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Xenonauts-2: ATLAS Base

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Yup. I think that the "23 day early rush" in XCOM was such a problem because getting satellites in the sky was the only thing you needed to do in the strategy layer for the first few months. The two numbers you paid attention to were panic and funding, satellites were the key to securing both. Notice that XCOM2 didn't carry that system forward. This is possibly why there has been so much hesitancy around the image in the top post: it brings back memories of a very uninspiring base building mini-game. Though, from what it says above, staffing as mechanic is going to take a bigger role and each decision you make there probably wont take 23 days to come to fruition.

The idea about raiding another base to get components to expand your own actually ties into one of @RustyNayle's posts about claiming sites elsewhere. Instead of taking the whole site for yourself (which would be a tactically poor choice as the location is known and the owner of the territory might not be too happy) you just pilfer the stuff you want. It could be a fairly well-moderated system too based on the difficulty of the raid missions: if your squad ain't tough enough, you can't steal that new component for your ATLAS base. 

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Yes, I was actually thinking the same thing.  If you successfully infiltrate or wipe out the defenders of an alien / advanced human manufacturing facility so you can study it, then it would enable you to upgrade your workshops or unlock the capability to manufacture more advanced equipment.  Likewise, if you discover a base dedicated to psionic research, then you can build a psi lab at your own base, etc  That's a much better idea, and fits in better with the cold war idea, Ninothree

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11 hours ago, RustyNayle said:

Yes, I was actually thinking the same thing.  If you successfully infiltrate or wipe out the defenders of an alien / advanced human manufacturing facility so you can study it, then it would enable you to upgrade your workshops or unlock the capability to manufacture more advanced equipment.  Likewise, if you discover a base dedicated to psionic research, then you can build a psi lab at your own base, etc 

That's definitely a cool idea - I like that a lot. Same to the idea of stealing things from alien bases to upgrade your own base too.

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On 5/8/2018 at 6:32 PM, Ninothree said:

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.

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.

I guess there's scope to give the players more choice in this regard; for example it's probably easy enough to make debris give items and construction materials as a reward and also give a player the option to instantly clear debris if they want. That means they either have the choice to sift through the base to recover materials and items or just junk everything that might potentially have proved useful and start building immediately.

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I am a fan of the original UFO: Enemy Unknown.

Part of the draw for me in regards to this game was the old school feel that matched the original game.

In UFO: EU, you could build specialist bases. A new base would have say, only research, and another base would have only manufacturing. For me this was a cool play-style.

How about, rather than "dumbing it down" to one "main base" you iterate on the above idea and have different countries give bonuses to different base specializations?

Say USA give a bonus to military bases placed there and USSR manufacturing, China research. Just examples but I am sure you get the idea. Also having different bases providing different funding was a core part of the strategy mechanic for me.

Not a fan of this new idea to be honest. Seems too much like chasing trends rather than sticking to "old school" roots.

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On 5/2/2018 at 10:36 AM, Larry Burstyn said:

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).

Along these lines, let's say you stuck with the 2-D ant farm map view, but you had a 'carousel' ability to go with that view in the way of left and right arrows.  These would 'spin' your view of the base to other adjacent buildings and further potential building areas along the N-S axis w/o the need to alter your art from 2-D to 3-D.  It'd also give you quite a lot more adjacency bonus potential and give the game more freedom than the Firaxis version.  

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I'm 100% in with Balabhadradas. In fact, I SOOO dislike this one base concept and cribbing from the FirXcom that I joined the forums.  Please reconsider!

I loved the strategy of trying to figure out how to distribute bases, response times from various different bases to try and distribute interceptors, trying to balance that.

If anything, I would've wanted to just see these real decision based aspects grow, rather than the artificial feeling decisions that you get with the one base concept.  A lot could be solved by re-balancing other aspects...for instance, you could have it be easier and more likely for aliens to invade, but bases are cheaper. Bases with interceptors would be particularly vulnerable. So then you'd have to balance where you put your interceptors and your troops and your research.

My biggest love of XN1 is that none of the decisions felt artificial. Binding you to 1 base feels the MOST artificial possible. It stops me from telling my own story, which is what I loved about this game.

 

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Yeah, I understand there may be some concerns about this. The one-base setup isn't set in stone; I think we need to do a bit of experimentation to see which version is better. It seems like the Kickstarter is going well enough we won't have to do a rush job on the rest of development so I'm confident we'll make the right decision in the end :)

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I backed Xenonauts early because I loved the idea of a real successor to X-Com (my favorite game of all time). One of the reasons I was so disappointed with nuCom is all the "streamlining" of the game mechanics.

There is a lot I could say about it actually, but I am tired and past my bedtime already. Suffice it to say I hope the player is given the freedom to play in the style they wish. People tend to think of open world games like GTA as "sandbox" games, and I have always thought of X-Com and TFTD as sandbox games in their own right. The game developer gives players a goal and the tools to accomplish that goal, but also gives them a lot of freedom in the way they can use the tools to reach said goal. Trusting the players to be creative with the tools given to them is (sadly) not very common anymore in game development.

That being said, I have backed the KS and I hope X2 is a great success!

 

P.S. - Remember, players can fix any poor dev decision ;) with the judicious application of a mod.

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Well... and again the single base, just because "majority" of players (who told you such a nonsense?) used "main" base+Hangars\radar facilities... 

As i`ve already speak last year in previouse "feature" fourm... I strongly disagree with FiraxisCom style in X2... and really hope to see true XCom successor in Xenonauts games, but this thread disapointing me.

Actually, I can accetp single base mechanics as one of the options for Xenonauts organisation`s facilities deployment, but never the only one. Multiple bases, whatever it used for, makes a sense of really global organisation and global confict it involved, single base in the middle of nowhere smells like a comedy evil genious hideout, not like humanyty last hope in fight against alien invasion.

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I'm still on board for one base. I never really found it that great to have to build another base just to set some more stuff up. Only real reason to do it was for interception which you do have in this game. Also, I personally have more faith in you to make a good one base system then Firaxis can.

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I usually build multiple bases, not only with hangars\radars, but with research, engeneering facilities, and with additional combat squads, for rotation of forces and\or base defence... and usually i lacked of base slots in X1 for all my purposes... and with disabling multiple base system X2 is very dissapointing for me (alongside with new "inventory" system, but i`ll speak about that in another topic).

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Posted (edited)

I've always thought that the multiple base system in X1 was a bit under developed feature and would thus welcome the new one main base system. The gameplay possibilities felt rather ostensible as there seemed to be just one or two feasible strategies to expand your organisation anyways. All the "unnecessary" options made that part of the game feel a bit unpolished. I always hate when a game has options and choises that are there just to make things seem more complex. I'd rather make fewer choises that actually matter.

Edited by Skitso
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Just now, Skitso said:

I've always thought that the multiple base system in the X1 was a bit under developed feature and would thus welcome the new one main base system. The gameplay possibilities felt rather ostensible as there seemed to be just one or two feasible strategies to expand your organisation. All the "unnecessary" options made that part of the game feel a bit unpolished. I always hate when a game has options and choises that are there just to make things seem more complex. I'd rather make fewer choises that actually matter.

single base mean that there will be ONLY ONE strategy to expand... and it`s awfull to play game, where is not any alternative. (Firaxis XCOMs for example- if you dont build your base the only possible way you will loose sooner or later).

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While it's not a deal breaker for me (given that there are other aspects of this game that make up for it) I really do not like the idea of using the Ant Farm concept for a base, I didn't mind it the Xcom remake, but I ended up hating it in the sequel. 

I know there's no way to change it right now which is why I won't fret about it (what's the point?) but if there is a return to the top-down view at some point in the series, then having a multi-layered base would be cool (and if the aliens destroy the top layer, then you gotta work to recover, fix it, and then rebuild it, before you can even think of going back out and fighting again thus giving the aliens time to do some of their own projects, bombarding cities, killing leaders, etc.. etc... etc....) 

 

 

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Having one base imposes a limit. You can't end up with stacks and stacks of science resource because you're limited by space. It will reduce the expansionist feel of the game, but this isn't Civ. The real problem with XCOM's ant-hive is that there were so few ways to approach it. Especially in XCOM:EU when the satellite rush was mandatory. Comparing a one-base system to a multi-base system is quite difficult given the fact that what the new base will do isn't defined yet. All it implies is that you face a hard limit on space. The functionality of the rooms could be so very different that options are opened up for loads of new play styles, potentially even more than with multi-bases. It just depends on how the rooms work and the mechanics the one-base can offer (which aren't visible if all you are thinking in terms of is the old system).

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2 hours ago, Ninothree said:

Having one base imposes a limit. You can't end up with stacks and stacks of science resource because you're limited by space. It will reduce the expansionist feel of the game, but this isn't Civ. The real problem with XCOM's ant-hive is that there were so few ways to approach it. Especially in XCOM:EU when the satellite rush was mandatory. Comparing a one-base system to a multi-base system is quite difficult given the fact that what the new base will do isn't defined yet. All it implies is that you face a hard limit on space. The functionality of the rooms could be so very different that options are opened up for loads of new play styles, potentially even more than with multi-bases. It just depends on how the rooms work and the mechanics the one-base can offer (which aren't visible if all you are thinking in terms of is the old system).

The main problem of single base system is that there almost guaranteed will be only ONE strategy to expand that base, with wich game could be played... single base is... extremely artificial limit for player`s possibilities and gameplay variativity.

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Idea: Hiding-from-UFO-event

Imagine a cut-scene (a big picture and some text might be enough) where the alarms go off and you are told that a stealthy scout UFO has appeared within 200 km of your homebase.
You now have to choose how to handle the crisis.

1. Launch your fighters? - If the fighters cannot intercept the UFO fast enough, it may discover the location of your base - or at least the airport the fighters launched from.
2. Switch the radar to passive to avoid revealing the location of your radar dish? - It will be hard to track the stealthy UFO without active radar. You could keep the base in low power mode for days without knowing whether the UFO has left or is still scanning the area. You might have to wait for a visual confirmation - either by soldiers on the ground, or if the UFO approaches within 10 km of the base.
2b. If you told the base to power down, but the scout sweeps to within 10km anyway, then you have the option of deploying the bases pop-up defenses - powerful artillery and missile platforms that are concealed underground but can be elevated to the surface to protect the base against UFOs.
3. Do you want to call an allied airbase and have them attack the UFO's as a diversion so it looks for your in another direction?

Whatever you do, it has different consequences. If you go silent and the UFO passes overhead without spotting the bases power signature, then it will be a long time before the UFOs scan the region again. But if you engaged the UFO and won, the aliens will not wait long to send out a second scout to see what happened to the first. At worst, the UFO could destroy your radar, your airfield, or even damage the powerplant. And if you do not engage the UFO, and it detects you, you might have a full on ground-combat invasion-force to deal with.

I firmly believe, that adding small story-events with just pictures and text, could boost Xenonauts 2 to an entirely new level, compared to all the other spin-offs.

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@Cain Atreides the stealth base event there sounds a lot like the geoscape events that are in the works. 

@Severvus I completely agree that if there is only one way to build your base then it will be a limited mechanic. However, what I'm arguing is that it is not impossible for there to be many feasible ways for you to build a base. If the rooms do something really basic like simply provide +5 to resource then the base will be like levelling up a character in an RPG - that is a really simple example, but the complicated bit would be in setting up the game such that it is a viable strategy to spam either laboratories or workshops. Then you have at least two strategies to choose depending on your play style, just like an RPG, you can devote points into certain character traits which is interesting even if you only have one character. (Also, I haven't heard it confirmed that multiple bases are definitely off the table, maybe chuck goldhawk another 50k to change their minds ;) )

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7 hours ago, Ninothree said:

 

 I completely agree that if there is only one way to build your base then it will be a limited mechanic. However, what I'm arguing is that it is not impossible for there to be many feasible ways for you to build a base. If the rooms do something really basic like simply provide +5 to resource then the base will be like levelling up a character in an RPG - that is a really simple example, but the complicated bit would be in setting up the game such that it is a viable strategy to spam either laboratories or workshops. Then you have at least two strategies to choose depending on your play style, just like an RPG, you can devote points into certain character traits which is interesting even if you only have one character. (Also, I haven't heard it confirmed that multiple bases are definitely off the table, maybe chuck goldhawk another 50k to change their minds ;) )

I can`t agree with you in term that thre could be any way to avoid single base development strategy, that is not push you toward loosing the game, its impossible whatever it looks like. Actually, the only matter for my opposition several new mechanics in X2 (single base, deleting of inventory and new air combat) is that I`ve seen this all already in XCOM by Firaxis. Yes, in that game all this looks good, but(!) it is already there, and personally I don`t need another XCOM under a different name, i`d rather play XCOM\XCOM2 itself. The main good thing, that was in X1 is that it was good and right successor for UFO:EU, and X1 was the thing UFO fans was need... and I was hope that in X2 old good gameplay will be upgraded, made deeper and more interesting, but what i see here? Tons of artificial limits, extreme gameplay simplification and stupid cloning of XCOM... it is not the way Xenonauts should go... and I think, that many X1 fans will agree with me.

 

For example how base mechanic could be reworked:

First of all there may be options between single base (may be here is someone who like sit in mad scientist hideout), classical multiple bases, and "guerilla" style.

If you choose single base, everything is simple- you place it on the map and get really BIG facility (at least tripple big to ATLAS base here), wich has it`s own airfield, hangars, radar array etc. But there will be some troubles:

1. It is very simpe to detect because of high heat production, high logistic traffic, and\or high energy production\consumption

2. it is limited with internal space, so you cant get really everything you want

3. You need to infiltrate in government\civillian airfields\radar stations to expand your interceptors range\radar cover.

For power supply of that base you may build your own power plants or hack in nearby power lines, but in that case someone (aliens or local government) may start investigation about unexpected power drain.

 

If you choose classical multiple bases... well we`ve already see it all in X1, but I think, that there will be a good thing to make secondary bases more specialized: scientific, industry, radar, airfield or military base... ofcourse specialization just mean, that some % of base structures must be of that category. Second good thing, I think would be logistic between bases- if you tranfer personal, alien captives, planes or items from one base to another, or buy something in outher world, it is not just dissapear from base 1 and spawn in base 2 after several hours, but it is phisically transported over the globe by land, air or sea, and it could be intercepted by locals, or by aliens (and there could be new mission type- cargo defence).

 

And last one- if you choose "guerilla" style... well... you will not have any "central" base at all, nstead you will start with some personal and must infiltrate them inside government facilities- scientists in universities or labs, soldiers in military bases and airfields, workers on factories etc. And with that you will play at start. After some time you wil get enough funds o buy your own labs\factories etc, but it is still extremely small, so in case of danger you barely can defend it. But in this case Xenonauts activity will be very hard to detect, exept logistic, that will be very dense and regular.

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I know this is a divisive issue. I mentioned above that this isn't set in stone and we'll be evaluating it in playtesting, but I think it's worth me taking a bit more time to expand my position and explain the considerations. 

When I originally wrote this post I felt quite strongly about the single-base idea, but more recently a few things have made me start to think that perhaps it would be better to return to the X1 system of having multiple bases on the Geoscape where you can freely build structures at and assign staff / aircraft. Moving over to the X1 system is not a small task, but I'm perfectly happy to do it if I think it will improve the final game.

So what's the advantage of having one base?

  • Less coder time spent implementing the base systems.
  • The UI can be less cluttered and easier to understand without the need to support multiple bases.
  • You can limit the construction space available to the player with a single base, with multiple bases they can just build another base if they run out of space. This means the space taken up by a structure is basically irrelevant and the only thing that matters when you build them is how much they cost.
  • There is a single "main" base for the aliens to attack, meaning your best troops are always available to defend the base but you lose the game if you lose the mission. This makes them an excellent way to cut short a campaign that is going badly for the player (or get them back in the game if they somehow win).
  • In X1 building anything other than Hangars and Radars in your secondary bases was playing badly; giving players the option to do it was essentially just setting traps for newbies to fall into.

So even if you think the benefits of having multiple bases outweighs the costs, you must still accept that there are costs associated with multiple bases. So why might we want to support multiple bases?

  • It makes the game feel bigger and more complex.
  • Giving the player the freedom to make the wrong choice isn't necessarily a bad thing (as @Nanosystem mentions above). Sometimes it's fun to do creative and interesting stuff in a game, even if you know it's not actually the optimal thing to do.
  • I'd like the Field Agents to exist on the Geoscape in the same way as your interceptors, which means that in X2 there might be a reason to build more than just Hangars and Radars. In which case, there's an argument for having proper bases.
  • Even if X2 does not make good use of multiple bases, the modding community may do - so sticking to a single base may negatively affect the mods for X2.
  • The ATLAS base concept falls down a little in the real-time Geoscape, because it's in a fixed location and the dropship needs to fly around the world (which means the position of the base matters). Also, building things like planes etc with your Engineers is possible but awkward when there's no Hangars in your main base.

In my head, I figure we could probably find some way to balance the construction space stuff. I do genuinely want to keep the Threat / base attack mechanics though - it's really useful to have things that will either end a campaign that is slowly failing or get the player back into the game. The DEFCON counter is a good way of ending a campaign early if the player loses strategic control, but I feel there should be something to counterbalance the player going for a very Geoscape-heavy strategy and neglecting their combat team. Having the aliens attack your base is a good way to do that. However, that doesn't necessarily mean we can't have multiple bases. Your first base could always be your "main" base, the one with the Command Room that you have to protect at all costs.

So the key question then becomes - what's the actual gameplay purpose of allowing the player to have multiple bases? In X1 it was only ever worth building your secondary bases into interceptor bases. Instead of removing the extra functionality, we could find a way to make use of it. Ideally this would also be something tied to the placement of the base; right now the only consideration when you place it is how much territory the radar circle would cover.

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The ATLAS base and the Geoscape are inextricably linked. To talk about one is to talk about the other as both feed into each other. With that established, perhaps we should talk about the direction the geoscape/strategy section is going, and the relevance of ATLAS vis. the geoscape. 

Unlike X-Com and XCOM, in X1, the strategic element of the game did not exist to chiefly serve ground combat. The air war, which was conducted from the Geoscape was a very important part of the game, so X1's Geoscape moved away from choosing where next to put boots on the ground towards a more Grand Strategy-esque type of game. I see the same thing happening in X2, only more so. The introduction of Field Agents is similar in nature to the placement of agents (merchants, spies, diplomats and what-have-you) in games like Europa Universalis, Civilisation or even Total War. The capital in such games is usually is the most developed "city". You generally get special bonuses from the capital, and only certain things can be done from the capital. Towns and cities around the capital may not even have the same function as capitals - they generally exist as economic units or forts, depending on the situation. 

If you think about X2 from a Grand Strategy perspective, ATLAS base would represent the players capital. This starting base has the labratories, the workshops, the barracks - everything that you need to start a game with is all tied into ATLAS. It is more likely that a player is going to invest the most funding into the starting base as the nucleus is present. From looking at LPs of X1, labs are never built in another base, and if workshops are built in another base it's because that base is designed as a specific manufacturing plant. If ATLAS were treated as the capital, you could have ATLAS as a unique location with specific benefits that you can't replicate anywhere else. Perhaps ATLAS could have unique facilities such as a Field Operations Room which grants bonuses to a team of field agents, or a Chief Scientists Lab which might grant perhaps research into a research topic and a development topic at the same time. Perhaps ATLAS is the place where Field Agents go to get trained, or where research for Field Agents takes place. 

Looking at other bases from a Grand Strategy perspective, these would represent the towns and cities ringing the capital. Towns and cities were economic units. They were also the fingers for the capital. You used towns and cities to station your military and diplomatic forces before sending them out and to magnify their effectiveness. Rather than think in terms of a traditional X-Com base, you might instead want to think in terms of a nerve center and a set of specialised operations. Let me give an example. From the X2 kickstarter.

Quote

 

"We can't risk dealing with funding regions directly, Commander - too many infiltrators. We rely on a network of individuals willing to 'misplace' things in the name of the cause ... a few crates of supplies, the odd helicopter, maybe a few million dollars here and there.

There's risks, of course - mostly revolving around getting murdered by aliens - but someone has to do it. Each individual person plays only a small role, but everything we do relies on their collective support. Our backers are just as much a part of this war as we are.

 

A secondary "base" could represent the warehousing, logistics and expertise to more effectively bilk resources from infiltrated governments. The "base" grants a multiplier from a funding area. Now you have field agents, a secondary base could instead represent a network of safehouses and a field operations center. Or it may instead represent several different airfields tied together by a single local HQ. An attack on a secondary base would always be on the nerve center, whether that's the field ops, the airfield HQ, or the warehouse office. Secondary bases could be more than a smaller-scale replication of the main base, if they're considered more on a Grand Strategy aspect, and less as a smaller-scale replication of the first base.  That being said, to allow players to make their own way, you might have a base-like structure which you add the various secondary modules to straight out of UFO: Aftershock. So secondary base X has Y modules so you could have a little bit of everything, or you might specialise more deeply into a particular field. 

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Posted (edited)

Whatever Chris ends up doing with the geoscape, I just hope the main focus is kept in the tactical ground missions that are (or at least in my opinion, should be) the meat and potatoes of Xenonauts. All the talk about field agents etc. make me feel unease about it. I really hope the game doesn't change into a Civilization - X1 had just about the maximum amount of strategy involved to my taste. Also, missions where you are not in direct control, but just send people away and see results later (like Brotherhood missions in Assassin's Creed) feel like unnecessary fluff and game content padding.

Edited by Skitso

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Posted (edited)

Multiple bases are used to extends present and influences, typically to safeguard a remote resources or to stage and project military forces.  Cities in civ is an example, but they are also a kind of resource by themselves so I think the bases in RTS and xcom-like games would be a closer match.

I personally like the single base idea very much (can we deviate from antfarm?), so I'll get that out of the way first.  I agree everything Chris said, and hope that the space will proves to be more of a constrain than XCOM EC or XCOM 2, at least in higher difficulty, so that players must make trade-offs in facility upgrades towards the endgame. (Because just building facilities is not interesting enough; there are only so many slots to dig and fill.  Upgrades multiplies the decisions to be made.)

I think the digging game can be spiced up a bit, like the "radiation spill" mentioned above.  If we show only rooms adjacent of cleared rooms , and block off nuclear spills until certain tech is researched or developed, that becomes a mini-mine swapper.  The spills can either be cleared, recycled for production, or left alone until player research a way to build a power plant over it for bonus power.  A simpler alternative is one or two "hidden level" that reveals after some conditions, turning base construction into two to three phases and better maintain the space pressure through the game.

Also, non-optimal choice is not same as trap choice.  Trap choices are simply traps.

5 hours ago, Chris said:

What's the actual gameplay purpose of allowing the player to have multiple bases?

Depends on what players can do on the geoscape.  A full featured base just to support a few agents is I think not make sense or very interesting.  But non-military branches can provide local reputation, regional bonus, and other supports.  A base in Europe may let you steal more time from CERN and speed up research.  Asia, development.  Africa, production.  North America, income. etc.  They may also give you early alert of UFO and alien activities, granting bonus or advantages in interceptions, operations, and missions.  Damaged fighters can be repaired faster, operations earn more experience, local force guaranteed or boosted in tactical mission etc.  Recruits can be done only from these branches instead of from the remote main base.  (And if a player wants to bias certain skin tones, they know where to open branches.)  Regional events another interesting potential.  Like a kangaroo burger event if Xeno has a branch on Oceania.  Or North Korea trying to sell nuclear materials, on a more serious tone.

Of course we can also make them fully functional base.  Most of us should all be familiar with that implementation.  A few suggestions above can still applies, to introduce more location factors than geography. (Which is not simple but as we already know tends to lead to one optimised solution.)

One more thing I want to say is I think single base / multi-base is not necessary tied to real time / turn based.  On a real time geoscape, Xeno operators can order supplies to an iceland port for quicker and constant but non-zero pickup time.  On mission trips, dropshop can be required to land mid-way for refuel.  Add a mandatory maintenance time after every mission, and mission travel time will be bracketed into a semi-constant like turn based geoscope.

Edited by Sheepy

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