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Xenonauts-2: Air Combat

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 @Severvus I imagine the idea of a single attack run to be based around the idea that the UFO can outpace the interceptor given the need. It is advanced alien tech after all so its propulsion probably laughs at mach 6. I'm not super excited about the % based air game that seems to be in the works so far, but equally, it is a bit silly to talk about realism when the discussion is shooting down a magic flying saucer.

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2 hours ago, Ninothree said:

 @Severvus I imagine the idea of a single attack run to be based around the idea that the UFO can outpace the interceptor given the need. It is advanced alien tech after all so its propulsion probably laughs at mach 6. I'm not super excited about the % based air game that seems to be in the works so far, but equally, it is a bit silly to talk about realism when the discussion is shooting down a magic flying saucer.

If we came to M6+ speed of UFO, then we must came to idea that none of human-created aircraft and\or missile will not be able to catch UFO, and just cut interception from the game at all. If Planes can get it there is no any explaining for single attack run.

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To be honest, the idea of being able to build missile sites around the planet to protect from a UFO attack actually makes sense. Secret defense sites and all, but this would also increase the threat you generate and potentially lead to the aliens going *after* the sites themselves (do you risk defending them, knowing full well that the aliens know it is there and will probably either go around it or keep on attacking it in stronger and stronger attacks) 

Of course, depending on 'how' the technology in this game develops, those missile sites could be a hindrance early in the game... but say you get missiles that are capable of disabling a UFO (such as EMP missiles) then those sites could prove to be useful, at least against some types of UFO's (against the bigger one's I'd say they are more of a nuisance but could still cause at least some measure of damage) 

Although I wonder, will there be other types of aircraft? We have interceptors, but what about attack fighters? Bombers? Attack Fighters could be slower, but more armored, and have more weaponry (Ideal for taking on heavier craft), and then you have bombers, which would be ideal for taking on the bigger craft since they can carry a lot of missiles, torpedo's, or maybe even can be used to bomb an alien crashsite to 'soften' it for the ground attack (although at the risk of destroying technology and such)

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@Severvus (I'm not intentionally arguing with you in several threads, sorry if it seems personal) if a UFO is flying at mach 6 and you can't keep up, you still get one shot at it when you aren't pursuing from behind but instead are coming at it from the side or head on. After that, you're bummed because you can't catch up. And if you take that logic further, the dog fight wouldn't stretch to cannon fire because you're only at engagement range for enough time to launch a single missile salvo.

@Kalshion the problem with missiles...

On 6/17/2018 at 10:57 PM, Chris said:

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?

...but as you said, linking it to threat could be an option. So you only use the missiles as an unfavourable option because it works to your disadvantage in another aspect of the game. You face the trade-off between your interceptors' chance to down the UFO (possibly losing your aircraft) and the missile's greater power but negative consequences (launching missiles in friendly territory is never a winner with the voters). I'd take this further and suggest that the xenonauts don't own the missile silos, that the local forces remain in control of them and it is your relationship/reputation with the region that determines if you can order the missile to fire. Maybe have it such that you can improve the missile silos with alien tech, but that can bite you in the ass if your relationship with the area turns sour, since then you'd have a 'plasma missile' targeting your skyranger if it tried to fly through that airspace.

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8 hours ago, Ninothree said:

if a UFO is flying at mach 6 and you can't keep up, you still get one shot at it when you aren't pursuing from behind but instead are coming at it from the side or head on. After that, you're bummed because you can't catch up. And if you take that logic further, the dog fight wouldn't stretch to cannon fire because you're only at engagement range for enough time to launch a single missile salvo.

Modern 5gen fighters has max. speed about 1.5M (F-35 has max.speed of 1.5M, Russian Su-57 - 1.7M) moderate AA missile (for example US AIM-120) have speed for about 4M at distance of 2-180km. With that numbers we have, that in the best missile will fly with speed of 5.5M-5.7M, and it never will be able to hit something, moving with 6M speed =) (even if fighter will be able to flank it or catch it on counter cource.

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Well I only pulled the value of mach 6 out of a quick google search, apparently the X-15 has reached that speed. In any case, I think that if we drop the specific number, the general argument still stands. When you are fighting a sufficiently fast enemy, the one-shot style of air combat is about your only option. I mean, this isn't a point I'm devoted to anyway, I liked the dog fight game in X1 (although it did get stale) and I wouldn't be opposed to keeping it in some form - something resembling Into the Breach or FTL would be amazing. But if the air combat were diluted to a one-shot run then it wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me - if, and only if, it were immersed into something more interesting. The X1 dog fight mini-game was more like something you'd play on your phone and I don't think it is a massively important issue for development time. Although having said all that, I wonder how easy it would be to port the mini-game from X1 directly into the community edition of X2. It would be a crude compromise, but it could keep all parties happy.

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Everithing is turning around of how fast UFO is. If it’s speed is equal to interceptors then dogfight is still the option, if UFO is significant faster there is no chance to intercept it at all (expect some special conditions). And only if UFO is slower than interceptors there is point for one hit run (fighters just will not have time to turn around and shoot second time).

 

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The interceptors being a whole squadron and being able to place airbases around the map are both cool ideas, I think.

Not a fan of the combat changes. They sound suspiciously close to EU, which is really bad.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/25/2018 at 9:57 AM, Nightshade said:

Not a fan of the combat changes. They sound suspiciously close to EU, which is really bad.

 

Exactly my thoughts.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within's "Air Combat" was probably one of the biggest letdowns and widely considered "trash" parts of the game (along with having to being forced to take only 1 mission each time)... while Xenonauts 1 let the player decided whether he wanted a quick auto-resolve to take care of engagements or give the player a chance to win an unfair fight in a minigame that could have a surprisingly amount of depth and challenge, it was one of the things that made me consider Xenonauts being superior to Firaxis' XCOM on several gameplay aspects. 
Also, the music was neat too :P

The more control the player has, usually the better... specially in a strategy and decision-based game, random percentage outcomes just encourage save-scumming before dangerous situations and make the player feel like "bs" happens all the time. (Like when you really need that soldier to kill an Alien with a 80% hit-chance burst, but he misses each single shot and the Alien kills your soldier...)

I'm not implying Air Combat should "be made great again", redesigned to be like the original or something like that, just that i hope there are extensive plans to *really* improve the currently planned "Air Combat" system, such as Max_Caine's impressive suggestions, because it already feels like a terrible downgrade from something that used to make the game unique and fair.

Edited by Kyo21943

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Trust me, it's nothing like the air combat in XCOM1 ... that barely even counts as air combat. That's literally the system from the original X-Com but they've stripped out the range of the weapons - which was one of the only things that actually mattered in X-Com.

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Posted (edited)

Has the air combat in these games ever been good? X1 has the best I've ever seen in this genre and it's still.. Subpar. At the tech level where you're fighting UFOs, it's not a dogfight, it's modern exchanges of missiles. I don't think I've seen a game make these kinds of real fights all that fun. That's probably because there isn't much decision making in real life either; all of these things have been gamed to death in research papers and simulations so you always know the optimal response for your loadout since you always know the other guy's loadout. No decisions, no fun.

I don't really have a suggestion or anything here, just that I don't think anyone has ever figured out an amazingly fun system for this mechanic. I think what's planned for X2 will be an improvement simply because you're sending in squadrons of five and will have more granularity of success and failure than in any previous XCOM-like game. 

Edited by ApolloZani

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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?

Yes you would!

As a commander of a unit, you would want a means of striking the enemy, without putting your troops in harms way.

You would only risk the lives of your men, when you have no other choice, so missiles would be away if not soften up the aliens first, if not take them out, then engage the aliens, and hopefully then collect whats left.   

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Posted (edited)

Air combat could be a fun part of the game, but if it is like X1, it would something you would try a couple of times, and then go to auto-resolve. 

Edited by Ruggerman

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Posted (edited)

One thing we should keep in mind when thinking or discussing the actual Air Combat mechanism, is that X2 may have a lot less air engagements than X1.

The ground combat thread says X2 is planning to have about only 60% of the mission caused by ufo. Using the numbers given there, UFO crash site mission should be around 5 to 10 times.

Unless we have lots of siteless engagements such as fighters and bombers, air combat is almost certain to play a lesser role than X1. Personally I would be against making it too complicated in that case; if the game has 8 different missiles but you'll use each only twice per campaign, it is a waste of everyone's time.

Edit: We can, of course, involve air combat in other part of the strategic layer, such as the primary mean to secure funding or relationship, while making it clear that those won't result in Xenonauts ground missions.  If the game is going to offers five different fighters, and asks players to upgrade squads on seven continents, they better fly a lot.

Edited by Sheepy

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I'm just going to drop this here: 

 

In scouring the internet, the only game I've ever been able to find with decent, fast-paced, turn-based, squadron dogfighting + upgrades is a board game. Perhaps something to take inspiration from since this seems to be the Hard Problem of XCOM games.

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I agree with Chris's idea.  The old air combat was poor and took too much time away from the point of the game (tac missions).   Some people may see it as a downgrade, but please really think about it added to the game.

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Posted (edited)

Hello,

Glad that the Xenonauts2 is going on... as Firaxis XCOM's been a little disappointing apart graphics. But because Air combat was always a weak side of those games, I'll add my own bits. Also I'm gonna repeat some of what has been written there just to make a complete image, so I hope authors won't mind me not giving them full credits.

I'll try to keep it clear as I can't be brief... :)

UFO enhances

  • Types with different goals:
    • Scout - search for bases, local interesting points (like countries satisfied with player's progress can build their own research stations to give small boosts... barracks to lend soldiers \ give allies to nearby ground defense missions)
      • 'Large scouts' can have high technology scanners with wider range and chances of revealing and will be thorougher / have escorts ... also shooting one down might be deliberately hard up to impossible in mid game where they start showing one to initiate base assaults... and will lead to new technology breakthroughs 
    • Bomber - attacking targets mentioned above
    • Fighter - good at shotting down interceptors
    • Transport - to establish their own little bases (can send more soldiers to nearby missions, prioritize to start missions in this area) / begins terrors / kidnap missions ...
  • Equipment
    • Unknown until radar after proper research is built (instead of text stats use images / icons... for shields amount and types of weapons to give a hint instead of exact numbers)
    • Shields: not mere HP, but defense differs against weapons types (more at interceptor's weapons below), can regenerate quickly - if the first wave of interceptors pulls back the second one have to go through shields (or most of it) once again... hull damage remains

Missile bases - definitely for them.

  • Can be used while UFO's in range and not engaged with interceptors
  • Hidden until used or revealed by a scout - then targeted by enemy bombers
  • Some can be made as 'disruptors' instead of missiles to weaken nearby crafts... should it affect shields for example you'll get an advantage using standard crafts and weapons as it would affect your shields too
    • More and expensive research can mitigate that effect on your own crafts

Interceptors

  • I'd go with 2 slots for weapons on basic crafts and interchangeable on new designs
    • nose - canon
    • under wings - rockets/fuel tanks/other support systems types
      • Common human's fragment guns can be more effective against hull... later on, as UFO's gain better shields it would require energy and such weapons to go through that
    • ... and maybe some slots for other support only system (targeting, disrupting - lowers enemy's chance to hit, ...)
  • Types - apart base interceptor/transport I'd add a specialized patrol types... instead of fast fighter it would be a slower craft with extended flight time (maybe with some propeller engines seen in some sci-fi movies like Helicarrier from Avengers ??) and they can be helpful in ground missions:
    • Assaults enemy forces in non-civil areas to weaken them (reduces number of enemies)
    • Can give tactical informations (hints to enemy movements, numbers, show their placements at the start of mission, ...)
    • Pushes AI missions to other areas and passively ease angry local government
    • ... and of course can intercept or... lets say offers and option to join interceptors should they start a fight nearby
    • Can also be as a bait for enemy UFO's

The combat itself... the biggest challenge

  • Only formations with attack priority seems too cheap for me... I do know how easier it is to implement, but in the end it doesn't actually change anything. It's more like should fighter A or B go to death.
    • With shields and weapon types you could at least offer some 'goals'...
      • Against single shielded opponent first would go fighters with anti-shield weapons (and their own defenses/shields), then the rest
      • Against group anti-shield can go after bomber while other would take down escort... than all of them would focus bomber (or if escort wins, anti-shields would turn against them and leave a bomber)
  • Bigger weapons - bigger damage - worse loot, but lower risk
  • Orders - if you would visualize a battle (something between Xenonauts1 and formation example as has been posted here) then you can watch whats going on and give orders:
    • First before battle decide who engages... then it could be priority battle as above
    • Decide when each aircraft should try to retreat / engage of those who awaits (you can create a limit on number of attacking crafts? ... like 2 per enemy fighter / 4 on a bomber... as more of them would interfere with each other?? not sure about that) .. also it depends on ratio of UFO and your own aircrafts you'll have in game. (Maybe make human technology crafts cheap as they will have larger casualties? ... while alien based would be many times more valuable, with shields and such)
    • All out assault option... orders all fighter to engage and speed up combat? lower tick rate of updates -> disallow all orders (maybe except for full retreat)... just kind of a finishing move.
    • Focus change? ... if there is a bomber and 2 fighter in an escort and you have... lets say 4 fighter, they can either attack bomber or escorts... you can possibly take down a bomber and retreat (requires very good tuning of numbers) or take down escort, retreat and with second group finish a bomber...
    • ... Not sure if this explains my idea well or is kind of a mess/too brief... ??

Let me know if anything interesting come from this... or it's just a mere recap/bullshit what ever. :)

Have a nice day, IceE

Edited by IceExplosive

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So we're losing the ability to make our own squadrons like we could in X1, AND you're taking the satellite minigame from XCOM.  Between this and the XCOM ant farm copy, I'm really starting to dislike this game and have decided I probably won't kickstart it as I had planned.  It's basically just XCOM with a different skin and some slight tweaks at this point.

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Hello Chris,

I advise stick to Air-Combat of X1 and advance it with new options. As others said it is the most inovative fighter minigame I know.
A better Item layout of fighters would be nice.

Bye Pierre

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On 7/3/2018 at 10:47 PM, endersblade said:

So we're losing the ability to make our own squadrons like we could in X1, AND you're taking the satellite minigame from XCOM.  Between this and the XCOM ant farm copy, I'm really starting to dislike this game and have decided I probably won't kickstart it as I had planned.  It's basically just XCOM with a different skin and some slight tweaks at this point.

Literally none of that is actually happening, but sure. Maybe check back when the game is finished and see if your fears have been borne out.

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Yeah, maybe I was a little harsh in that post.  Sorry.  What I meant was, currently in X1 you can send out, say, one interceptor and two foxtrots, or 3 interceptors, or 3 foxtrots, etc.  It sounds like now you just make a squadron of 5 of one type of plane and that's it, you can't change its makeup. 

I think it would be neat that when you are building/buying a new squadron, you get to choose which planes make up the group.  Granted, this would make the repair/replace situation when a squadron comes back missing planes a lot more complicated on the back end (that is, if you make replacing later planes require materials and such rather than just money and time), but it would just add one more layer of customization to the game.

Doing so, you could probably even add in 'support' planes.  AWACS and such.  Have a squadron of two interceptors, two foxtrots and an AWACS.  Or some other plane that may give you a buff or a debuff on the enemy.

Hell, all of this could probably already be your idea.  It just really sounds like it's five planes of all one type per squadron and that's it.  Unless you're planning on making us do something like sending a group of 3 squadrons (in lieu of sending 3 planes in X1) to shoot down a UFO, in which case 15 planes is a bit overkill...I guess I'm just not understanding where you're going with this.

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42 minutes ago, endersblade said:

Yeah, maybe I was a little harsh in that post.  Sorry.  What I meant was, currently in X1 you can send out, say, one interceptor and two foxtrots, or 3 interceptors, or 3 foxtrots, etc.  It sounds like now you just make a squadron of 5 of one type of plane and that's it, you can't change its makeup. 

I think it would be neat that when you are building/buying a new squadron, you get to choose which planes make up the group.  Granted, this would make the repair/replace situation when a squadron comes back missing planes a lot more complicated on the back end (that is, if you make replacing later planes require materials and such rather than just money and time), but it would just add one more layer of customization to the game.

Doing so, you could probably even add in 'support' planes.  AWACS and such.  Have a squadron of two interceptors, two foxtrots and an AWACS.  Or some other plane that may give you a buff or a debuff on the enemy.

Hell, all of this could probably already be your idea.  It just really sounds like it's five planes of all one type per squadron and that's it.  Unless you're planning on making us do something like sending a group of 3 squadrons (in lieu of sending 3 planes in X1) to shoot down a UFO, in which case 15 planes is a bit overkill...I guess I'm just not understanding where you're going with this.

The squadron mechanic is literally "where you have 1 plane in X1, you now have 5 planes of the same type" - so the intention is that you were indeed using up to 15 planes on an interception run in the place of the 3 planes you used in X1. Which I think makes sense if you're fighting an enemy with much more advanced technology.

But this is another mechanic tied into the other changes; if we go back to the X1 base mechanics where you are building hangars within your base and putting planes in them ... well, then we're not going to be able to do squadrons of 5 because you end up with some pretty big scale problems. Having manufactured equipment for your aircraft might also force us to abandon the squadron idea, because it means you have to manufacture 5 of everything to rearm a single squadron and that's going to be problematic when you compare production times to that of infantry equipment (which you only need one of to rearm a single soldier).

In any case, the more persistent damage handling that was the main reason why I wanted to use squadrons can be gained through other means - it's just that squadrons were the neatest and easiest way to do it. Not the end of the world if we can't use them though.

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Posted (edited)

Actually, it's all about scaling.  In X1, one hangar = one plane.  For X2, you can scale things differently, one hangar = 5 planes.  I mean, look at the hangar in XCOM in the ant farm.  You had like 3 or so interceptors PLUS the Skyranger in there.

Using the X1 base style as an example, you don't HAVE to show the plane(s) in the hangar.  Just make one hangar be a 2x2 box, but can hold X amount of squadrons. Conversely, and this more belongs in the Base thread actually, but you could always up the resolution, so to speak, of the grid...instead of doing a 5/5 or 5/8 or whatever it is X1 did (sorry, haven't seen the map in a while), quadruple it.  Make each current square 4 squares.  This would allow for much finer control on both placing rooms/buildings (whatever we're calling them) as well as allow much larger and smaller room sizes.  This would allow the perspective to be different as well.  Now, a 4x6 hangar vs a 2x1 barracks would look more realistic in comparison. That much larger looking hangar could then conceivably house 5, 10, 15 planes.  Hell, just look at how many planes can be stored on an Aircraft Carrier in such a small space. Just think about the runway being something outside of the buildable area.

Since you're going with the ant farm in this game, just go off of XCOM (the irony of me saying that does not go unnoticed lol) and think about how that hangar works.  One of XCOM's hangars = 5 planes in X2, basically a 'pod' style of hangar.  Since X2 isn't as futuristic as XCOM is, just think of it as planes being housed on multiple levels using cranes or elevators or something.  Carriers house the planes belowdecks, but use a lift to bring them topside to launch.  Same situation with the X2 base. So say your secondary bases, when first built, house one hangar and you can then upgrade to 2 then 3.  Easy to represent on a visual ant farm style map, think of a dome cut in half with 3 planes along the bottom and two on the second level above them, and what looks like a lift in the center.  5 planes, one hangar.

I don't know if you plan on having interceptors at the main ATLAS base, the pic I've seen of it just looks like it houses the troop carrier craft.  Which is fine.  And again I apologize, this really more belonged in the Base Building thread.  I can copypasta it there if you want.  I guess my point is, you can have your cake and eat it too. Do the ant farm, show the 5 planes, and not have to revert back to the X1 style.

I still can't imagine 15 planes going after one UFO...the logistics behind that is an Air Traffic Controller's nightmare.  If we're talking ID4-sized UFOs, sure, but nothing in X1 was even remotely that large.

As far as repair goes, I believe time+money is definitely the best route to go for repairs.  The question is, are you going to differentiate between repairs and replacements?  If one plane in a squadron of 5 takes a hit is that an instant kill for that one plane, or can it take more?  If there is a difference, then REPLACING a plane should cost resources.  You're building an entirely new plane.  It doesn't have to be much, about 1/5th of the build cost of the squadron per plane, but that will make people who are tight on resources think twice about throwing planes at ships they can't handle because they won't be able to afford the replacements.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text.  Bored at work lol.

Edited by endersblade
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, endersblade said:

I still can't imagine 15 planes going after one UFO...the logistics behind that is an Air Traffic Controller's nightmare.

A perfect reason to replace Hanger with Air Command Center!  Solves all scaling problem. :rolleyes:

Hanger is better for putting Engineers in, though.  Air Command is more in the operation branch.

Edited by Sheepy

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14 hours ago, Sheepy said:

A perfect reason to replace Hanger with Air Command Center!  Solves all scaling problem. :rolleyes:

Hanger is better for putting Engineers in, though.  Air Command is more in the operation branch.

Ha, good point :-P

Don't get me wrong, I'm warming up to the idea of the 5-plane squadrons.  I'm just having a hard time imagining 15 planes attempting to take off to head to a target at the same time...one would think the first plane would be low on fuel after circling the base for so long waiting on the last one.  A system necessary to launch 5 planes at a time would take up a rather significant space.  (Of course, later interceptors can have VTOL or UFO Hovering tech to solve this problem.)  I thought it was cool in XCOM that planes would take off vertically, that's always a possibility.  The top of the hangar opens, all 5 planes are loaded on to catapults and off they go.  Considering the ant farm view is cut in half, you can hand wave it and say the catapults are on the half you can't see.  Problem solved.

As far as the actual air combat goes, I think the way X1 handled it was superb.  We had the auto combat ability for when we didn't want to take the time, and the combat options we had were great.  You don't just go in guns ablazin', you have the option to control how fast you go, maneuvers, whether to use rockets and missiles, and you could pause as needed.  I really don't think anything needs to be changed.

Something I would like to see though, and this was something that I believe Long War added to XCOM, was each interceptor kept track of how many kills it had.  You could even elaborate on that and add veterancy to the pilots, so they aren't just mindless drones who shoot down UFOs for you.  Give them ribbons and medals, like X1 did for soldiers, for things like X amount of kills, last pilot survived an encounter within a squad, took down a large UFO, etc.  These could in turn have some small effect on the interceptor (or squadron as a whole, if the game can't separate one plane from the group), something like increased dodge chance, more HP, more damage output, higher accuracy, things like that.  I would just really like to see more detail given to the nameless pilots that are critical to what we do, but nobody ever thinks about them.

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