about it, could give you a laboratory/workshop boost or free scientists/workers.

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Just a few comments. While I like a few of these.

Defend a landmark - Why? How does this help us not being wiped out? Sacrificing men for meaningless real estate, winning just by attrition would be a poor tactic.

Escort VIP - Politicians are useless, and would cause an upheaval from other funding nations. I can get scientists or other persons that would directly help the Xenonauts.

Activate surface to air missile - This goal seems a bit simple. Another function of said command panel, with more a more worthwhile agenda would be needed.

Carry wounded civilians to chopper - This would be extremely tedious, unless it's tied into the escort/rescue missions.

Retrieve information - Don't they have a fax machine? I guess the lines are dead. Again, plugs into escort/rescue.

Some of these require new tilesets, but a lot would just need some specific AI. A lot are variations of the same thing, so should be the same mission with random text about what this one is about.

Good points. Defending landmarks and protecting VIPs would be the equivalent of a propaganda victory, showing your funders that you can protect them.

The SAM missile is just an example. As you suggest, the control panel could be linked to anything. Or, to expand the missile idea, if you don't activate it then the aliens can land reinfocements -- maybe another two or three bug-eyed monsters trying to kill you.

I don't think carrying people to a chopper would be tedious. But thinking about it, it could be if your soldier was a long way away. Maybe that objective could only happen if they're within a reasonable distance.

The specifics of an information retrieval mission could be ironed out. Maybe it's a camera with film in it, hence not being able to fax. Or sensitive information that Xenonauts don't want broadcast. Basically the game mechanic would be "pick up item". The wording around it could be almost anything. A very simple thing, but would add another element.

Regarding the AI, if the mission was something like getting a VIP to an exfiltration point, the VIP could be player controlled. That neatly avoids all AI issues and adds more tactical options.

Edited by Ogilvy the Astronomer

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A lot of those missions sound too typical, but I think it's a matter of presentation. This type of game is best with emergent goals chosen by the player.

You're the supreme commander of the Xenonauts, not just a grunt, meaning that no one's going to tell you to kidnap X or acquire Y or activate Z-- instead, it fits better to have opportunities that present themselves, and you choose how to take advantage of them.

It's not as complicated as it sounds. For example, say you discover the location of an alien base. It's up to you whether you want to send in a team loaded with stun grenades and shocksticks (capture as many as you can for intel, high risk), a tactical team to carefully defeat the enemy (an operation focused purely on retrieving technology, moderate risk), or a slash-and-burn team with rocket launchers and heavy weaponry to annihilate the alien scum with extreme prejudice (an operation to take the base down ASAP with maximum chance of success).

All they need to do is give us a diverse range of tools, and sufficient feedback mechanisms / goals to motivate us to use different tactics depending on the situation and our intent. It really helps playability and replayability to be able to pursue goals in different orders and at our own pace.

For instance, there might be a particular type of alien from which you can get a useful, optional piece of research from, but only if you capture one of their scientists or leaders. So suddenly you see a sufficiently large UFO or base of that race. You realize they're going to have a scientist or leader aboard, so if you want that research it suddenly changes the context of the operation. It's not just another bug hunt, your main goal is now to capture that scientist. No one stepped down from on high to tell you to do this, it's just an opportunity that you're canny enough to realize and now it's up to you to go for it or not. That, to me, seems more in the spirit of what makes this type of game special.

I would like to see new mission types and scenarios as well, I'm just putting in my two cents about how I'd prefer to see them implemented. I think player agency is really important, and having abstract goals foisted onto you would spoil it a little.

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True, although the larger-scale mechanic you've described was present in the original X-Com, and missions in that got repetitive. The same can be said of UFO: Extraterrestrials. Xenonauts should have more variety than that, and secondary objectives could fit the bill.

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Retrieving information could easily be 'prevent aliens from getting their hands on information' to be more themey. Have them tucked in some building and the 'nauts could burn them or something.

Landmark could be a key infrastructural building. Like a hospital with lots of civilians inside. Or a backup generator attached to the said hospital. Certain types of factories could also be really important, like weapons/munitions factories. Or oil refineries/silos. And power plants.

Edited by Kaguya

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Retrieving information could easily be 'prevent aliens from getting their hands on information' to be more themey. Have them tucked in some building and the 'nauts could burn them or something.

Landmark could be a key infrastructural building. Like a hospital with lots of civilians inside. Or a backup generator attached to the said hospital. Certain types of factories could also be really important, like weapons/munitions factories. Or oil refineries/silos. And power plants.

Good thinking on all counts :D

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This is one of the things I'd like to be added most. Complete support for this!

I think it would be quite appropriate for those types of missions to show up later in a campaign when the aliens already have set up bases and you are dealing with a full blown invasion (i.e. including ground forces).

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I would rather have alternate victory conditions (like capturing the UFO instead of killing all aliens for example) instead of new mission types. Protecting VIPs and guarding stuff gets boring quick.

Edited by Gorzahg

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I would rather have alternate victory conditions (like capturing the UFO instead of killing all aliens for example) instead of new mission types. Protecting VIPs and guarding stuff gets boring quick.

Could we suggest any more alternate victory conditions?

I think that protecting VIPs and guarding objectives could get boring if overused -- but that's the same with any mission objective, including "kill all aliens or hold the UFO for five turns". Hence my desire for a much greater range of objectives.

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I think these are really great ideas, but as others have pointed out they could get tedious very quickly. I'd say that most would be really good as secondary missions in normal missions. IE. Aliens terrorise city; Primary objective: eliminate aliens; Bonus object: Protect famous/important/previously unknown/whatever landmark from being destroyed. If you complete the bonus objective then you get a funding or relations boost, if not then no big-deal. It would add a bit of variety to normal missions. Also, it would add a bit of story to missions. Like if you're defending a city against a terror attack and protecting a VIP... well presumably the two are connected.

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I'm hopeing for something along the lines of a primary (but alternative) objective to destroy an alien artefact with a secondary objective to capture (kill all aliens or control for 5 turns without destroying) it.

I'd love for a secondary objective to b to incapacitate all civvies and keep them alive while completing the mission. That would be incase of hostile civvies (ie mindcontrolled), and I'm not sure that is going to be a feature.

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Yeaaaaah, every mission type gets boring if repeated too much hence why its nice when you have tons of them to sometimes have. Though its not good if you have so many mission types that you will never see some of them.

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I agree - but I'd add, the alien AI needs to clearly trying to accomplish missions of their own, which you are interfering with.

Perhaps they want to blow up Stongehenge, or the Great Pyramid, as evidence of their presence? We stop them or fail. Cool stuff like that. So much more interesting than endless 'terror raids'.

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I think missions that make you jump are welcome. Base defense is perfect example. Anyone else jump when they were attacked in XCOM?! I thought I was safe in my base but noooo!

The way Firaxis is already telling fans what missions you will carry out would spoil the surprises. I hope Xenonauts has new missions for us, but without telling us would be great, just like keeping the alien list secret lol!

SHHHH!!

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Great ideas!

For example saving VIP politician mission can be launched if some country is going to sign agreement with aliens. It is realistical, that not all members of the government will support such idea, and so this exact polititian is from pro-X-COM eeeerm, sorry I mean pro-Xenonauts political group :-). And saving him will increase chances, that country will not sign with aliens and will keep funding you.

In this mission, not only Aliens, but AI human soldiers can be your enemys. There also can be a chance, that they will use some Earth's armor against you too.

Another idea of the offered "Destroy alien transmission beacon" type sutiation. My English is bad so I try to put it simple. In some more or less random point of the game (but not too early) a player see that there are more of UFOs are flying near some of his base (increased UFO activity). Sure he trys to intercept them. Some interceptions are end with normal air battle. But during others, when fighter approach UFO, the UFO just disappear (false UFOs). Than, by patroling the area or from other sources it is revealed, that there is a Alien Electronic Warfare Station, that is sending false signals to your radars in the region.

You may want to destroy that station or live with those false UFO. For example that station is having relatively small guard, but after, say, 20 moves alien reinforcement will arrive.

Escorting VIP - there also can be an air ascort. You need to pass some slow, vulnerable aircraft from on point to another and defend it from som UFOs that try to intercept it. The game can give you a window, say from 1 to 5 october. I the given period you need to find the moment when your fighters are repaired, not busy and so on. When ready you can send some fighters in the region, give your clearence for VIP plane to take off. Failure condition - is that if VIP plane is not tailed by X fighter and reached by UFO - than it is lost. Victory - when VIP get to the destination. When VIP plane is tailed by X-fighter and is reached by UFO - then aierial battle is started. If players fighters are destroyed and UFO survive, then mission is lost. If VIPs route is long enough, than you need to coordinate fighters from different base.

Edited by Xenophob

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any variety is good as long as it is optional or dynamic within the campaign. it would get ridiculous if you couldn't progress because you weren't prepared for a certain kind of mission.

in one of the silent storm games, early on, there was a story mission where you had to defuse bombs within a time limit. It was easily impossible and if you weren't careful with saves required a restart. In XCOM you could totally pooch most missions and still recover.

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You're the supreme commander of the Xenonauts, not just a grunt, meaning that no one's going to tell you to kidnap X or acquire Y or activate Z-- instead, it fits better to have opportunities that present themselves, and you choose how to take advantage of them.

You mean aside from your superiors to whom you depend on for funding?

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