Jump to content
Chris

Xenonauts-2: The Geoscape

Recommended Posts

geoscape2.png.459059599965d5ad91b262a7739dece5.png

The Geoscape is the central command and control screen of Xenonauts-2. It is here that the war against the aliens unfolds, with aliens units and UFOs appearing on the map and you assigning your limited number of aircraft and soldiers to defend the funding regions of the world as best you can. This thread explains a number of the new systems that we've added to make the experience substantially deeper and more complex than the equivalent in X1, but given that the systems for the Geoscape and your main base are linked closely together you should also read the corresponding thread about ATLAS Base.

Our overall objective with these Geoscape changes was to empower the player and give them more strategic choices during a campaign. The first Xenonauts essentially has just one viable Geoscape strategy (rushing interceptor coverage), whereas hopefully this post will illustrate that the sequel is giving you far more options to play with!

These are the systems covered:

 

DEFCON System:

Our first major change was to give the game player a thematically appropriate loss condition. The DEFCON counter represents how close the world is to nuclear war, and if it ever hits zero then the aliens have successfully triggered World War 3 and you lose the game.

The DEFCON counter moves down by one when you lose a funding region or fail to deal with a terror site, and it goes up by one when you complete a "DEFCON Mission". This is a new type of ground mission that can only be attempted in the US or the Soviet Union and involves capturing / killing a warmongering local military officer so that someone more level-headed can take over. Successfully removing the VIP lowers global tension but also inflicts a relations penalty in the local region. If the mission turns into a bloodbath, this relations penalty can be rather severe - but if you've been using non-lethal weapons it is far lower. We'll be adding some additional stun weapons to the tech tree so you can go the non-lethal route if you want to!

This is a pretty simple system but it works well to communicate how close the player is to losing the game at any given time, and also to cut short games where the player is losing badly - it's definitely a big improvement over the rather opaque loss conditions of the first Xenonauts!

 

Threat Meter:

The second new system represents the other loss condition - having your base destroyed by the aliens. The Threat Bar starts at 0 and runs all the way up to 100, and an alien attack against ATLAS base is triggered once it fills up. Hostile actions against the aliens (e.g. shooting down a UFO) generate Threat, but the aliens that attack your base are the same irrespective of how far into the game the attack(s) occur. Triggering the first attack close to the start of the game makes for a very difficult fight; managing to evade detection until you have some advanced equipment and better base defences means that the same aliens will be much less threatening.

This concept represents the aliens being having limited forces available and being primarily interested in their own objectives rather than hunting you down. However, the more you interfere with their plans - and the more blatantly you do so - the greater the chance of them diverting resources to wiping your out (as happened to CENTRAL Base at the start of the game). The player can passively manage Threat by carefully choosing what missions to take / UFOs to shoot down, as some of them are not immediately threatening and can be ignored if Threat is dangerously high.  

The second can also burn off Threat directly - a field agent in a region is able to frame a local organisation for your actions (e.g. in the US an Agent might generate false evidence that the CIA had been behind some of the anti-alien actions that the Xenonauts carried out). This reduces your current Threat level but leads to the aliens destroying the target organisation and weakening the whole region, shortening the Relations bar there and making it more vulnerable to alien infiltration in the long-term. This is explained further in the Region Relations & Infiltration section.

How much the player wants to manage Threat is a choice - the intention is to balance the game so a player playing a normal balanced strategy with a competent squad of soldiers doesn't have to worry about it too much (at least on the easier difficulty settings), but it is a much bigger concern if you're focusing heavily on rushing base expansion or air dominance in the early game and consequently have a weaker squad of soldiers and less advanced tech. It also gives us the ability to tie it into certain Geoscape events or other systems - perhaps one of your Agents failed a mission and is about to be killed by the aliens, but you can evacuate him if you're willing to take a Threat penalty etc.

relations_bar.png.cbfbbd058a75f2ab799887670d086663.png

 

Region Relations & Infiltration:

There are six funding regions on the Geoscape and each one now models their relations with the Xenonauts on their 10-tile Relations Bar. Each point of Relations is represented by a green square on the left-hand side of the relations bar, which represents local support for the Xenonauts and grants the player a certain amount of funding each week. The Infiltration in each region is now also tracked and shown by red squares added to the right-hand side of the same bar. If a tile becomes contested, Infiltration takes priority and the extra Relations are permanently lost.

A region is lost to the aliens if the Infiltration level is ever double the Relations level. This means Infiltration is not dangerous in small amounts but becomes increasingly problematic as it gets higher, and specific alien Geoscape activity tends to either add Infiltration to a region or lower your Relations in that region (but not both). Some missions are therefore more dangerous in certain regions than they are in others.

It is also worth noting that the Relations bar in a region can be shortened if the player decides to use a field agent to burn off Threat. The side effect of this is to remove one or more tiles from the Relations Bar, which does not alter the raw Relations / Infiltration levels but does move them closer together and potentially lead to Infiltration overwriting Relations. For example, if you shortened the relations bar by 2 tiles in a region where there was 5 Relations and 5 Infiltration, you would go down to 3 Relations in that region (causing you a funding loss and leaving the region perilously close to flipping to the aliens).

Infiltration can be bought under control using field agents using their Reduce Infiltration action. This is covered in more detail in the Agents & Field Operations section but the effectiveness of this action is based on combat experience, so you can always drop your best soldier into a region to bring the situation under control if Infiltration is looking dangerous. However, this will potentially tie them up on the Geoscape for an extended period of time.

 

Agents & Field Operations:

The Agent system allows you to assign your soldiers to specific regions as Agents, which allows them to conduct abstracted text-based undercover missions called Field Operations in that region. There are a variety of different field operations to choose from and the player knows the duration and success chance of the mission in advance; although different ones rely on different skills.

The purpose of this system is to give the player a way to intervene directly in a troubled region and generally exert more control over the Geoscape. The hope is that it will also encourage you to rotate your soldiers - e.g. if a couple of experienced soldiers with particular skills are required to spend a week dealing with a specific situation in one of the regions, you'll have to use someone different in you combat teams while they are away. The field operations on offer at the moment are fairly straightforward ones based around improving relations and reducing infiltration and so forth, but in the long term I'd like to tie it into other systems like Operation Endgame and also add some more situational missions for the player to conduct.

Given that field operations are rather powerful, there are limitations on the number you can run at any given time (plus you need the space for all the extra soldiers) - but this can be expanded by upgrading ATLAS Base. I think there's also scope to add in alien counter-play here - e.g. Alien Kill Teams could occasionally spawn in regions that have ongoing field operations and either force you to either destroy the Kill Team with your soldiers, abandon your operation and pull your Agent out, or continue the operation and risk having them killed.

 

Readiness:

The Readiness mechanic controls the number of Geoscape actions a player can perform. In game terms it represents the maintenance level of the helicopter dropship at ATLAS Base - so if an action requires Readiness and your helicopter isn't airworthy, you can't do it.

Given the helicopter is primarily used to deploy soldiers to Geoscape combat sites, the primary function of the system is to act as a check on the number of combat missions you can play across the course of the game. It was problematic in Xenonauts 1 that there was nothing to stop the player from fighting every single crash site and combat mission spawned on the Geoscape (other than the fact it was extremely boring); this now means the player has to pick and choose rather than do them all.

As there are unpleasant overtones of the Firaxis XCOM "choose one of three missions" system here, it's important to note that the player has far more freedom in this setup. You're not arbitrarily barred from doing multiple sites in a single day if you have enough Readiness to launch two missions, and the Readiness generation rate can be increased if you hire additional Engineers and assign them to the Hangar at ATLAS Base. You can run more combat missions than a normal player if you want to - but you need to make a conscious choice to do so and devote resources to it.

The final cool feature to mention here is that Readiness can also allow us to expand the base mechanics - for instance, by bringing back Stores Capacity. We're experimenting with a system where Readiness isn't just used to deploy troops on combat missions - a secondary use is to buy things and hire personnel from the Stores screen (the helicopter has to fly and pick up those supplies). This means that the player has to choose carefully when they want to buy / hire, because they are wasting Readiness if they do it too often - so you might not want to hire replacement soldiers immediately after taking casualties, as if you wait a few more days until your Lab finishes building you can hire six new scientists at the same time and save Readiness. Having more Storage Capacity at your base allows you to buy more stuff with each supply run, making your base more efficient.
 

Operation Endgame:

As the name suggests, Operation Endgame is the final mission and winning it wins you the game. The player is given an "Endgame Completion" meter at the start of the game that can be filled in a variety of ways; once this is filled to 100% the player is allowed to launch the final mission whenever they want.

This process takes a long time, but the player must balance completing Endgame too early (wasting resources if you're not yet ready to fight the final mission) against the risk of unlocking it too late and losing the game. These are some of the ways I am considering allowing Endgame advancement:

  • You get a certain passive gain each turn from the Chief Scientist
  • You can assign additional Scientists to Research Command in ATLAS Base to increase this passive gain
  • Research projects like alien autopsies / alien interrogations / UFO datacores / etc no longer auto-complete, but now give Endgame advancement if researched
  • Certain Geoscape missions and field operations could also grant Endgame advancement

This means the player does not have to jump through incredibly specific hoops in order to make progress towards unlocking the final mission (e.g. go capture a Praetor!), but rather there are a large number of hoops available and the player can choose which ones they want to jump through - capturing aliens alive etc will still give you a boost to your Endgame progress, but you don't have to do it to progress.

I also think it would be neat if we linked some specific unlocks to certain levels of Endgame completion - e.g. perhaps at 30% Endgame completion you know enough about the aliens to unlock the Hyperwave Decoder - and thus rushing Endgame progress becomes yet another possible strategy that the player could attempt. Not sure how well that will work in practice, but there's no harm in trying it out!

Realtime Geoscape:

After a long period of experimentation with a turn-based Geoscape in X2, we've decided to keep the realtime Geoscape mechanics from the original Xenonauts. The turn-based Geoscape did allow us to create more interesting tactical decisions for the player, but it also felt simpler and less interactive than the mechanics from X1 did. We therefore decided it would be better to retain the X1 mechanics and try to address a few of the weaknesses.

The main issue is the interception chance. In X1 the chance of an interceptor successfully catching a UFO had a large random element, because the UFOs would frequently change course and fly in a random direction. If they decided to fly directly towards your interceptor then even a slow interceptor could catch a fast UFO. If the UFO turned around and flew out of radar range, even a fast interceptor wasn't going to catch it in time. This means there was less strategy to the interceptions than there should be.

I think here the solution is just to make UFOs fly straighter for longer towards their targets, and limit the course changes to more shallow turns. This means the interceptions will have less random chance involved in them and the speed of the interceptor will be a bigger factor. Importantly, though, it also means UFOs will necessarily spawn further from their targets and have to cover more ground / sea to get there. This means the Geoscape Events spawned by UFOs will actually be useful in areas without radar coverage, as they'll show a rough trajectory of the UFO so you can make an educated guess about where it is heading and when it might reach your territory.

We also want to display information to the player in a clearer way - for instance, if three UFOs spawn within five minutes of each other, we may as well spawn them at the same time so the player can make a decision about where to send his interceptors without having to keep shuffling his assignments as new UFOs spawn in every five seconds. We'll do the same for construction work and research projects etc, collating that stuff to the nearest hour (or whatever) rather than tracking it to the exact minute.

Finally, we're also going to experiment with moving the radar coverage from your bases to the Geoscape regions themselves in order to fix the "optimal place to put your base" issue - or at least make the decision harder for the player. Under this system, you'll have to purchase radar coverage over each region individually, so placing a base in the Middle East will cover a lot of territory but you might need to buy radar coverage over four or five regions to use it properly. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm digging a lot of this stuff. World building happens in this layer and it's what makes the world feel alive. Having undetected UFO throwing up news ticker things in X1 made the world feel alive.

Regarding burning off threat, you mention framing the CIA; I think having names like that would go a long way to building the world. Naming these things also adds gravity to the actions. Literally seeing the US in shambles (missing 4 tiles) because you caused the destruction of the FBI, CIA, the Pentagone and the White House might weigh heavy on the player's mind; but hey, the end justifies the means, right?

The more these areas are named and fleshed out, the more the world will feel alive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From reading through many of these I was thinking, a good way to encourage rotation of soldiers / formation of more than one squad is if certain officers have the ability to boost the XP gain of lower ranked team members who can then go recover smaller UFOs, etc Perhaps veterans reach a point where they no longer gain as much XP on easy missions, as the challenge to them isn't as great? Then again, I guess that's what a XP curve does – more enemies means greater challenge but also greater XP gains, that's why you use vets on those missions (which rookies wouldn't even survive on), but maybe putting vets on 10 easy missions might not get them as much gain as you might be able to achieve on a curve compared to a new capped system. Maybe certain officers gain bonuses if they work with a team made up of varied nations / ability sets?

Without seeing it in practice yet, I think with relations and threat level already complicating the game (although a good balance might work if it's just the two of them), an endgame meter would probably complicate things too much. Simple story-driven steps towards this goal keeps with the spirit of the genre, and is something players understand well. The player can choose to capture and interrogate an alien of a particular rank in order to research a lead to the next level, or you can choose to focus on other things, this is how the right balance for each player is achieved.  I do like the idea of performing certain tasks / making allies to gain intel rather than interrogation being the only way towards the endgame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Shoes said:

Literally seeing the US in shambles (missing 4 tiles) because you caused the destruction of the FBI, CIA, the Pentagon and the White House

I'd be interested to see if this effect could be translated into the appearance of ground combat missions. So a region that has been decimated by burning off threat uses urban textures that look more decayed, as if the city has seen rioting and suffered from weakened government policing/infrastructure. 

Similarly, a heightened DEFCON level could result in each region spending more on their military budget, so you'd see an increase in their defensive capacity. This could be a bit of feedback to make the game less punishing when you fail a critical mission, although it would be double edged as the added human defence could work against you too. So actually lowering the DEFCON meter would get progressively harder. 

EDIT: also given that there is an effort being made to reduce the number of ground combat missions and a diminishing role for secondary bases - I wonder if the field operations need to be made quite extensive. They are replacing much of the means the player has to expand through the strategic layer. So where XCOM2 has Spec Ops that are quite random in terms of their bonuses, the operations in X2 would exist in a much more connected framework. Thus, they wouldn't just be an activity to do with your soldiers in their down time or a means to alter levels such as threat, but something more akin to the research tree with its avenues and junctures. I'm thinking, in terms of @RustyNayle's comment, that officers could get to the point where greater xp were gained through these operations, as the skills used there are less about pointing the shooty end of a gun in the right direction and more about being an all round kickass agent. 

Edited by Ninothree
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ninothree said:

EDIT: also given that there is an effort being made to reduce the number of ground combat missions and a diminishing role for secondary bases - I wonder if the field operations need to be made quite extensive. 

There was a thread where a user brought up the idea of sending soldiers on infiltration missions in order to gain intel, or requiring a soldier to be sent to scout missions before sending a dropship. This could translate to gameplay by having the Xenonauts recognize local forces before landing. No intel would mean everyone is seen as hostile, weak intel means you recognize the local forces, and strong intel means you arrive dressed as local forces, so they're your allies. I can't really come up with anything better, but I think the flavor of having spies in places fits well with the shadow war theme of the game.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I like the idea of UFOs not being used often at the start since the aliens are beaming small teams around to do stuff, using infiltration agents, lackeys among the humans, etc, but when the UFOs do appear, they are very well guarded and very powerful.  No need to scale the UFOs as scouts at first and get progressively larger if you have other options for the Xenonauts to engage with the aliens / their allies early in the game.  Greater intel means researching weaknesses in the UFOs and understanding their plans / flight paths and the chance for an ambush.  This way an interceptor might be sent to recon where the UFO lands, Xenonauts can then attempt to capture the craft or, since that would be too difficult at first with conventional weapons, to at least try to gain entry and do a quick smash and grab (or at least secretly steal intel from the computers, etc)

Edited by RustyNayle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, RustyNayle said:

UFOs not being used often at the start ...

Yeah that makes sense; capturing a UFO is really quite a high value prize, one that shouldn't necessarily be given to the player so early. Although, I argue that the size/scale of the UFOs wouldn't really have to start small. If the idea is that the aliens have been around for a while (throughout the Cold War), then they wouldn't be limited to running only scout ships at the outset of the game's timeline. I recall someone suggesting that larger UFOs could be visible from the beginning but that you just can't physically take them down in until later in the game. Accessing the tech on those bigger UFOs would be an achievement left dangling in front of the player, permitting a rush tactic but also a sense of player-driven progression, as opposed to it just be time for the aliens to break into the next tier of tech. 

In terms of Operation Endgame. A few thoughts spring to mind:

  • Allow the player to throw all their resources into at least one part of the final operation. So every soldier fights, and every engineer or scrap of material you've accumulated counts for something. In a lot of games I feel a sense of loss after winning - 'why did I bother trying so hard to scrimp on alien alloys?' Plus, throwing every soldier in the fray would be fun.
  • Link the percent completion of Operation Endgame to the decryption/translation of the alien signals/language. So the unlocks you acquire at, say, 30% are feasible because at that point you can interpret their technology sufficiently to use the hyperwave device. Further, repeated interrogations could successively add to your decryption/translation at a scaling rate. The unlocks at 70% are more to do with the alien's war plan, so only officer-grade interrogations are any help; but at 30% you still don't know the language enough for an officer-interrogation to be any more help than a grunt-interrogation.
  • Finally, would the difficulty of the last mission vary or remain static like the base defence mission? I think I'm not alone in playing through the game at least once with the purpose of maxing out soldiers/tech to the full. Having some option for a more challenging final mission would be good (in X1 there was the mini-game of 'how many reapers can you kill on the last mission'). Perhaps advanced objectives for the final mission could be unlocked by reaching 105% completion or something.
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the plan to have only one Operation Endgame available? I can imagine the "teleportation jammer" tech that keeps the aliens from arriving, building a teleporter powerful enough to send a bomb and/or troops to the alien origin point, and some kind of diplomatic compromise all being ways to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How would launching two combat missions in a day work if each day is a single turn?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/6/2018 at 12:23 AM, erutan said:

How would launching two combat missions in a day work if each day is a single turn?

1) You spend readiness to do a mission.
2) After a mission, the readiness meter drops and your soldiers are wounded or more stressed. Your store may be filled with loots.
3) But if you have enough readiness and battle ready soldiers and perhaps space for more loots, you can send them to another sortie.
4) Repeat until you don't have either or no more missions.
5) Advance the time (turn) to maintain the copter (readiness) and/or heal the soldiers in preparation of next mission.

The game may need some rules on day and night, e.g. first mission must be day when it is possible to do multiple and the last must be night, otherwisr random.

And the storage reminds me. I can understand storing delicate equipments and perishable foods in storage, but alien alloy is durable. Why can't we dump them, scrap and refined, on the surface? It's done in real world all the time on much less durable metals.

Edited by Sheepy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Personally, I am ok with one Operation Endgame; the community should be able to mod more ops in, and I prefer the dev resource spend on the base game.

That said, I have said before and still think that the operarion can still lead to multiple endings depending on research, world state, days, and other factors (dialogue choices?).

I can't find where it is said that UFO does not necessary start small, but I'd caution that seeing large UFO in start game will frustrate many players and potentially subject the fragile early game to UFO RNG lottery.

Story-wise, if the alien doesn't need to send big UFOs, like they've been successful in manipulating the superpowers so far and have just raided their biggest threat, they have no reason to - their resources are constrained too (in the story).

Edited by Sheepy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/29/2018 at 8:55 AM, RustyNayle said:

Without seeing it in practice yet, I think with relations and threat level already complicating the game (although a good balance might work if it's just the two of them), an endgame meter would probably complicate things too much. 

I think you'll probably have to play the game before you comment here - I personally don't think it's going to be that bad, although I must admit Threat isn't fully developed as a mechanic in gamplay terms yet ... so I guess we'll have to see how that turns out over the longer term.

On 4/29/2018 at 9:11 AM, Ninothree said:

I'd be interested to see if this effect could be translated into the appearance of ground combat missions. So a region that has been decimated by burning off threat uses urban textures that look more decayed, as if the city has seen rioting and suffered from weakened government policing/infrastructure. 

EDIT: also given that there is an effort being made to reduce the number of ground combat missions and a diminishing role for secondary bases - I wonder if the field operations need to be made quite extensive.

I think changing the appearance of the ground combat mission is beyond scope, and I think the assumption should probably be that the CIA HQ / whatever has been forcibly brought under alien control rather than reduced to a smoking crater in the ground!

I think there's definitely scope for making the field operations something quite important, but the number of ground combat missions in the game isn't actually being reduced unless you happened to be the kind of person who send a squad of soldiers to every single UFO crash site that you made in the first game.

On 4/30/2018 at 12:19 AM, RustyNayle said:

I like the idea of UFOs not being used often at the start since the aliens are beaming small teams around to do stuff...

 

On 4/30/2018 at 11:02 AM, Ninothree said:

Yeah that makes sense; capturing a UFO is really quite a high value prize, one that shouldn't necessarily be given to the player so early. Although, I argue that the size/scale of the UFOs wouldn't really have to start small. If the idea is that the aliens have been around for a while (throughout the Cold War), then they wouldn't be limited to running only scout ships at the outset of the game's timeline. I recall someone suggesting that larger UFOs could be visible from the beginning but that you just can't physically take them down in until later in the game. Accessing the tech on those bigger UFOs would be an achievement left dangling in front of the player, permitting a rush tactic but also a sense of player-driven progression, as opposed to it just be time for the aliens to break into the next tier of tech. 

I like this idea a lot; it's actually something I've been looking into myself for a bit. It does pose some balance problems but if I can figure out a way to work around it then it would be cool if you would generally only start shooting down UFOs in the mid-game (unless your building a whole strategy around downing a UFO in the early game). However if that's the case, the player needs an equivalent way to scavenge advanced equipment beyond just shooting up alien infiltration teams - I'm looking into having some small or semi-abandoned alien facilities on the map that you can seek out using your Field Agents.

On 5/1/2018 at 6:37 AM, Decius said:

Is the plan to have only one Operation Endgame available? I can imagine the "teleportation jammer" tech that keeps the aliens from arriving, building a teleporter powerful enough to send a bomb and/or troops to the alien origin point, and some kind of diplomatic compromise all being ways to go.

Yeah. Maybe it can be made more interesting if we have the development time to spare on it, but currently we've just got plans to have a single final mission.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the aliens are working with some sort of clandestine organisation from Earth, then those guys could have progressively greater tech which the Xenonauts can get their hands on before they finally start taking on the aliens in more direct conflicts.  In X-COM: Apocalypse the Cult of Sirius eventually had alien tech, but this was often after X-COM R&D got a hold of greater tech and was selling off their old stuff on the market, I would like to see the Sirius / Exalt / Advent equivalent in Xe2 as leading the Xenonauts for half the game, since they're the ones with direct access to the alien suppliers. in XCOM 2 encountering standard Advent soldiers versus actually fighting fully equipped aliens also seemed to be a progressive campaign.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's probably pretty late to ask but: Are there any plans to make the geoscape map 3d? like it was in the original xcom?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Gyozo Kudor said:

It's probably pretty late to ask but: Are there any plans to make the geoscape map 3d? like it was in the original xcom?

Afraid not, no. I prefer the visibility you get from seeing the whole map, particularly now the interception process is a little more abstracted than it was before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If there are going to be multiple bogeys on the geoscape at the same time, can we please have the whole map auto-centre on the most at one time or something.  Xe1 was a bit annoying when there was a bogey stuck on the left/right looped boundry and we had to keep scrolling left and right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/24/2018 at 7:14 AM, Chris said:

Afraid not, no. I prefer the visibility you get from seeing the whole map, particularly now the interception process is a little more abstracted than it was before.

I'm sorry to revisit an old discussion, back from the first xenonauts, but what about maybe choosing an arguably better map projection?

While changing the radar coverage into region based helps with the issue, I feel like there are maps that are a bit more area conscious, since the area represented on the geoscape plays a fairly big role.

Something like Ecker IV for example, still presents Earth in a way we are used to see, while being better with area. There are plenty of other options that will still be familiar to people, while not having Greenland the size of South America.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

While I like almost everything here, I'm not entirely sold on the idea of completely open ended objective where you can do what ever you see fit to advance to the end game. I feel capturing certain key alien and tech to advance plot is required to get a better strory arc with important plot steps.

The proposed system here sounds too much of a commonly disliked Ubisoft game design style where you just simply check boxes and fill bars to complete a game.

Edited by Skitso
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/30/2018 at 6:07 AM, Podesta said:

I'm sorry to revisit an old discussion, back from the first xenonauts, but what about maybe choosing an arguably better map projection?

While changing the radar coverage into region based helps with the issue, I feel like there are maps that are a bit more area conscious, since the area represented on the geoscape plays a fairly big role.

Something like Ecker IV for example, still presents Earth in a way we are used to see, while being better with area. There are plenty of other options that will still be familiar to people, while not having Greenland the size of South America.

Even if we did want to do that - and I'm not sure I do want to - the source maps for the Geoscape are based on the high-res world Blue Marble maps released by NASA from their research satellites (and I imagine the same is true for a lot of games). The maps all come in standard Mercator projection, and I'm not sure it's feasible to move them over to another projection without great difficulty and loss of image quality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dare say the only alternative to flat map is 3D globe.  Used by X-COM, UFO: After, and Phoenix Point - basically the two originals and all clones that still have stuffs freely moving in realtime.  X1 is the only one I know that doesn't.

Technically, mercator data points can be easily converted to latitude and longitude, which can be even more easily plotted on a 3D globe.  3D texture and data is common and cheap (64k day + 32k night + country border + city location + cosmo skybox + unity integration = US$10 !!!), and can support more fancy graphic effects.  Pretty sure most time would be spent on redesigning and rewriting the UI rather than on mapping texture.  Realistic and cool, but not a usability enhancement and I'm not sure it's something worth spending time on with all the talks of course change going on.

Flat map is unrealistic only when you mind it and compare with real Earth. Mechanically it does not make much difference.  I'd rather see the whole Earth in one screen.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Sheepy said:

I dare say the only alternative to flat map is 3D globe.  Used by X-COM, UFO: After, and Phoenix Point - basically the two originals and all clones that still have stuffs freely moving in realtime.  X1 is the only one I know that doesn't.
 

I've always wanted a 3D map for a successor of classic X-Com games. Mostly because of nostalgia, I guess. But when I read this, I thought to myself: "but a game needs to distinguish itself from others".

Flat but based on real Earth photos map was something new and interesting. I'd leave it like that. Although with some adjustments. It's not like these are real colors, after all. Those photos are taken in RAW format and then the color scheme is built from the ground in Photoshop. There are other real photographs of Earth and they don't all look the same. Thus, some adjustments won't make it less real. It’s the opposite, actually. When you look at photos made from the sky, most of them look brighter when the sky is clear. Even the ground under our feet looks brighter then. And this photo looks like it wasn’t directly lighted by the sun. And it’s because it really wasn’t, i.e. this picture was composed from parts of the photos with no sunlight reflections. Obviously. It reminds me of textures with poor lighting from the early days of 3D graphics.

So, I think a good idea would be to add light maps to the Geocape view. Sun reflections on the ground and more vivid ones on the water could look awesome, in my opinion. And certainly very realistic.

Also, people evolved in Africa tens of thousands years. Back then it looked like contemporary California or Greece. And those are environments intuitively preferred by humans. It's also one of the reasons most people prefer to go for holidays to similar places. Most probably it's also the reason why brighter color schemes became more popular in recent years (instead of darker, for example).

Edited by Ravn7
typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

---

On a topic of "3D-Globe vs flat-paper", why not have both?

What I personally disliked most of the "flat-map" was the semi-illusion of a part of the world missing
( E.G. "Near / Sasignan Islands", and especially some easter-parts of" New Zealand", maybe part of "Beringia" )
(( then again, there is always something lost / "brittled" in cutting or or any other separation / division-processes )).

However, the "flat-map" was a nice way to see everything on the map in a single glance instead of having the need to do the "Where on Earth is X"-routine all the time.


So, having an option to swap between the map-types / globe-view-styles would be a grand.

---
---
---

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I somehow missed this thread! Ideas I've presented where already here and this gives the framework I've been missing! 

On 4/19/2018 at 12:01 PM, Chris said:

The DEFCON counter moves down by one when you lose a funding region or fail to deal with a terror site, and it goes up by one when you complete a "DEFCON Mission". This is a new type of ground mission that can only be attempted in the US or the Soviet Union and involves capturing / killing a warmongering local military officer so that someone more level-headed can take over. Successfully removing the VIP lowers global tension but also inflicts a relations penalty in the local region. If the mission turns into a bloodbath, this relations penalty can be rather severe - but if you've been using non-lethal weapons it is far lower. We'll be adding some additional stun weapons to the tech tree so you can go the non-lethal route if you want to!

Welcome back stunbomb. I'm guessing these weapons will be mostly ineffective against armored aliens and quite effective against humans. A progression of stunning also leads to a nice situation where the first alien captured was done so at enormous risk to your soldiers but lower-tier aliens in a gotta' catch 'em all fashion would be made easier. It also lends well to a world where not everyone is carrying around a stun baton, "just in case." My biggest worry is of the cryssalids/reapers/funstuff going down more easily to stunning than shooting, but I'm sure that's relatively easy to balance.

On 4/29/2018 at 5:34 AM, Shoes said:

No intel would mean everyone is seen as hostile, weak intel means you recognize the local forces, and strong intel means you arrive dressed as local forces, so they're your allies.

This eventually leads to the amusing situation where soldiers are shooting at your men. Uselessly! Because they're in ultra-cool armor that looks so much like the aliens that you might as well be with them.

On 6/30/2018 at 12:07 AM, Podesta said:

I'm sorry to revisit an old discussion, back from the first xenonauts, but what about maybe choosing an arguably better map projection?

On 7/1/2018 at 10:37 AM, Sheepy said:

Flat map is unrealistic only when you mind it and compare with real Earth. Mechanically it does not make much difference.  I'd rather see the whole Earth in one screen.

21 hours ago, Pave said:

On a topic of "3D-Globe vs flat-paper", why not have both?

I would hope that there's room for great circle routing to have a role in this game. You can already see it in the kickstarter art with curved lines and satellite paths. It creates an extra headache where there doesn't strictly need to be one, especially considering the current map projection just looks so cool and so much like the NASA command rooms that you'd expect from a base built in the 60s, but seeing your ships move along a line that suggests the earth is a globe brings something nifty to the game, I think.

On 7/1/2018 at 4:58 PM, Ravn7 said:

So, I think a good idea would be to add light maps to the Geocape view. Sun reflections on the ground and more vivid ones on the water could look awesome, in my opinion. And certainly very realistic.

Now I want cloud coverage and weather patterns and having them be linked into the kickstarter goal of weather on the battlescape and tying them into a system where it's harder to spot UFOs in a storm, and UFOs creating storms, and you could find UFOs by following unnatural cloud formations, and this just got so far out of scope that either the kickstarter would need double what its got or it's an idea for a third Xenonauts.

On 4/29/2018 at 2:55 AM, RustyNayle said:

Without seeing it in practice yet, I think with relations and threat level already complicating the game (although a good balance might work if it's just the two of them), an endgame meter would probably complicate things too much. Simple story-driven steps towards this goal keeps with the spirit of the genre, and is something players understand well.

On 5/7/2018 at 3:13 PM, Chris said:

I think you'll probably have to play the game before you comment here - I personally don't think it's going to be that bad, although I must admit Threat isn't fully developed as a mechanic in gamplay terms yet ... so I guess we'll have to see how that turns out over the longer term.

Maybe relations is just the wrong word. Infiltration, backing, conversion, assimilation, recognition, awareness, or appreciation might be better. In the realm of a shadow war, getting people on your side is the aim of the game. Convincing more people to devote their black budget to your cause, teaching them to trust no one in their own government due to alien infiltration, and finding rich private backers in a given region seems more in line with how this mechanic is flavored in the game. There's this scene in Lord of War which just so beautifully fits what I think of in this game, except instead of bribing people with money, you're smiling at them after they ask what they can do to help and replying, "you know, I don't think anyone would miss these missiles." Since this is essentially the same mechanic for both the player and the aliens, giving them the same word would be classy, though it doesn't make you seem like the good guys if you do that.

Threat, similarly, might be better viewed as Visibility. Obviously the aliens will always care about shutting down your facility and the various ways you burn off Threat feel more in line with how much the aliens know about you and what you're doing.

On 4/19/2018 at 12:01 PM, Chris said:

a secondary use is to buy things

What kind of things will we buy? I'd miss the system of having unlimited access to tier zero equipment from X1. Would these just be planes or do you have something else in mind?

I'm going to guess the geoscape will look a lot prettier once the game is released. Having huge bars next to the continents is useful but cluttersome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/1/2018 at 2:39 PM, Chris said:

Even if we did want to do that - and I'm not sure I do want to - the source maps for the Geoscape are based on the high-res world Blue Marble maps released by NASA from their research satellites (and I imagine the same is true for a lot of games). The maps all come in standard Mercator projection, and I'm not sure it's feasible to move them over to another projection without great difficulty and loss of image quality.

On the main discussion, I would like to clarify that I personally don't have big problems with the flat maps as opposed to a 3d globe. I feel there are pros and cons to both, and it is ultimately a game design decision that I can understand.

I just don't fully understand the map projection choice. Area coverage is a big part of the strategy on the geoscape, and going with a map that is more true to area representation, while still maintaining the similar look of world maps we are used to, would be a win without any negatives that I could think of.

As to the space imagery that NASA gives out, I believe they are fully aware that the equirectangular projections they use by default is not the best use in all situations. They have an extremely powerful and handy tool that converts any of the maps they publish into over 150 different projections. It is extremely easy to use.

https://www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/gprojector/

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No such thing as a 3D Earth, everyone knows Earth is flat!  /s

I really enjoy the 3D maps of, say, UFO: AI or the unrelated UFO: AfterX series.  But I really loved the aesthetic of the flat map in X1.  It was absolutely beautiful, and it was nice being able to see the whole world without having to rotate anything.  So I'd say sticking to the X1 style, just with the mentioned improvements and changes, is definitely the way to go for X2.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×