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Xenonauts-2: ATLAS Base

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main_base_arrangement.png

ATLAS Base replaces the base viewer screen from the first Xenonauts. The overall base management simulation is significantly deeper this time around, but there have also been some fundamental changes to the way bases work:

  • ATLAS Base is not displayed on the Geoscape and is your only "main" base (e.g. you can't house personnel or store items etc at any other base)
  • Interceptor aircraft are housed in separate Geoscape airbases rather than in ATLAS Base

This actually changes relatively little in gameplay terms - in the first game, the vast majority of players had a "main" base and then just expanded their coverage of the globe by building additional bases that contained only hangars and radars (this was definitely the most efficient way of doing things). Formalising this allows us to better focus the narrative, exapnd the mechanics, and also frees up a lot of UI space that can be used for other things.

(Yes, that's a nuclear missile.)

These are the topics discussed in this thread:

 

Base Structures & Personnel Slots:

ATLAS Base has a total of 18 building slots into which you can place a structure. Many of these building slots start off derelict or blocked by debris, so Engineers must be assigned to clear the slot before you can place a building into it. Buildings of the same type placed in horizontally adjacent slots will gain adjacency bonuses - and if we can afford the additional art, we'd like them to visually merge together too.

This is all pretty straightforward stuff that will be familiar to anyone that has played XCOM or Fallout Shelter. The more interesting part of the system is the Personnel Slots that come attached to most structures, which come in one of three types - soldier slots, scientist slots or engineer slots. The effect of assigning staff to a slot varies on the structure; e.g. assigning a Scientist to a Laboratory will generate research points each turn, but assigning them to a Medical Room will boost the casualty survival rate and healing rate of all injured soldiers.

There are also three "command" structures that exist on the top row of the base and cannot be demolished (the header image is outdated and only shows two) - Operations Command, Research Command and the Hangar. Each has a non-interactive "character slot" that houses one of your command staff (e.g. the Chief Scientist) and provides a powerful bonus, but they also have five personnel slots where you can assign additional staff to gain additional strategic bonuses. For example, the Hangar building houses the helicopter pilot ("Skyranger") who grants +5% Readiness generation per turn, but each additional Engineer assigned to the Hangar grants an additional +1% Readiness. 

The idea is that there are a lot of useful structures for the player to build, but they cannot easily build all of them due to space and funding constraints. I'd ideally also like to allow the player to upgrade their structures, making them more expensive but also more space-efficient, because that gives the player another set of decisions about how they build their base.

I felt that your main base in the first Xenonauts didn't really need to expand much - once you'd built a couple of extra radars and another lab on the first turn, there wasn't really much more to do for the rest of the game. We want ATLAS to be continually expanding and improving as the game unfolds, ending the game as a highly efficient fortified facility bustling with the staff you need to support a global planetary defence operation.

 

Power Capacity:

The player must stay within ATLAS Base's power generation capacity when assigning staff - but it's important to note that buildings themselves do not consume power, assigning staff to the personnel slots on them does. You can always reshuffle your staff assignments if you are short on power.

There are two ways to generate additional power. The first is to build additional power generation capacity, for instance by building another Generator base structure. The second option is to assign one or more Engineers to the Generator building slots, granting a small amount of extra power for each Engineer assigned.

Aside from limiting your access to the power-hungry "command" slots in the early game and making you think about where you place your generation structures, this system could be used to support some interesting buildings - e.g. a building with a huge power draw, but produced a certain amount of Alien Alloys per day when active. This would be very useful, but would also force the player to shut down a bunch of the less essential parts of their base while it was running. Basically, it would be nice if base management could be an active process rather than just you assigning your staff to a building and then forgetting about them for the rest of the game!

 

Stores Capacity & Upkeep:

The base now has a Stores Capacity that represents how many items you can store in your base and can be expanded by building additional Storerooms. At its most basic level this just limits the amount of stuff you can stockpile in your base unless you're willing to build some extra Storerooms, but we're hoping to make the mechanics a bit more involved than that!

We're experimenting with a system where the player has a store that they can buy items / hire staff from, but each order costs Readiness as the helicopter has to go and pick the supplies up. This means you naturally want to place as few orders from the store as possible, otherwise you're wasting Readiness that could be used to run more combat missions and improve your strategic position.

This can be expanded by replacing upkeep costs with Rations and Materials. These are inexpensive items you can purchase from the store - each staff member eats a certain amount of Rations each day, and base construction and engineering projects etc consume Materials. You can happily stockpile as many of these as you want up to the limits of your Stores Capacity, so having extra storage space means you can survive for longer without having to do a supplies run with the helicopter.

I think there is also scope to make the recovery of alien materials a bit more interesting with this system - recovering a particularly bulky part of a UFO might be worthwhile if you were going to research it immediately, but if it's just going to sit in your base stores for weeks whilst you research something more important, it might be worth selling it immediately (or you might want to build another storeroom). Similarly, I'm considering adding "unrefined alloys" to UFO Crash Sites, which act like alien alloys but take up MUCH more stores space - if you've got a lot of storage space at your base they're worth recovering, but if you've only got one Storeroom they'll be prohibitively large and you'll want to leave them behind.

This stuff has been implemented but not fully playtested within a full campaign. I'm hoping it will add some interesting decisions to the game, but there's also a chance it'll just be annoying - so we'll have to evaluate it as development continues to see if it's a feature we want to include in the final game!

 

Training & Base Comfort:

A couple of quick words on some of the base systems around your soldiers - as your soldiers don't have much use within ATLAS base compared to scientists or engineers, they are assumed to be "battle ready" for combat deployment in the dropship unless assigned to the Geoscape as a field agent or assigned to the Operations Command room.

The training system is covered in more depth in the Soldier thread, but the basic principle is that you can build Training Rooms that allow you to assign a certain number of soldiers to train a specific skill. They gain a certain number of skill points each day even if sent on a combat mission that day - they just have to be "battle ready" to be eligible for training. The more troops you have, the more training space you'll want - although note that training weapon skills and gaining combat experience are different things!

Secondly, there is a "base comfort" stat which controls how much Stress / Fatigue a soldier regenerates each day. This is currently not used, but it's possible we'll add structures like a Rec Room that will allow your troops to recover from a mission more quickly (and if not, the option is there for modders to use).

 

Base Defence Missions:

The last thing to talk about is how base defence missions work. In a purely mechanical way they function the same as they did in Xenonauts 1 - you get access to all of your soldiers rather than just the ones in the dropship, and you can set them up in advance to defend a central area from an alien attack. We're also hopefully going to be adding sentry guns, which are immobile vehicles that can be equipped with an infantry weapon and are useful for guarding side corridors or beefing up your defensive chokepoints etc. There's also a possibility we could allow players to manually move around defensive structures like sandbags, and place blast doors to block off certain corridors, etc.

However, you will not be getting the classic X-Com / Xenonauts feature of getting to fight in an exact replica of your whole base - instead you fight in a replica of the upper command level of ATLAS base (which has a pre-set layout). Whilst we're losing a cool feature here, this was already a time-consuming feature to implement in 2D due to the code requirements and art requirements for stitching together a map from any possible arrangement of the various buildings in the game ... and the way lighting works in 3D and the way levels are loaded in Unity makes the job an order of magnitude more complex in Xenonauts-2.

Using a pre-set map layout allows us to make a more tactically interesting map - e.g. adding all sorts of chokepoints, access tunnels that allow flanking, secondary entry points for the aliens, deployable static defences, etc - and it also makes it much easier for us / modders to add in extra types of base structure during development (as we don't need a full 3D equivalent for each one). 

I realise that some people may be disappointed that one of the cool features from the previous game is being dropped, and I understand why they feel that way - but I'm not sure it's worth sinking a such disproportionately large amount of time into a cool but ultimately somewhat minor feature. The silver lining is that you'll likely get a more interesting gameplay experience as a result, and we'll be freeing up dev time that can be used to improve other things as well.

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I like the concept art on the whole but my immediate impression was a bit mixed - it does resemble the 'ant farm' style base in XCOM. Thinking about it, that isn't actually a bad thing; I guess that I like to see differences between Firaxis and Goldhawk, so when things are the same there is a sense of loss. However, there is no point in reinventing the wheel just because Firaxis already have a round shaped toy to play with. From the above, there are more interesting base mechanics under development than just the aesthetic - speaking of which, well done on the nuke! My main qualms with building structures in the base is that it doesn't feel like a checklist of rooms that you tick off as the game progresses, or that it doesn't end up being reducible to 'that one workable strategy' (pretty obvious really). Those issues could well be remedied by all that stuff going on in the base - though I'm kinda glad it is not my job to make sure all the possible choices are balanced / reflective of individual playthroughs.

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Yeah, I understand the instinctive reaction you had to the art - but I do think there's a danger some people will have an instinctive negative reaction to what they associate the side-on "ant farm" look with when they see the art (XCOM's simpler base mechanics), rather than properly considering what we're doing with the base mechanically (making it a lot more complex).

Flipping the art from a top-down view to side-on is just a perspective swap that means you are seeing the walls of a building rather than the floor. I am aware of the potential negative connotations and I mulled the art change for quite a while ... but ultimately base structures look much more interesting from the side, so I figured it'd be pretty dumb to deliberately make Xenonauts-2 an objectively worse game just to keep more visual distance between us and Firaxis.

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Posted (edited)

Hmm, I was going to say that it looked a lot like the new XCOM, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Base attacks sound interesting now that I actually read it, durr. I think the Base Comfort stat was a cool idea. Hopefully it won't be too much of a pain to manage :)

I do like this design though. It would be even better if it had some moving parts, personell, elevators and perhaps machinery doing their business. Maybe a few of the Xenonauts playing cards in one of the living quarters or something.

Edited by DaReaperZ
Being stupid.

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Posted (edited)

A whole bunch or random ideas I had while reading through this...

Regarding readiness, base comfort, and rations, etc, I love the idea, but will the finer details detract from those that love Xenonauts as a spiritual successor to the original XCOM: UFO Defence?  I know that you're not just trying to directly copy X:UD / the new X:EU, and rather make a totally new game, but I guess some extensive playtesting would definitely be needed to find the right balance so it doesn't become a SIM base command.  Most players of X:UD and X:EU are used to an exciting ground battle, then back into the base management for several tweaks, then into another ground battle, etc.  Admittedly, this got rather tedious in X:UD when the ground battles became repetitive, and that's where later story development / politicking came into it, and why special missions are so important to keeping the game exciting / cinematic.

I think a recon mission each time you claim a new base site on the Geoscape would totally change the base / story dynamic (rather than Atlas just being a copy of the Avenger in X2). Perhaps one of the very first missions is finding the atlas site itself, which could have been a massive bomb shelter / command centre which the aliens wiped out (and had left a small group to guard) after relationship with some sort of shadow government turned sour.  This clandestine organisation initially thought to have been wiped out could show up later on just like the Cult of Sirius in X:A, Exalt from X:EW, or even Advent in X2 (humans / hybrids working directly with the aliens).

Later bases - be they increased space for traditional base structures, specialised centres for development / production of tech, super hospitals / training centres, etc, or only air bases as you originally planned - could have been developed by various nations around the world (some gifting the Xenonaut programs with an important site of their own, others not supportive of the program but having a site so valuable it has to be siezed), shadow government secret installations, the invading aliens' bases, or even sites from alternative ancient aliens who appear to have left / been wiped out (a la Precursors in Star Control) - which could be exactly what the aliens are after?  I never did like the fact that aliens would build bases and XCOM would kill everyone inside and then just strip all the raw materials to use for themselves but not investigate what the aliens were up to, utilise their more efficient manufacturing / communication methods, and so on.  Using soldiers to clear out space / guard base sites creates a use for them at base and encourages you to spread them around so you don't have mere rookies killed and important bases taken, and train a broader swathe of soldiers rather than just have a single ace team repeatedly used.

One of the things I love about X:EU is the site recon missions which turn out to be key turning points in the war, but which you enter having absolutely no idea what you're about to encounter - the infamous chrysallid nest in the whale in Newfoundland (requiring an airstrike because there's simply too many of them), for example.  X:EW, X2, X2:WOTC all have similar missions when you first encounter an alien that first enables the development of a new type of tech, find powerful NPCs (psychics / carrier of alien tech / UN agent), encounter a city already far gone with chrysallid infestation, meet new factions, etc  Alien bases that just show up on radars was always really lame, but a recon mission in which you recover a base lead is so much better.

I reckon some of the more risque experimental tech such as development of psychic powers, genetic alteration, or even cybernetic enhancements, might end up inadvertedly producing an enemy from within who has been driven insane or contacted by the aliens (who might have even allowed Xenonauts to discover their trojan horse) and who become a recurring enemy that shows up randomly and/or in special missions a bit like the Chosen, using their knowledge of the Xenonaut organisation against them.  That definitely added to the tension of X:A, X:EW and X2:WOTC, as these are the guys that will attack your bases at any moment and sabotage your operations at key development stages.  A third "neutral" side to the war makes it interesting as well.  I always wondered why we never encountered an evil alien or even human scientist that was controlling / enhancing the Lost in X2:WOTC.

Different types of terror missions add a lot of spice to the game, maybe trying to locate / defuse bombs being placed inside a skyscraper where you also have to stop the aliens from laying more down during mission, revisit the the shipping lane missions from X:TFTD with freight / cruise liners (the former causing supply / ration restrictions, the latter being more of a traditional terror mission?), government officials being taken hostage which turns out to be a trap...  Be creative!  Part of the tension / excitement of such missions is the not knowing what might be lurking around the corner and if the mission will even be possible to complete using conventional means, or needs to be abandoned after at least managing to rescue a key hostage, capture a foe, procure some tech or intel.  Encountering new enemies or tech on such missions rather than them just show up randomly after downing a UFO adds to this element of the game.

A couple of small notes, rather than "unrefined" alien alloys, why not call the loot from bases / crash sites that have been wrecked "scrap" alloys, which can be melted down and refined into "reclaimed" alloys which takes up less space and is ready for use.  Some missions, depending on the amount of collateral damage caused (and whether the aliens have some refined alloy ready to use in their own manufacturing) might have a combination of scrap and refined alloy.  Also, in base defence missions, I would love to see scientists being weak / poor shots, but using experimental tech only they know how to use, and engineers being the ones that help move base defences (sand bags, sentries) around.

Edited by RustyNayle

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Posted (edited)

I liked the idea of soldier synergy (XCOM 1 mod) and bonding (XCOM 2), so if you were to use this base comfort / training mechanic, perhaps this could be combined with the before-mentioned mechanic, in that soldiers that share time in hospital / recreation / training will develop a bond that extends to the battle field (or at least when resting / training together the time required to do so is reduced).  Practicing the use of special abilities available only to bond mates while in the field might help level them up, or things like carrying each other when wounded, generally fighting alongside each other, etc  I really like the idea of one soldier suppressing / in overwatch while his buddy runs forward and draws fire, and/or someone gains a bonus to dodge during a distraction, that sort of thing.

Edited by RustyNayle

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its firaxis X-coms base with a missile in the elevator shaft, combined with firaxis X-com style of base expansion using the excavate>build system, and its system limiter of using powerplants...it even copied its adjacency bonus system. enfin that worked fine for firaxis when they revived the franchise.

personnel slots, well all the information so far seems to indicate a minor boost in structure effect when personnel is placed in it, we'll see how it pans out as it depends greatly on how many people we can hire and maintain. ofc the amount of structures and what they actually do is also important, from the outdated screenshot in the OP, you have 18 slots to work with after excavation, labs, workshops, power plants, medbays and storage capacity is already going to eat roughly 1/3th the total 

logistics has been made tedious, backpack inventory management in the topic of soldiers was apparently too much of a hassle, but instead we have to reserve enough storage space for beancans and bags of rice (rations) to feed people while also keeping space for construction equipment,  the odd drone and much needed research subjects. this is either a non-isseu as you have enough space for the monthly groceries, or its going to be a major PITA that, from my current perspective adds practically nothing to the tactical and strategical gameplay of the game (other then frustrate the deployments as you really have to blow readiness for a trip to the proverbial supermarket) meal, storage capacity and supply run management is a staple in games where the goal is just survival...I don't think it is going to mesh well in a turn based tactical.

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I really don't like this idea of copying Firaxis' ant farm approach, I think you should branch out and do something new for your own franchise.  If the Xenonauts are capturing / siezing whole sites with different purposes around the world, that is a much better approach, and helps the story along as well.  It's more fun to take over an enemy air base, research base or facility that is able to manufacture alienium cells towards the end of the war than it is to save up the money and just build it, IMHO.  The first base being customizable is okay, but it takes a lot of time and money to build stuff even with adaptations from alien tech, just the logistics of transporting all the building material into a secret location is not really possible in a "secret war" environment.  I keep relating it back to Stargate, but I like the fact that they attached devices to their current infrastructure, but they weren't digging out more space or building different structures inside their bunker.

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I assume that the rations-storage issue is there to put a constraint on the way that you use readiness to run missions and the way that you hoard items. If you're using the transport only for missions  then you'll need a fair amount rations in storage, which in turn means that you can't hold on to massive stockpiles of equipment so your research slows down. I guess the hope is that it will allow for play styles where that choice actually makes a difference. Though at this point, I'm thinking that the best option will be to do supply runs less often, then slowly replace that food with loot from the field - when you're out of food, bulk sell the loot from missions in the same flight as you stock up again. Probably, the downside to this is that your income then becomes too sporadic. We'll see how it pans out. I suppose that food limits could also inhibit your staff count, as a ton of scientists could mean daily trips to resupply.

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On 5/1/2018 at 7:53 PM, Conductiv said:

its firaxis X-coms base with a missile in the elevator shaft, combined with firaxis X-com style of base expansion using the excavate>build system, and its system limiter of using powerplants...it even copied its adjacency bonus system. enfin that worked fine for firaxis when they revived the franchise.

Hmm - I get the feeling if we'd retained the top down view and multiple base setup and added in support for powerplants, adjacency bonuses and some form of excavation system, everyone would be delighted to see them added to the game. I don't think there's anything wrong with those systems themselves.

 

23 hours ago, RustyNayle said:

I really don't like this idea of copying Firaxis' ant farm approach, I think you should branch out and do something new for your own franchise.  If the Xenonauts are capturing / siezing whole sites with different purposes around the world, that is a much better approach, and helps the story along as well.  It's more fun to take over an enemy air base, research base or facility that is able to manufacture alienium cells towards the end of the war than it is to save up the money and just build it, IMHO.  The first base being customizable is okay, but it takes a lot of time and money to build stuff even with adaptations from alien tech, just the logistics of transporting all the building material into a secret location is not really possible in a "secret war" environment.  I keep relating it back to Stargate, but I like the fact that they attached devices to their current infrastructure, but they weren't digging out more space or building different structures inside their bunker.

I mean - sure, there is potential to add multiple bases back into the game, and having multiple base sites on the map (each with their own size and limitation) that you can occupy or capture is a cool way of doing it. But it's also a massive new feature for us to work on that would require a lot of effort, so I think it'd have to be a Kickstarter stretch goal - if I can even work out how we integrate it into the current game mechanics in a way that would make them useful. But if I was going to implement multiple bases, this is probably how I would do it.

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Posted (edited)

@Chris , I just think capturing bases rather than building new ones will really fit in better with your vision of a secret war / cold war style game.  I mentioned this idea and its benefits on other threads as well. Please give it some serious thought.  X-COM: Apocalypse had new sites you could buy and then fill out how you want, but I'm talking about not actually having any room in these new bases to build what you want, you are actually just capturing say a 1 structure site, which then enables you to intercept alien communication with their human lackeys, start to learn the alien language, learn alien computing, and finally be able to hack through the doors of UFOs and eventually even understand all alien communication (that's one site, for example).  Each new base would be part of the story progression, and most likely enable new research / production / use of tech.  The order that they are capped in could be relatively random as well, which would change the way the game is played each time.

Edited by RustyNayle

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The only problem I see with the Atlas base is it's two dimensional.  IF the cross-section is East-West what is on the North-South axis.  I doubt the rooms are curved completely (50%) around the center.  Plus there could be MORE rooms in the outermost ring.  Making a 3-D map is hard but having two maps (one from above and one from the side is possible).

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4 hours ago, Chris said:

Hmm - I get the feeling if we'd retained the top down view and multiple base setup and added in support for powerplants, adjacency bonuses and some form of excavation system, I'm sure everyone would be delighted to see them added to the game. I don't think there's anything wrong with those systems themselves.

 

it is a solid way of making the base, hence I said it did work when firaxis did it almost the exact same way.

-excavation is, not always a logical thing to add to the game, while it does allow for base growth throughout a run. it only makes thematically sense when you use a old mine, a derelict base or you are building it from scratch (old spaceship from Xcom2 for completions sake). even then construction usually compasses some sort of "excavation"...so its a okay, but not really super interesting addition. in that aspect the top-down-tetris-planner used in X1 wasn't half bad.

-adjacency bonuses make sense, for identical facilities and in many cases also facilities that have a close relation to one another (no person in their right mind would design a restaurant, with the dining area between the kitchen and the fridge, or for a more related example, making a aircraft hanger in the middle of the base with no direct access to a runway)  the Xcom reboot only did the former, maybe X2 will surprise me and mind the latter as well. 

-power system management can be a great addition, but it can also be a system that is only there to block off building space with a facility that does nothing but exist for gameplay purposes. in the old RTS games they had a function as they powered the defenses, enemies could target them resulting in the need of abundance and protective placement. in the Xcom reboots they seem to act much more like hurdles to delay player progression a bit, preventing the player from going on a rampage too early on...but I have to note here that the Xcom reboots never put that much thought in the base, it was generally a build-and-forget approach, X2 seems to want to do more with the base and this could be used in a interesting fashion...but that fashion has to extend beyond EU/EW..adjacency bonuses and thermal vent placement (or X2's staffing)

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Yeah I would second @Conductiv that excavation and power supply only seem to be in there to slow the player down. It is usually an obvious choice when it comes to devoting resources/engineers to expand or to consolidate: earlier expansion pays off in the long run. More to the point, if you allow the player fuller access to all spaces in the base from the outset, it would then encourage them to put more thinking into room positioning. Surely the potential for making decisions about layout is what should be maximised.

If you have lots of space early on, there are still restrains to make you prioritise what to build first but you get a bit more freedom to plan in the advantage of adjacency bonuses. Those adjacency bonuses could then be developed into choices in and of themselves: for instance, two labs next to each other provide extra science but placing a lab next to a workshop reduces the materials cost in production. Likewise, the top layer adjoins the hangar so offers respective bonuses to the store room or barracks. If this is balanced correctly, then we wont end up all going for the same base layout as it could lend itself to different approaches.

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Posted (edited)

Having just completed another run through of Xe1, I became interested in Xe2 starting off with basic laser weaponry since the canon story is the chief scientist's assistant leaked some of that tech out and it became more mainstream.  Or, as much as I hate the idea of an "alternate reality / timeline" to try and explain differences between Xe1 and Xe2, what if chief scientist was experimenting on the hyperdrive powered by a singularity generator and ended up phasing the whole main research base across to an alternate dimension / reality?  In the ensuing chaos, the aliens incarcerated there might have taken the opportunity to wreck the base and escape.  That way, as the Xenonauts who have discovered this decades old abandoned site start to excavate the space they have claimed, they will discover little snippets of history and realise there were aliens incacerated there, alien tech being researched, etc, and this could be the Xenonauts' first hint that perhaps all the weird things that are going on are not just those western dogs' hijinks, but perhaps of extraterrestrial origin?

 

In Xe1 we hear about the Praetors discovering Caesans, coveting their psychic powers, and enslaving them in order to steal their power for themselves...  Or so they thought?  Perhaps the Caesans managed to convince the Praetors that they were still running the show, when in fact the Caesans coveted the Praetors' tech and most of all their immortality.  It would be easy for telepathic beings to convince another people that they were still in charge (even though the Caesans were using them like puppets), and even trick them into thinking they had their own psychic powers after attempting Caesan gene treatments on themselves.  This way the Praetors don't even need to be in Xe2, but we still have the same evil masterminds behind this second conflict.  So many possibilities!  I really like this cold / secret war idea, it's so much better than open warfare. What if the High Praetor was actually possessed directly by a Caesan, who was intent on perfecting his host, that's why he originally came to Earth (where the Praetors had already been once before).  The hyperdrive on this Caesan's battleship might have been hit by a singularity torpedo, which caused it to warp across to our dimension as well, so that's why he is searching desperately for any other artifacts that might have came across as well, in order to research possession before the Praetors from this dimension arrive. Maybe the Xenonauts find out about this Dark Caesan's search for possessing other beings from the captured Praetor from Xe1, who was warped across to this dimension with the rest of the base, but managed to survive buried deep under all the rubble (late game discovery while excavating).

 

My idea of claiming single structure sites around the world works if structures are being claimed from the aliens, human collaborators, secret facilities siezed directly from Earth governments, etc  If you don't like that idea, then you could at least run with the idea above of the whole base actually being from the original Xe1 and was accidentally warped to this dimension / alternate reality.  The excavation of the ruined facility could find structures that fulfil some of the functions mentioned above (i.e. reclaim / repair structures, rather than build them from scratch), as well as eventually find the trapped Praetor as mentioned above, but if there was any way that Josh Eales (or, at least his journal or something) could have survived the warp process to this dimension that would be hilarious!

Edited by RustyNayle

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Posted (edited)

At the time Firaxis showed the ant-farm base to advertise their X-Com game I was totally hyped and saw it as a great idea.

My first reaction to the ant-farm base here was: Eww, like Firaxis X-Com.

And this is because I am not a real fan of that game, due to the nerfed down game-play, the game-breaking bugs and the shitty customer service of Firaxis/2K. Won't go into to much details...
So for me, everything that reminds me to the that X-Com is bad.

But as this is Goldhawk here, I have high hopes.

 

However, from a logicalpoint of view: If you have digged down to install labs you don't do it to left and right only, but circular. Gameplay-wise I understand this setup though.

Edited by thixotrop

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To address the discussion about layout: I'm sure that if there are bunkers like this out there in the real world then they have a very 3D layout, expanding in all directions. They would probably take up more space horizontally as digging down is more difficult than digging across. However, there is no need to recreate that perfectly. A fully 3D base wouldn't add anything because you'd wouldn't be able to see rooms that are behind one another. Although saying that, it is not as if you actually need to see all the rooms at once anyway but having it laid out as pictured above would let you see where all the staff are assigned in one glance.

Thinking about base construction, I did say before that the process of excavation is pretty uninspiring but I've been considering what would actually be interesting in this aspect of the game. Is it worth drawing upon other games which have a similar aspect nailed down pretty well? I'm thinking of games like Dungeon Keeper or Evil Genius where you engage in excavation with much more of a purpose to set the size and shape of rooms, and their position in relation to one another so that your minions can work more efficiently. In that sense, I'm imagining that scientist/engineering staff could have an output that is a function of how you arrange their living and working spaces. Beyond that, in those games I mentioned, excavating can actually be quite fun so I'm questioning what is it about the excavation in the XCOM base that makes it so much less enjoyable? I guess it is meant to be there as a limitation, inhibiting and frustrating the player. But then, if that is mostly what you're doing in that aspect of the game, being frustrated, then it is no wonder people dislike it.

The bit in the OP that has got me thinking is that Chris uses the term "bustling". I can really see the appeal there, that you invest effort throughout the game until you have a base that is a powerful hive of activity. A complete base is supposed to be the reward for the frustration and effort that comes before. The thing is though, the metaphor for XCOM base aesthetic is ant hive - truly, that only applies to the way it looks. In XCOM, the base doesn't do anything, rooms just provide a resource or enable a tab. What I'm getting at is that it would be interesting if the base could operate like a growing, living machine: a sense of motion internally, with clear inputs and outputs, and where activities in different sections are interdependent.  

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I like many of the ideas, particularly like the idea of spending readiness to get supplies constrained by store limit.
And I'm happy with a single base. It seems that there are enough numbers to keep us occupied at the strategic layer and I am not sure X-2 need building multiple bases over them.

However, my first impressions on the concept art: 1) Eww, XCOM Antfarm, 2) Missile silo does NOT look like that.

silo1.jpg.a0a24403c3cd8e518a028864723eb26d.jpgsilo2.jpg.46efdb5982e1ff52da751fa4cfe252ab.jpg

Perhaps, instead of expanding vertical and then horizontal, it can made to be horizontal then vertical. The formula won't change much, but the presentation and feeling may improves.

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Posted (edited)

Cannot remember but was the Atlas a liquid or solid fuel missile....if liquid you would need tanks to store the fuel safely.  If solid the fuel would be getting dangerous by now and the missile would have been removed and destroyed before it exploded--making a worthless hole in the ground or endangering anyone nearby.

 

Some old Atlas missile silos and surrounding areas have been sold to private individuals (after the missile, controllers, fuel and other stuff have been removed).  I've seen designs and pictures of the old bases as they were right after being sold and how the new owners have modified the silos.  Up until they were sold the US government had hired guards to protect the silos from others squatting on the silos.

Edited by Larry Burstyn
thought of something else.

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Ironically that's actually a TITAN-2 missile rather than an ATLAS missile - it's just the name ATLAS seems more thematically appropriate. In any case, there's not much chance of us moving to a 3D view for the base or re-doing the art to change the layout unless there was a critical gameplay reason for us doing so, as it'd be quite a big expense in terms of art and UI.

Power supply and excavation are indeed only in the game to slow down the early expansion of the base, but I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing. Taken in isolation it's always a good idea to expand your base early, but there's competing demands for your resources in X2 (rushing early tech, or expanding agent / interceptor coverage, etc) that mean it's not so clear-cut. Similarly you can make it so the lower levels (or the outer edges) of the base take longer to clear, giving the player a choice about how aggressively they want to pursue base expansion ... if at all.

That said, I do take the point made by @Ninothree that the adjacency bonuses could also be made something rather interesting. 

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3 hours ago, Chris said:

Ironically that's actually a TITAN-2 missile rather than an ATLAS missile - it's just the name ATLAS seems more thematically appropriate. In any case, there's not much chance of us moving to a 3D view for the base or re-doing the art to change the layout unless there was a critical gameplay reason for us doing so, as it'd be quite a big expense in terms of art and UI.

Power supply and adjacency are indeed only in the game to slow down the early expansion of the base, but I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing. Taken in isolation it's always a good idea to expand your base early, but there's competing demands for your resources in X2 (rushing early tech, or expanding agent / interceptor coverage, etc) that mean it's not so clear-cut. Similarly you can make it so the lower levels (or the outer edges) of the base take longer to clear, giving the player a choice about how aggressively they want to pursue base expansion ... if at all.

That said, I do take the point made by @Ninothree that the adjacency bonuses could also be made something rather interesting. 

I think you mean power supply and excavation (rather then adjacency) are only there to slow the players down. I do not think these and other delaying tactics in games are in there to be a bad thing...I think they are mainly there to provide a smoother player progression or economics curve. but if they only serve that purpose, they just aren't that interesting an aspect to play with from a players perspective

Taking Ninothree's suggestion to heart would make adjacency bonuses notably more interesting, I'm very curious in what sort of facility combo's you guys will come up with, and how you guys are going to hint these combo's to the players. (if atoll)

 

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8 hours ago, Conductiv said:

I think you mean power supply and excavation (rather then adjacency) are only there to slow the players down.

Whoops - yeah, you're right. I've edited the previous post to make my meaning clearer.

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15 hours ago, Conductiv said:

I think you mean power supply and excavation (rather then adjacency) are only there to slow the players down. I do not think these and other delaying tactics in games are in there to be a bad thing...I think they are mainly there to provide a smoother player progression or economics curve. but if they only serve that purpose, they just aren't that interesting an aspect to play with from a players perspective

I wonder if rebranding the excavation to be other things could be interesting. Given the shadow war aspect, maybe the ATLAS base isn't fully open to the commander. To get to the last floor, the commander has to research "Hack the Terminal" to open the doors. 

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@Shoes or, the story could be that the lower floors were irradiated when the core of a nuke spilled out. Not only do you need to Hack the Terminal, but you've got to do a clean up mission, both scrubbing the walls of fissile material and also fighting the subterranean zombie mutants of your previous playthrough...

Ahem. Yes, I'm sure there is a less ridiculous way to rebrand it. Though it is not just the excavation-image that is in question. It's the process. It just isn't that fun because it feels tedious. Conversely, there are elements of games that do something similar (slowdown) but are much more interesting (satisfaction rather than frustration). For example, when you level up in most RPGs it feels really cool because you get to unlock stuff. It is exciting and things light up like a pinball machine. So, if base expansion amounted to earning more space rather than assigning engineers to it, it might tap into that part of the brain which enjoys grinding xp/resources or whatever.

Having said all that, I do remember reading about the function of intentionally-irritating-frustration in games: it was an essential part of the old platformers. I've gone back to some of them with emulators, the ability to save frame (as opposed to going back to the beginning of the level) makes the game much less stressful but consequently less fun overall.

I guess my point here is that base building might do better to derive the 'punishing bad bit' from the negative connotations of the choices you make rather than whether or not you can remember why you dug out that square 2 months ago.

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I really didn't like the base building mini-game from XCOM2012, for reasons you mention. I wanted to maximize satellites in the sky, but I had to excavate, build a power plant, and build the satellite comm-link building; if I didn't start 23 days before the end of the month, I was out of luck! But I like the idea of being rewarded and "upgrading" the base, rather than feeling frustrated that I timed things incorrectly. Maybe there could be static ever-present missions where you need to raid a military base to steal required components. This way, your base expansion happens when you want it without needing a timetable; it also gives the player another reason to play with non-lethal weapons. The downside is you're spending readiness instead of currency to expand your base. Maybe you need to spend money to buy information of which base to plunder, or you need to bribe someone in order to purposefully leave a skeletal crew guarding the place.

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