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Max_Caine

In X2, will killing be more a means to an end than the end in itself?

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In X1 I did a lot of killing. By and large, killing was the end goal. Got a Terror site? Kill everything. Splashed a UFO? Kill everything. Base is under attack? Kill everything. Will it be the same in X2, or will killing be more the means to an end, rather than the end in itself? Will there be objectives?  (Such as take and hold, steal/raid, destroy X, rescue Y etc.). Will killing be sometimes more selective or under certain constraints? (Assassinate X, Kill Y in Z time limit, Kill X until Z time limit has passed, etc.). 

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It's kinda difficult to answer this question. Ideally we do want to make killing a means to an end rather than an end in itself (at least in certain types of mission), but it's kinda difficult to know how well it will work. The more fluid missions in games like XCOM are aided by the fact they have a simpler combat system where turns are faster; I'm not actually completely sure if a hit-and-run mission would be fun to play with our combat rules - it must just feel like a bit of a time-consuming drag because you've got to hit the objective and then get all the way back to the dropship. I don't know if a better way to approach is just to make the killing more varied, or to add more "soft" time limits to certain missions so the experience feels different.

That said, there's already a number of alternate victory conditions already implemented and functioning in the game - so it genuinely is a question of what the gameplay testing says, rather than a question of coder time. We've got functioning VIP Assassination mission, VIP rescue missions and Capture Supplies missions already and they support achieving the mission and then evacing at the dropship, but they also support victory by wiping out the enemy forces. 

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the more i think about it the more it seems that killing everything would be the easiest way to complete a mission, unless there was some non-lore friendly arbitrary constraints. unless of course aliens can spawn on the map in the middle of a fight. that way you could have say a terror mission and instead of killing all the aliens and being done you would have to take a control room to get the city defenses back up to stop reinforcements, then clear out remaining forces or leave them for the local forces to deal with.

you could have a rescue VIP mission in which every X number of turns more reinforcements come from off the map to stop you from getting to the VIP, so getting the VIP and getting out of there would be the only way to really win.

there could be a mission in which you have to destroy a certain device, but since it is important aliens constantly reinforce the defenders and thus you have to fight your way to the device, and killing everything will just spawn more aliens.

as for downed UFOs, the score at the end if you held the UFO instead of killing them penalized you for every living alien, if this wasn't a thing then it would make such just as viable. though getting rid of that score altogether would be a mistake as it rewarded you more for tougher missions, which is important.

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The 'kill everything' approach is just so inelegant. I get that that is a bit of a theatrical criticism but I find that the strategies for 'kill everything' tend towards repetitiveness - especially on harder difficulties when breaching the final rooms of downed UFOs. I did really like that if you held certain map locations, it had consequent effects. That was new and interesting, also it made clearing up less tedious. Further, it plays into the fundamental tactical element: positioning. Xenonauts, as opposed to XCOM, allows you to bring a large contingent of soldiers on a mission and supports non-linear map layouts. Having [alternate] objectives which require positioning soldiers on multiple squares in different areas of the map is something that only Xenonauts can do.

On almost any mission it is expected that you split up your squad into many smaller fire-teams. A mission design which required you to carry out several tasks simultaneously would add an interesting pressure. Those tasks don't even need to be ground-breaking, the ingredients are already there: explore map regions, destroy an object, clear and occupy a space, defend an area, protect the NPCs, stun an enemy, use a medkit on a character, recover an item, or retreat to the dropship. Essentially, it would be making the standard missions just a bit less standard.

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On 2/8/2018 at 3:16 AM, Ninothree said:

...Xenonauts, as opposed to XCOM, allows you to bring a large contingent of soldiers on a mission and supports non-linear map layouts...

no. the first two of the three XCOM original games had you bring 14 soldiers, more than X1. the third is a bit more complicated as the vehicles are modular in design, so the main transport has a default of 8 passenger space with the capability to have an additional 12, though cargo space is a separate module, so you probably want to only add an additional 8, until you need to start capturing aliens and then you'll swap out passenger space for a bio containment module, reducing the extra PAX to 4 (12 total). you can repurpose the transport into a heavy weapons platform as well when you don't need it to be a transporter.

the new XCOM games are different enough to not really be in the same vein as the originals, in fact the third game wasn't considered to be a true sequel by die hard fans back in the day.

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Yeah, by XCOM not allowing you large troop counts I was referring to the Firaxis version, I should've specified. In XCom Apocalypse I seem to remember you could bring tons of soldiers because you could use multiple vehicles to transport them to a building. At least, that was what I remember. My point was that Apocalypse was the same vein as the original two and Xenonauts, that the maps had a lot more of an exploratory feel to them, rather than the Firaxis maps which feel quite like a progression - not that either one style is better or worse, but that Xenonauts 2 could exploit that difference.

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Speaking of XCOM Apocalypse, I spent more time playing that than the two first ones combined because the combat system was so much nicer than the turn based TU system. For those who liked TU, they could play it like the first two ones. If there are plans of remaking Apocalypse or a Xenonaut version I will sell my kidney to help fund it. Even just Xcom/Xenonauts 1 remake with the apocalypse combat system is worth a kidney. TU turn base/live action split system to please everyone, of course.

V.

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8 hours ago, Vaulander said:

Speaking of XCOM Apocalypse, I spent more time playing that than the two first ones combined because the combat system was so much nicer than the turn based TU system. For those who liked TU, they could play it like the first two ones. If there are plans of remaking Apocalypse or a Xenonaut version I will sell my kidney to help fund it. Even just Xcom/Xenonauts 1 remake with the apocalypse combat system is worth a kidney. TU turn base/live action split system to please everyone, of course.

V.

Trust me - it's hard enough to make the Xenonauts combat system just once, using TU :)

Making the game using a real-time combat engine would probably be just as hard, but if you're trying to do both at the same time and then keep them in sync in terms of code and game balance (I believe Apoc let you switch between the modes at will?)... well, I imagine it'll be a lot more than twice the work of just a TU combat system.

For that reason I think it's a little beyond our capabilities - from our point of view it's best to concentrate on doing one thing and doing it as well as we can!

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Apoc would do 36 soldier IIRC: 6 squads of 6. You could use as many vehicles as you had to bring them there, or they could walk. And you had to select TB or RT at the start of the mission- RT being easy to cheese because all of the projectiles moved stupidly slow and you could dodge the laser beams while firing a hail of poison paintballs back.

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Also you could use the teleporter to dodge missiles, plant grenades, then teleport again in less than a second of real-time combat. Fun but maybe not particularly balanced. Getting back to the original point of the thread - Apocalypse hardly branched out from the 'kill everything' approach in missions (though you could stun/loot human factions, save non-combatants and destroy map structures). Like most games in the genre, missions were mostly sweep and clear. I feel that its reprieve was the immersive strategy layer: a city of individual buildings that gradually became infested with aliens. Since that half of the game felt like a living ecosystem, it wasn't simply a means to generate ground combat missions. There is an interplay between the two, if they're both quite static the overall gameplay gets stagnant. The MO of kill everything is a lot less dull if it exists in an interesting framework.

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i think you hit the nail on the head. a kill sweep makes things easy if the strategy and lore are about killing the enemy. if things are a complex machine, then tweaking something may bring about a greater result than just trying to kill everything. once killing becomes not feasible or not desired things have to become more creative. the problem i see is that in traditional XCOM you are fending off an alien invasion, and thus trying to prevent your machine from getting tweaked rather than disrupting another's. so either the battlescape needs to become a small section of a larger battlefield in which reinforcements just keep coming (and thus killing won't work), or you need to do subterfuge (which is rather silly given how all the important bits of the enemy is out of reach in space). in apocalypse you were going to tweak the machine to undo damage the aliens did tweaking it, unless you were playing another faction, in which case you would be infiltrating and doing the initial tweaking. too bad it was cut short. though i am not sure it would still have the same feel if the main game was not going against aliens doing 'clean sweeps' for most of the game.

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Another idea in the line of VIP Rescue missions is that of small-scale terror sites such as rescue a crash landed airliner, rescue a wrecked ferry on a desert and isolated coastline, rescue a besieged military facility or a lab...

  1. They would provide new map themes on top of the usual Xeno-1 "UFO Landed" maps.
  2. They would be quite the same as some of those Xeno-1 maps, where bases, labs or workshops are featured, except there wouldn't be any UFO to be retrieved, and the map theme would be more detailed (featuring a large ship, a large plane, a large facility with bunker).
  3. An added victory condition would be to abandon the mission with (say) 80% of non-Xeno surviving people in the evac zone (a larger zone than the transport itself).

This means that you would have a way to lead survivors towards the (starting) evac zone, or a special UI button or an actionable device (a radio or a flare) to call for evacuation when everybody is herded in a relatively safe area in the middle of the map. Then the site would be air struck as per the current Xeno-1 option.

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