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Xenonauts-2: Air Combat

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We currently have an enhanced version of the “autoresolve” air combat functioning in Xenonauts-2, but there's no equivalent to the interception minigame from the first game where you took manual control of your aircraft. We're planning to further develop the existing autoresolve into a new air combat system rather than using a combat system that relies on a fundamentally different set of skills than the rest of the game (e.g. being able to time your interceptor dodge rolls properly etc).

The basic concept is that air combat no longer takes the form of a dogfight, but instead represents your interceptors performing a single high-speed attack run on the target. Your job is to inflict enough damage to the UFO in a single run to shoot it down - if you don't inflict enough, the interception attempt has failed. Naturally, the UFO will also get to attack you back.

We plan to iterate and develop this concept as development continues; we don't have a "final" design for this part of the game quite yet so there's plenty of scope for us to incorporate community feedback.

There are several new systems to read about in this post, including:

 

Geoscape Airbases & Interceptor Squadrons:

Aircraft are now housed directly on the Geoscape in special "airbases". This isn't actually a particularly big change, because these airbases have been designed specifically to replicate the functionality of the interceptor bases that many people built in the first Xenonauts which only contained Hangars and Radar Arrays. 

Each hangar can hold a single squadron of interceptors, which contain five aircraft of the same type that collectively behave much like a single interceptor in the first Xenonauts - except losing planes allows a squadron to take damage in a more "permanent" way than was possible in X1 without the interceptor being entirely destroyed. There are multiple types of interceptor in the game, they can be moved / disbanded like in X1, and interceptor types can now also be individually upgraded by research / engineering projects (e.g. Falcon Speed Upgrade).

Radars were initially placed on the airbases but we're likely to move radar coverage onto each region itself so that there are less "optimal" base placement locations. Putting a base in a region like the Middle East was the obvious choice in the first Xenonauts because it covered so many regions, but if you have to buy radar coverage for each region separately then the decision becomes slightly more interesting - that Middle East base will still protect lots of territory, but you'll have to buy a lot of radar coverage to use it to its full effectiveness.

Destroyed planes are currently replaced ten days after they are shot down, which makes the interception decision a bit more interesting in X2 than it was in X1 - it's not just a question of whether you can shoot down a UFO, it's about whether you want to take the losses that will occur as a result.

 

Interception Attack Run:

The first stage of the interception run is to try and catch the UFO in the first place, which is handled the same was as it is in Xenonauts 1.

If you do successfully intercept the UFO, you can then perform an attack run against it. At the moment this is a fairly simple auto-resolve system - you just add up the damage done by all the interceptor squadrons and if that exceeds the UFO hitpoints, you've successfully shot it down. Complicating this slightly is the fact that different interceptors do differing amounts of damage against Light and Heavy UFOs, e.g. the Falcon is more effective against Light UFOs and the Foxhound is more effective against Heavy UFOs. You also have to account for the fact that squadrons that are not at full strength inflict less damage.

After you check whether the attack was successful, you calculate losses inflicted by the UFO. The UFOs have an attack that attempts a certain number of attacks against your interceptors - e.g. a Scout UFO might do 5 x 40% rolls (assuming you have enough interceptors present). Each attack is rolled independently, so although there would be an average of 2 destroyed interceptors the actual number could be anything from 0 to 5.

The 40% kill chance is also modified downwards by the interceptor's armour value, so facing a 5 x 20% UFO can be a rather different proposition from fighting a 2 x 50% UFO if your interceptors have 15% armour.

 

Further Development:

Everything mentioned above is already functioning in the game; I think it creates a good foundation for a new air combat system. However we have a lot more ideas for how it could be improved and developed - we just need to decide which ideas we want to test, and whether we want to keep them after testing. This is an area where I think community feedback would be immensely useful, so I look forward to the closed beta when people can start giving us their thoughts.

The primary thing I want from this system is for it to present the player with some interesting decisions but do so in a clear and concise way - e.g. I don't want the player to have to read through dozens of lines of stats to figure out what type of threat a UFO poses to the Xenonaut interceptors.

With that in mind, I think the obvious areas for future improvement include:

  • Interceptor Equipment - I think the system would be improved if we had fewer types of interceptor, but each had several equipment slots you could swap out. For instance if your starting Falcon jets have three slots, you could choose to swap out a weapon system to add afterburners in order to create a squadron specialised for chasing down fast Scout UFOs ... or just choose weapons that specialise the interceptor for a certain type of combat (e.g. fighting Heavy UFOs).
  • Long / Short Range Phases - at the moment the combat happens in a single phase, and both sides get to fire all their weapons. Resolving the attacks and damage in a Long Range phase before moving onto a Short Range phase would make combat much more complex (which could be both good or bad). Having different UFOs and interceptor weapons that specialise at different Ranges gives the player more choices to make, and it also allows the possibility that units with Short Range weapons could be destroyed in the Long Range Phase before they have a chance to attack.
  • UFO Variants - currently a Scout UFO has a specific weapon and set of stats, but I don't think it would be too hard to create several variants of it that all create the same crashsite if shot down but pose slightly different problems on the Geoscape - e.g. variants could be abnormally fast, abnormally tough, or just one of several possible weapons

What I think works well about this sort of air combat is we can probably easily have a top-down view of the UFO with some degree of colour-coding / contextual art that shows at a glance how powerful a UFO is in each area. For instance, if a UFO is very fast you could show a lot of plasma exhaust coming out of the back of the ship, and you could probably represent the weapon with a red band in the appropriate phase of combat - a 5x20% attack would be thin but wide red band, and a 1x100% attack would be thick but very narrow band.

That said, all of these ideas are just ideas at this stage - I look forward to reading and considering the ideas that the community put forward too, as they might have something that works even better!

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This is something I'd be most interested in beta testing. Traditionally, games in this genre have fallen short in the interception department - normally it is just a reflection of how your research is going rather than any strategy/tactics. If Goldhawk can nail this aspect then it would be a huge achievement.

From the sounds of the above, there will be some meaningful decision-making for the player. My initial thought is that the long/short phase could be something like launching a missile salvo from far away (high damage, low asset recovery) vs pinpoint targeting with autocannon fire (less damage but more loot). I think I have FTL in mind with ship-to-ship combat, where targeting particular systems made up your strategy - however, given the hit 'n run nature of interceptions described above, doing system-damage might not be as meaningful when you are always just trying to ground your opponent.

Sounds good anyway; I'm glad to see all these announcements up!

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Posted (edited)

I do like the move to squadrons of interceptors, instead of single interceptors, even if it just thematic. Likewise hopefully you will hire ten scientists/engineers at time so that your staff is in the hundreds.

I agree with Ninothree, the air combat is a chance to substantially improve the game and do something different.

Maybe each interceptor could be given orders each turn: Evade, Engage, Withdraw, Fire etc. that alter the chance of hitting or being hit. That might add some Rock-paper-scissors element where you are trying to guess which interceptor the UFO will attack so that it can evade, while your others move into attack positions. Different UFOs could have different strategies or weapon systems (long range attacks, chafe, ability to target multiple interceptors at different ranges etc).

Edited by FloridaBoy

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21 minutes ago, FloridaBoy said:

 Likewise hopefully you will hire ten scientists/engineers at time so that your staff is in the hundreds.

With the setting being 2015, and with each personnel consuming power, I could see supercomputers and robotics being used by scientists and engineers in such a way as not to need x10 the personnel but still being able to figure out alien tech.

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Depends how far you want to go on the realism side. For example in X1 I played through with 15 scientists and 15 engineers. Those thirty guys made prototype spacecraft and singularity cannons etc in less than a year.  By contrast the Manhattan project employed 450,000 people.  Sure computers help, but there are probably a hundred scientists studying Moose biology right now. Similarly the XM 25 has been in delvopment of almost a decade, I’d bet there are at least 50 people working on that single weapon system. The company that designed it, Orbital ATK, employs 4,000 scientists and engineers according to their Wikipedia entry. So have 200 scientists on staff isn’t that crazy.

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I loved the idea of autoresolve and airstriking UFOs enabling players the choice of giving up certain gains in order to avoid repeated intercept / ground combat missions and focus on other parts of the game. It sounds like you're making interception a bit more cinematic, rather than a top-down dogfight (a la Star Control), which also sounds like a great improvement. Hit and run is essential when the aliens have far greater tech, but what do you think about the idea of later boarding larger airborne / ships in space once the Xenonauts' propulsion and armor is great enough to get that close for long enough to send troops across?

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8 hours ago, RustyNayle said:

what do you think about the idea of later boarding larger airborne / ships in space

My gut instinct is that that idea would look great in XCOM but be visually less exciting in Xenonauts. Having said that, it would add a neat twist to air combat, that eventually you don't even need to shoot down the UFO, just board it directly.

In terms of the interception chance and readiness mechanics: I have this feeling that they could be made a lot more fun if they are about something deeper than just pressing one force against another and betting on a few rolls of the dice. My thinking is that a wave of UFOs could have a specific mission and the player's objective is to thwart their mission as opposed to just shooting down the UFOs themselves. So you've got to out-think them as much as out-gun them. This was present to a degree in the last game, with bombers and terror ships having their civilian targets and subsidiary fighter escorts - you take down the main craft quickly and the job is done. Expanding the choices to make here would require a few more options than 'intercept and engage'. So perhaps you could order pilots to do recon, go on patrol, escort friendlies or rest. Recon could counter activity aliens are trying to keep secret, like infiltration. Patrol would offer higher intercept chance in a particular area. Escort would help relations or prevent relations loss. The player would need some clues upon which to make these decisions, maybe that could be the role of intel.

Essentially, this comes from the reflection that no military would send out waves of their own craft with little strategy behind their actions, unless they were scraping away in a war of attrition. The aliens wouldn't risk gifting you their technology with something like an obvious and easily countered bombing run. 

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2 hours ago, Ninothree said:

Expanding the choices to make here would require a few more options than 'intercept and engage'. So perhaps you could order pilots to do recon, go on patrol, escort friendlies or rest. Recon could counter activity aliens are trying to keep secret, like infiltration. Patrol would offer higher intercept chance in a particular area. Escort would help relations or prevent relations loss. The player would need some clues upon which to make these decisions, maybe that could be the role of intel.

Those ideas sound great, and easily abstracted. 

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In games like the Warlords series, a TBS game in fantasy settings, combat resolution is also turn-based, and quite frustrating for the novice, because the units are sent to battle one after the other, fight to its death, when it's replaced, and you are pretty sure to loose the first of them. Perhaps it could be interesting to analyze why this kind of combat resolution is indeed more complex than it seems. Basically, units have individual assets and roles (buffs, powers, applying either to itself ,or to the whole squadron)), the group (squadron) leader has assets (applying to its squadron), and the player too has assets (applying to all the squadrons) that add and negate before the dies are rolled. Some of the ideas below seem to oppose the "covert operations" paradigm, and perhaps should be discarded or adapted.

  • Depending on the enemy's intel or experience (or difficulty setting), long-range interceptors could be used as decoys and hares during the short-range phase. In Xenonauts-1, the aliens know when an interceptor has no munitions left. The result would be that losses would be spread among all the aircraft, and not only the short-range ones. Alternatively, long-range squadrons could be allowed to withdraw once their job done (even long-range aircraft in a single squadron? Say that they go near the enemy but don't attack and or less exposed?).
  • One of the slots on one of a squadron's interceptor could be a smart ECM or a smart CECM.
  • One of the slots could be a targeting/designation  system that would help any missile homing its target.
  • In another games, AI craft (mostly wing men, if I remember) can be set on a more aggressive, a more (self-)defensive, or a more protective (escort) setting. If the air combat doesn't involve several phases, these settings could be a way to adapt the tactics to the enemy of the day.
  • The resolution system could include a "focus order" parameter that would slightly shift the chance that any targeted aircraft would be belong to the loss (instead of equal chances for all, as I guess). This feature would be "double-edged" as it would be fought against by "de-focusing measures". As an example, if the aliens detect that an interceptor is equipped with CECM ware, this one interceptor could well be the first shot down (or the first attacked, rather). If we now consider that (or when) said electronic warfare aircraft is better protected than the other planes, this could result in a fewer number of casualties as the aliens would have focused on a more capable target.
  • One of the political goal could be to be allowed by nations a single, or a limited number of, nuclear strike when the situation is urging (a full squadron of powerful UFOs).
  • Surviving pilots could gain in experience and an experienced squadron leader could benefit to all his squad fellows. To alleviate some of the inevitable frustration, a squadron leader could have a joker card, that is a second chance to survive to lethal shot (or a lethal attack run).
  • Default settings could be like an automatic loss when shot down over sea, and a chance for the pilot to die whenever an interceptor is struck (disintegrates in the air). One of the new techs could be to greatly enhance the pilots' survivibility. As these were settings, they could be modded up or down.
  • I read that squadrons will be homogeneous, so how to manage a short/long range combo, or an escorted long-range squadron? Only with varied slot equipment?
  • Will it be possible to set rendezvous and bind the actions of several squadrons together? Perhaps allowing for up to three squadrons from several bases to perform the same air mission? (the same way that in Xenonauts-1, three aircraft from the same base could be assigned the same interception mission).
  • Air bombing a crashed down UFO could be handled by the Xenonauts. If we let the nations do the job by themselves, we get less spoil. Moreover, a limited bombing could be a mean to soften ground resistance before a team can reach the crash site. Even a full scale (obliterating) bombing could fail and result in degraded crash site (more destruction around). The idea would require to kill or wound some alien units  (the same way some are killed during the crash), only outside of the UFO, this time. This shouldn't become a routine tactics, however, as this would divert some of our air resources from their primary purpose.
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Being able to modify base frames vs having a lot of interceptors does make things a lot more flexible and personalized. I think some risk/reward of long range vs short range battles makes sense - launching missiles at a short range UFO could mean you take it down without damage, but if it doesn't your more missile platform ships are more vulnerable. If you had some agile dogfighters with a scrambling module or something they could have a good chance of evading long range attacks and shredding the UFO once they got close.

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Personally I'm hoping the long/short range phases make it in. It would make weapons and gear more interesting, missiles vs. cannons, UFO effectiveness at different ranges, speed vs. armor, etc.

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I think airstrikes would be used very sparingly in a secret / cold war setting, especially with alternate powers using war planes in the airspace of sovereign nations.  Maybe you can only do it on friendly ground?  The chance that civilians will be alerted to what is going on would be very high though, so it would still have political consequences.

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On 4/28/2018 at 4:15 PM, FloridaBoy said:

Maybe each interceptor could be given orders each turn: Evade, Engage, Withdraw, Fire etc. that alter the chance of hitting or being hit. That might add some Rock-paper-scissors element where you are trying to guess which interceptor the UFO will attack so that it can evade, while your others move into attack positions. Different UFOs could have different strategies or weapon systems (long range attacks, chafe, ability to target multiple interceptors at different ranges etc).

That sounds a bit more complex than what we're planning - it's not actually turn-based, you issue your orders before the attack run begins and then watch the combat play out. I think there's potential to add "stances" to the interceptors in the vein of what the original X-Com did ... so a Cautious Attack may do less damage but grant the squadron a higher dodge chance, whereas an Aggressive Attack would maximise both damage inflicted and recieved. The only thing is that this system achieves many of the same things as giving the interceptors a customisable weapon loadout, so I'm not sure we'd have space for both ... and I think I prefer the weapon loadout system because that's something that can be upgraded as your tech level increases.

On 4/29/2018 at 8:12 AM, RustyNayle said:

I loved the idea of autoresolve and airstriking UFOs enabling players the choice of giving up certain gains in order to avoid repeated intercept / ground combat missions and focus on other parts of the game. It sounds like you're making interception a bit more cinematic, rather than a top-down dogfight (a la Star Control), which also sounds like a great improvement. Hit and run is essential when the aliens have far greater tech, but what do you think about the idea of later boarding larger airborne / ships in space once the Xenonauts' propulsion and armor is great enough to get that close for long enough to send troops across?

It's not a bad idea, but the main issue here is the ground combat mission it produces - you'd just be fighting inside a UFO with no exterior area. This turns a UFO assault mission into something that looks and plays very much like a UFO Base Attack mission. If there's a way to make the UFO different from an alien base the idea might be worth exploring.

On 4/29/2018 at 5:46 PM, Ninothree said:

In terms of the interception chance and readiness mechanics: I have this feeling that they could be made a lot more fun if they are about something deeper than just pressing one force against another and betting on a few rolls of the dice. My thinking is that a wave of UFOs could have a specific mission and the player's objective is to thwart their mission as opposed to just shooting down the UFOs themselves. So you've got to out-think them as much as out-gun them. This was present to a degree in the last game, with bombers and terror ships having their civilian targets and subsidiary fighter escorts - you take down the main craft quickly and the job is done. Expanding the choices to make here would require a few more options than 'intercept and engage'. So perhaps you could order pilots to do recon, go on patrol, escort friendlies or rest. Recon could counter activity aliens are trying to keep secret, like infiltration. Patrol would offer higher intercept chance in a particular area. Escort would help relations or prevent relations loss. The player would need some clues upon which to make these decisions, maybe that could be the role of intel.

Essentially, this comes from the reflection that no military would send out waves of their own craft with little strategy behind their actions, unless they were scraping away in a war of attrition. The aliens wouldn't risk gifting you their technology with something like an obvious and easily countered bombing run. 

Hmmm, I'm not really sure I see how this would work in the context of the Geoscape. I take your point about the fact the current invasion setup doesn't require much tactical thinking to pick it apart, but what you proposed there doesn't sound like it'd be very interactive?

On 5/5/2018 at 5:55 PM, erutan said:

Being able to modify base frames vs having a lot of interceptors does make things a lot more flexible and personalized. I think some risk/reward of long range vs short range battles makes sense - launching missiles at a short range UFO could mean you take it down without damage, but if it doesn't your more missile platform ships are more vulnerable. If you had some agile dogfighters with a scrambling module or something they could have a good chance of evading long range attacks and shredding the UFO once they got close.

Yes, that'd certainly be an interesting outcome. Right now there's no damage randomisation on the interceptor weapons (so you always know whether you'll bring down the UFO or not) but the long term plan is to add it in; that would give the effect you're referring to here if we were to implement the long / short range phases.

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13 hours ago, Chris said:

...the current invasion setup doesn't require much tactical thinking to pick it apart [something something] interactive

Ok, in a simple sense, the geoscape is a system where you give orders to interact with UFOs that then spawns a ground combat mission i.e. track them on the radar, shoot them down, then send a Skyranger. All the activity there is very clustered: you get a period of inactivity, a wave launches, you do the geoscape thing, then the mission. Admittedly, in X1, you could send a Condor to hover above, say, Paris till its fuel ran out but that would hardly achieve anything unless a wave were to drop immediately in northern France. UFOs didn't promote an interaction, rather, just a response.

What I'm imagining is that you give orders to your aircraft over a number of phases. At first, your actions are to identify and locate the alien activity - you could rush in asap or wait to get a picture of what they're doing. If you wait, there may be a better time to strike e.g. ambushing a transport, but that costs you time and readiness. Alternatively, you don't have to do anything, just leave the activity on the map and bear the associated cost until you are willing to risk the assault - at least you know what they're up to.

But the main point is, the aliens are trying to do something in line with their overall game plan. If you shoot down a pesky scout ship, then they wont send their more valuable craft through that area - you just lost the opportunity to bag an FTL drive. If you keep shooting down and looting bombers - big lose for the aliens - they then start sending more interceptors or ground-infiltrators instead. Essentially, as a commander of the overall war, it shouldn't feel like swatting flies. Although yes, I concede that I've not got a concrete suggestion for how to implement this into the actual Xenonauts strategy layer, the game might just not even work that way.

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I would like to see a greater focus on stealth craft or even unmanned drones being used in the cold / secret war environment, with the option of expanding into more conventional craft with major political consequences and/or once the conflict with the aliens becomes public.  Because all the fuel and armament is carried internally on conventional stealth craft, it reduces their payload capacity (which matches the way Xe1 was played anyway).  A modified Nighthawk or B-21 that releases drop pods onto a ground site is an awesome concept visually and very unique to your planned feel for the game.  Even mobile submarine platforms being used to launch interceptors / missiles would be awesome.

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Regarding interesting choices. The air combat as presented reminds me of a boss fight in a vertical scrolling shumup. The boss, the UFO, has a certain number of weapons. Each weapon has a set of characteristics, including a fire lane. Currently, the fire lanes are banded sections of the screen – once the squadron enters a band, the squadron is attacked by the weapon type up to the number of attacks the weapon band has. I think the most work with meaningful choice, while reducing the amount of workload to a minimum could be done here, taking suggestions from verticle shumups. As the point of an interception is to make the choices prior to the action playing out, why not allow the player to order the tactical formation in which the squadron attacks the ufo? You give the player a chance to make tactical choices and meaningful decisions within the existing framework without having to do too much extra work in the minigame.

 

Let me show you an example.

 

formation.gif

In this example, the player selects before the fight begins a decoy formation. One interceptor will take target priority - there is a greater chance to hit that interceptor, but other interceptors will not be hit by the particular weapon fired against the decoy, saving the other interceptors. Formations could provide different kinds of maluses and bonuses, and more advanced formations might either be researched or learnt through squadron experience. One of the good things about formations is there is no animation required. While a formation might look good animated, fundamentally the formation is about targetting priority and squadron-wide bonuses/maluses so you don't need an RTS to implement a means for the player to have a say in how their squadron fights. 

A second aspect to this may be to introduce a psudeo-3d factor. Weapons on the fleeing alien ship need not necessarily be mounted where they could attack all of the squadron. If you had say, a corvette which has an underslung heavy turret and a pair of light turrets on the top, if the player chose to attack the corvette from a low altitude then the squadron would get attacked by the heavy turret, possibly geting missed more but if the weapon hits you loose a fighter, or attack from a high altitude, where the light turrets are more likely to hit a fighter, but less likely to outright destroy a fighter. Again, that isn't something that needs animation - you just pick at the start of fight your squadron's approach and declare all alien weapons to be TOP, BOTTOM or BOTH. One issue with high/low that I can see straight away is that it may become formulaic as there may always be an optimum approach strategy for a particular UFO type, and once you've figured that out then the best choice becomes no choice at all. 

 

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I like the ideas you put forward @Max_Caine

The idea of having the squadrons level up is been put forward, and I think them leveling as a whole squad would be the simplest way to do it. And if you lose a ship, you lose 1/5th of the experience of the squad. You get hit with a penalty, but it's always surmountable.

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Of course there will end up being an optimum strategy for each possible intercept.

 

I don't think we want to make that strategy as complex to implement as X1 was, which means we are left with tradeoffs that are even more clear. If it's going to be a question of resource management, hiding that behind a minigame that boils down to "Pick the right option to lose a fighter 40% of the time and get wiped out 5% of the time, or the wrong option to lose 2 plus a 50% chance of a third and a 20% chance of being wiped out"

Just have a stance selection: Retreat, Monitor (avoid getting into weapons range if possible, wait for reinforcements), standard engagement, and aggressive engagement (make sure that somebody gets shot down).

 

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It is not optimal to have airbases at the center of the map. You can but you shouldn't have centralized bases. Because you can't cover up corners of the world with a base at the center of the map and each fighter need to travel back to the base, jetfighters be running out of fuel if there aren't optional airfields. Low fuel creates missed opptunities of taking down UFO's. If it was a missile base there wouldn't be any problem of covering up the world from the center. 

What Xenonauts didn't had was a quickdraw slot for anything in the belt and picking up items on the ground hadn't any timeunit cost. Mig31 didn't had the acceleration mentioned in the description and soldiers didn't gained anything by using lighter equipment since the strength value was too high.

If using modules make sure it's visual modules changing the airplane frame because if it is just a module who do nothing else than changing values... there's no point to not have visually seen changes inside a videogame. 

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If one could build a series of Missile bases around the globe, that could be used to break up alien air craft formation, and then send in the the attack squadron, or work to a way of being able to do this as an option in the game, could have benefits.

A series of line defenses, were, one would build local missile batteries and then expand that ring out ward, to form a multi layer of Anti Alien Air Craft protection, and then Offense?.

These could be used as a prelim to the Air to Air part of the game, just adds another layer.

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On 6/16/2018 at 10:14 PM, Talemore said:

It is not optimal to have airbases at the center of the map. You can but you shouldn't have centralized bases. Because you can't cover up corners of the world with a base at the center of the map and each fighter need to travel back to the base, jetfighters be running out of fuel if there aren't optional airfields. Low fuel creates missed opptunities of taking down UFO's. If it was a missile base there wouldn't be any problem of covering up the world from the center. 

What Xenonauts didn't had was a quickdraw slot for anything in the belt and picking up items on the ground hadn't any timeunit cost. Mig31 didn't had the acceleration mentioned in the description and soldiers didn't gained anything by using lighter equipment since the strength value was too high.

If using modules make sure it's visual modules changing the airplane frame because if it is just a module who do nothing else than changing values... there's no point to not have visually seen changes inside a videogame. 

Hmmm, I don't think this is true at all. You can definitely cover the entire world well enough to easily win the game using three well-placed bases along the equator, and it's definitely the most efficient way to play the game. The Foxtrot also moves significantly faster than the starting Condor aircraft do; if you think the changes are purely visual then you're mistaken.

On 6/16/2018 at 10:37 PM, Ruggerman said:

If one could build a series of Missile bases around the globe, that could be used to break up alien air craft formation, and then send in the the attack squadron, or work to a way of being able to do this as an option in the game, could have benefits.

A series of line defenses, were, one would build local missile batteries and then expand that ring out ward, to form a multi layer of Anti Alien Air Craft protection, and then Offense?.

These could be used as a prelim to the Air to Air part of the game, just adds another layer.

Yeah, missiles have been suggested before. It's an interesting idea, but I've not really thought up anything that makes sense for why missiles would be an interesting choice for the player. If a UFO flies near your missile site, you'll pretty much always want to fire missiles at it, right?

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Chris said:

Missiles have been suggested before, but I've not really thought up anything that makes sense for why missiles would be an interesting choice for the player. If a UFO flies near your missile site, you'll pretty much always want to fire missiles at it, right?

The interesting part, I assume, would be determining how much strategic resources to spend on building, improving, and/or running the missile sites.

For example these sites may be cheap and effective but destroy UFOs or cause them to retreat early, causing less chance to recover loot or earn experience.  Upgrading multiple missile sites is also likely to cost more then upgrading one or two fighter squads, at which point it becomes the less effective choice.  You may need to send engineer to build and upgrade them, giving player a good reason to move them around the globe.

It can also be part of the threat management mini-game: missile sites may build up Xenonaut threat faster, so that on higher difficulty you need to carefully consider where to shield and where to let UFO roam, in AI War style.  Or it can incur local relationship penalty as long as it is running, which the players can turn off to hold off local threat a little longer but put the region at higher risk.

Edited by Sheepy
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Posted (edited)

As one who LOVED the previous real time air combat system (it took awhile to figure out, but there was one really good tutorial ...) I'm not here to bemoan that it's been scrapped in X2, but rather to throw my support behind some of the ideas already being discussed here.

Preemptive missile strikes:  YES !  PLEASE !  And the effectiveness would likely vary from country to country, at least initially, before Xenonauts could get better missile products out to enough countries.  As was the case with base-attack ships taking missile battery fire in X1, these preemptive strikes could help reduce # of aliens after the ship's been downed, but they could also help in a few other ways such as:

1) some damage to ship's engines, making it more likely the interceptors CAN catch them to initiate an air battle

2) some damage to ship's weapons or weapon systems, making return fire from enemy ships less of a known constant and a more random, unique detail.

3) some damage to ship's shields, if they're sporting them, making it an easier situation for the interceptors to pierce through for real damage.

4) some damage to ship's anti-missile systems, if they've got them, making it more likely than usual that the interceptors' missiles actually make it through.

*added, 5) when a UFO was hit by a better preemptive missile strike than usual, it would do LESS damage to a country's infrastructure (less abductions, less commercial planes or oil rigs destroyed, less disturbing things in the water or sky .... so even if the Xenonauts couldn't get out to each and every UFO invasion, they could reap some small degree of rewards in the way of 'losing less funding' for strikes they couldn't head off.

Just a few ideas off the top of my head there.

The other big YES I wanted to add was to the idea of more interchangeable ordnance / more variety of equip / weapon bays from one ship to the next and all that jazz.

Edited by Wyldefyre_CP

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16 hours ago, Wyldefyre_CP said:

As one who LOVED the previous real time air combat system (it took awhile to figure out, but there was one really good tutorial ...) I'm not here to bemoan that it's been scrapped in X2, but rather to throw my support behind some of the ideas already being discussed here.

Actually... since issuing order based on percentage and watch them fly is boring - think XCOM EU - there is now plan to switch it back to real time.
https://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/index.php?/topic/19537-xenonauts-2-design-update-realtime-geoscape/

It is mentioned that, if realtime, UFO should spawn far from their targets, and at the same time.

This conditions reminds me of XCOM Apoc: The UFO spawns from a teleportation gates that randomly jumps around.  Because they jumps around, the spawn point is effectively random, but each UFO appears in the same place(s) in one big wave, typically (but not always) far from most UFO's targets.  I think that's a good mechanic that we can borrow, and it fits the narrative that teleporter has cooldown (so that you can't teleport reinforcements into tactical combat, for example).

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ahhhh... and one more downgrade for the game =( 

1. squadrons... well may be, but i still cant realise what way it is better, than single interceptor.

2. single attack run on UFO? WHAT??? Interceptors armed missiles only? Or their cannons filled with 10 shells?  How you will explain that for energy weaponry, that have near to infinity ammo (and quite small shells, that may fitted into a plane in hundreds)? Modern air combat is still a dog-fight with the only difference from WWI\WWII period with bigger weapon range and it`s bigger damage, but planes still fitted with cannons and pilots still training with close range maneuver combat (at least in Russia)... so... whatever you want, but air combat in X1 was closer to reality than system you describe here. I think, you mixed up CAS and Interceptor\fighter tactics, CAS is really one fire pass plane (mostly), but combat for fighter\interceptor is more complex and prolonged

 

3. Bases... hmmm... I`ve already said about bases in ATLAS thread, so I will not start talking about it here... but there wasn`t any really "well-placed" points for the base in X1, exept you are... ill person, who try to survive with single research-industrial-combat deployment base, and build simple sensor arrays (and even there you are not able to cover whole globe by 3 bases), so...

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