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Chris

Xenonauts-2: Research Tree

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The research tree in the first Xenonauts was functional but rather straightforward, so we'll be making some changes in the sequel to make things a bit more interesting. The main objective is to make the research progress less of straight line full of simple numerical upgrades on previous tiers, giving players the ability to skip certain tiers entirely and pump resources into others to make them viable for a longer period in the game.

Because we're making the research tree wider and adding in development projects, we're likely going to be making the research tree flatter - for example, instead of three distinct tiers of weapons and armor we'll likely limit ourselves to just two tiers but add more stuff in to each one (that way your tech doesn't become obsolete after a few missions like it did in X1). We'll hopefully also be adding more items that interact with the battlefield in interesting ways, so as the game progresses you get some items that keep the combat feeling fresh and novel.

These are the new systems that are discussed in this post:

 

Development Projects:

Everyone is familiar with the idea of Research projects and how they are used to unlock new tech, but in Xenonauts-2 we have added the concept of "development projects" as well - rather than unlocking new technology, these improve the performance of technology that already exists. These projects can either become available immediately after the technology is researched or can be triggered at a later date by further technology advances; e.g. researching Alien Alloys may unlock Wolf Armour research but could also unlock a development project to boost the stats of the Jackal Armour you already own.

The idea is that these projects focus on a specific characteristic of the equipment that has been researched rather than providing bonuses to everything. For example, if you research Laser Weapons then the following projects may all immediately become available for research:

  • Laser Weapons - Charged Emitter (provides a small damage boost)
  • Laser Weapons - Beam Focus (provides a range boost)
  • Laser Weapons - Battery Efficiency (expands the ammo capacity)
  • Laser Weapons - Ergonomics (reduces the TU cost of firing the weapon)

Which of the projects you want to research depends on how you use the technology; if you're primarily using Laser Shotguns then slightly boosting the range might not be particularly useful, and if you're mostly using Laser Snipers then the shot TU reduction might not be so valuable.

This system is going to need a LOT of balancing to get right, but I think it could be one of the coolest new additions to the game when it's all set up correctly!

 

Alenium Cells:

In Xenonauts 1 there were two types of alien materials used to build advanced technology, Alien Alloys and Alenium. In the sequel Alien Alloys are used in the same way as before, but Alenium is treated rather differently - it is not actually consumed when you build new technology, but it is required to power advanced technology when a soldier takes it into battle (this does not permanently consume it either).

Alenium therefore represents a "power limit" for the equipment your troops can bring to battle. If Laser weapons require 1 Alenium and you have 2 Alenium, you can happily build a variety of different Laser weapons but you can only ever take two of them into battle on any given mission. Getting more Alenium is not particularly difficult, but it is recovered from Abduction mission sites rather than Crash Sites (which provide tech and Alloys), so the player must choose their missions appropriately if they want to collect more.

This mixes up the tech tree in an interesting way; in most cases the player will not have enough Alenium to kit their entire squad out with advanced gear, so starting equipment or specific types of advanced tech that do not require Alenium stay relevant even once you've researched ostensibly better gear. Luckily, the development projects allow you improve the stats of this lower-tier gear if you find yourself using it a lot!

 

Weapon Tiers:

These new systems allow us to have multiple types of weapon type in each tier that do different things - for example, the first tier of weapons could have Laser weapons, which are powerful but require Alenium, and Coilguns which do not require Alenium but are less powerful than Lasers. This immediately poses questions - should the player go for Lasers even though they only have enough Alenium to give them to half the squad? If so, is it worth upgrading the starting weapons so the rest of the team can be more relevant ... or do you pile all your research into improving your Lasers? Or do you pursue both Lasers and Coilguns at the same time so everyone has an advanced weapon, knowing neither type of weapon will ever be "maxed out"? Or forget Lasers entirely and use Coilguns exclusively?

I'm also keen to make different types of weapons operate differently from one another - a good example being that Lasers might not have ammo in the conventional sense, instead just having a battery that recharges a set amount each turn. With more weapon tiers and the Alenium system in the game, you can also potentially make different types of aliens (and different types of soldier armour) strong or weak against different types of weapon - e.g. some kind of Electro Rifle would predominantly be used as a a ranged stun weapon, but it might also be very effective against robotic enemies ... but potentially it might heal a specific type of alien (e.g. Wraiths) if you try and use it against them. So being able to swap out elements of your loadout depending on the enemies you are facing on the mission could add another dimension to the game.

It's harder to do this for other types of equipment - even armour just doesn't have as many variables to play with as weapon do - but we do want to add in some of the cool stuff from earlier X-Com games or other spiritual successors / mods. Much of this is dependent on how much money the game raises during our Kickstarter / Early Access, but it'd be great to have things like proxy grenades and motion detectors and all that stuff if we can!

 

Multiple Ammo Types:

One of the features most requested by the community is the ability to create alternative types of ammo for weapons in Xenonauts-2. This has been implemented in the game already and there are a few instances where we plan to use it to give existing weapons new capabilities - although we still need to give the UI for swapping ammo types mid-battle some thought!

An example of how we might use this is to give the player access to researchable Taser slugs for the shotgun, allowing them to apply stun damage from range rather than having to run right up to a target and beat it with Stun Batons. These would be particularly useful in specific missions like the DEFCON missions, where you are attacking fellow humans and suffer a relations penalty for killing them.

I'm not particularly keen to add loads of different types of ammo for each type of weapon in the style of JA2 (I think it'll be hard to combine that with having lots of new weapons types that do different things), but the functionality will exist and I've no doubt modders will make extensive use of it!

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I think I mentioned some of these ideas in the thread at

Among them was that a whole base structure (or even an entire base site) could come from capturing a particular alien tech and/or completing a site recon / story mission.  Perhaps some of these alternative research paths can come from a once-off choice to follow one recon lead, or ally with one faction rather than another, that would certainly increase the replayability of the game.
 

I really think your idea of multiple research paths is a key development you should focus on, with some that can even be skipped over depending on play style – perhaps when it comes to weapons, conventional ballistic then more advanced kinetic like mag / railgun, vs energy weapons like laser, pulse, gauss, plasma, then there are special ones like fire and acid, biological warfare like XCOM:Apoc, etc

I prefer the idea of each type having their own benefits, so as a new one is developed, the old doesn't necessarily become redundant in every circumstance.  When in X1 I developed mag weapons I was expecting the ballistics to be good against one type of foe, but the old plasma still be more useful against others but the former was more superior in every way.  Maybe some types could be inherently more accurate, others are able to be silenced or more easily concealed, some have armor piercing benefits, some have greater range (or the particles accelerate so they do less damage close up), some are better against certain types of armor / shields or even unarmored targets, some good against stunning conventional or psychic targets, some have low recoil so are good to use on the move, some are cheap to manufacture and good to spread around among base defenders, some have higher crit chance whereas others do more raw damage, etc.

Maybe advanced shotguns can only be achieved through the ballistics research tree, whereas the most accurate precision rifles through lasers, flexible rifles with varying fire options through another type, full auto weapons with lower cool down time through another, advanced rocket launchers and hollow point ammo are only in explosives path, etc  More complicated interaction between tiers such as a breakthrough in propulsion tech might be applied to interceptors as well as rocket launchers as well.

Development projects is a fantastic idea, a bit like the Foundry from XCOM.  I would like to see future tech possibly requiring old tech as components (e.g. rather than heavier Wolf Armor, there might be a more mobile Jackal Armor which requires a suit of Jackal first to enhance).  This means you won't just sell off all your old stuff automatically when you have new tech options available.

Alenium cells is such a great dynamic not just for advanced weapons, but powered armor, mobility enhancement (grapples, exoskeletons, teleportation) and devices that enable the use of special abilities like psychic focus, cybernetics, etc

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This all seems pretty interesting.

 

Development projects seem really cool and I think it work best with the way you want to set up the research paths and how there are some weapons that can be fielded easier than others. Could be nice to have them either be just for certain weapons and not a whole tier. Might allow yo to focus your research a bit more. Now, instead of 2 weeks to do a full tier, it is 3 days to upgrade just the shotgun. It could also cut down on doing upgrades for certain weapons that don't really need them or don't fit your playstyle and it allows you to invest your time more wisely. Maybe you could also upgrade the ammo types. Maybe the buckshot has a couple more pellets or the ammo in the lmg changes to be more space efficient so it holds more or takes up less space in the limited inventory.

 

The Alenium cells sound like a really interesting idea. I could see this having a lot of fun gameplay impacts. Also sounds good for adding in different playstyles / approaches to playing the campaign. 

 

I'm a little sad to see the weapon tiers be decreased. I liked the different tiers in X1 but I do see what the complaint was, but I don't think it will be as bad for how you want to do research and have the tiers do different things. I like the idea for different damage types, but I'd also maybe go and make certain tiers not have certain weapon types (like no shotgun for laser), some have new types (maybe lasers have a laser cannon instead of autofire), and the simple thing with having some have different fire types or they shot different amount of projectiles per burst. I feel like this could make all the tiers not feel exactly the same since they wouldn't be a straight up upgrade. I do like the idea of the lasers maybe having unlimited ammo / a recharging battery. Maybe you could still change ammo if you are going to be shooting a lot, but maybe each ammo costs an Alenium Cell. You would only really use that if you are planning to fire a weapon a lot per turn. Could also be a good way to make using a laser lmg take more if each shot fires 10, it has 30 rounds in a cell, and it recharges 3 per turn. just a thought.

 

One other thing woith the tiers, if you would keep all 4 from X1, I'd do this:

Ballistics - Basic starting tier.

Laser - Available pretty early. Maybe the lore could be that they know how to roughly do it already but they never had a power source good enough to handle it. It would be there early for people rushing Alenium.

Coilguns / MAG (assuming this is the MAG tier from X1) - This would be around mid game. It'd unlock from doing some regular research, some research that only gets you coilguns (can be avoided if you are going energy weapons), and maybe form also doing some ballistic enhancements. This would basically be an upgrade from the Ballistic tier. 

Plasma - This would be the final tier. Would probably appear 2/3rds way through the game. Would come from energy weapon research and Alenium research. It's relationship to coilguns would be like laser to ballistics.

This  is just how I'd add in the tiers, but I like having many different tiers of weapons and I think how you are setting them up where you probably wouldn't be using all of them so that would get rid of those complaints, but having less tiers would be easier to balance. Although, I guess it also depends on how long you expect the average game would last. If it will only be 30~ missions you might only want to have the player change to a new tier once.per playthrough.

 

Ammo types seem cool, but I feel like they'd work best with the ballistic / coilgun tiers. Maybe that is also one bonus to those tiers is that they allow for more variety with their ammo types. Taser shotgun slugs seem cool.

 

That's really all I have to say about what was posted. It could be cool to also find out what types of weapons do you plan on implementing.

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Making players choose between power armor/shields and advanced weapons is interesting. Any thoughts on there being equipment that can operate better with more power, to make it even harder to have enough power to max out everything.

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I like the idea of the laser and plasma tiers having a powerful single shot cannon instead of MGs, as they would just heat up way too much - semi-auto / burst fire perhaps, but not full auto.  It also makes sense that lasers, which work on focusing a beam to heat up a target, have no snap shot option and might not even be able to be used on overwatch since it's hard to stay focused while they're moving. Maybe, as much as the aliens use gravitrons with plasma, a ball of gas travelling towards a target is inherently inaccurate, so aimed shots are not possible. This makes a kinetic tier (ballistics -> mag/coil/gauss) remain useful simply because of retaining shot type variety.

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I was worried about only having two tiers - I think there's some excitement in initially upgrading from terrestrial weapons and then aiming for that final tier at the minimum, but having multiple types of weapons within tiers as you've presented it makes sense.

It's an interesting approach - if say a player splits their focus between coilguns and lasers, they could choose to focus on damage & ammo on lasers and go for shotguns and sniper rifles, then range and TUs for automatic weapons to be used for picking up weakened targets and suppression. 

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I personally love Firaxis' self-destructing alien weapons, gathering weapon fragments for research / development, capping live aliens (which is dangerous) so you can get the whole weapon to eventually modify for human use and so on.  I think Xenonauts came up with a good middle ground as well, with the tech being so beyond our understanding we start off with laser and eventually make our own version of plasma, but it wasn't as good as the aliens', and we eventually had to come up with our own breakthrough mag tech.  However, I always wondered why you couldn't just pick up an alien weapon and use it?  Maybe using experimental tech (like a prototype which is released halfway through a lengthy research period or something, or definitely unresearched alien gear) carries a huge risk of failure?  I guess if you want to get away from what Firaxis did while still staggering your tech tree, then perhaps the weapons could be DNA-coded to individuals, and this security needs to be hacked and reset before Xenonauts can use them. Perhaps soldiers have to go under the knife, or the weapon once reprogrammed can only be assigned to one soldier at a time. This means that a lot of things like opening alien doors on UFOs and base facilities, using captured technology, and so on, all relies on understanding of the alien language, their computers, programming / encryption, etc, which can easily be staggered in the tech tree.  Eventually this understanding will be so great that the alien security can be easily overcome on any alien weaponry or doors (although it might still take some time to hack them in the field), but at first it should be very limited.

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On 4/29/2018 at 6:12 AM, RustyNayle said:

I really think your idea of multiple research paths is a key development you should focus on, with some that can even be skipped over depending on play style – perhaps when it comes to weapons, conventional ballistic then more advanced kinetic like mag / railgun, vs energy weapons like laser, pulse, gauss, plasma, then there are special ones like fire and acid, biological warfare like XCOM:Apoc, etc

I prefer the idea of each type having their own benefits, so as a new one is developed, the old doesn't necessarily become redundant in every circumstance.  When in X1 I developed mag weapons I was expecting the ballistics to be good against one type of foe, but the old plasma still be more useful against others but the former was more superior in every way.  Maybe some types could be inherently more accurate, others are able to be silenced or more easily concealed, some have armor piercing benefits, some have greater range (or the particles accelerate so they do less damage close up), some are better against certain types of armor / shields or even unarmored targets, some good against stunning conventional or psychic targets, some have low recoil so are good to use on the move, some are cheap to manufacture and good to spread around among base defenders, some have higher crit chance whereas others do more raw damage, etc.

Maybe advanced shotguns can only be achieved through the ballistics research tree, whereas the most accurate precision rifles through lasers, flexible rifles with varying fire options through another type, full auto weapons with lower cool down time through another, advanced rocket launchers and hollow point ammo are only in explosives path, etc  More complicated interaction between tiers such as a breakthrough in propulsion tech might be applied to interceptors as well as rocket launchers as well.

Development projects is a fantastic idea, a bit like the Foundry from XCOM.  I would like to see future tech possibly requiring old tech as components (e.g. rather than heavier Wolf Armor, there might be a more mobile Jackal Armor which requires a suit of Jackal first to enhance).  This means you won't just sell off all your old stuff automatically when you have new tech options available.

Alenium cells is such a great dynamic not just for advanced weapons, but powered armor, mobility enhancement (grapples, exoskeletons, teleportation) and devices that enable the use of special abilities like psychic focus, cybernetics, etc

Glad you like the ideas. It's somewhat implied in the original post but I don't think I said it outright, but we are planning to have certain types of weapon be more effective against particular aliens than others. That (and their unique properties) means that weapons should not become obselete immediately when something more advanced is researched. I'm still unsure if we want to set up the tiers so that particular types of weapons (e.g. the shotgun) is only available from particular types of weapon technology, but we'll see. That's relatively easy to balance one way or another once people are playtesting the game.

On 4/29/2018 at 6:22 PM, Betuor said:

Development projects seem really cool and I think it work best with the way you want to set up the research paths and how there are some weapons that can be fielded easier than others. Could be nice to have them either be just for certain weapons and not a whole tier. Might allow yo to focus your research a bit more. Now, instead of 2 weeks to do a full tier, it is 3 days to upgrade just the shotgun. It could also cut down on doing upgrades for certain weapons that don't really need them or don't fit your playstyle and it allows you to invest your time more wisely. Maybe you could also upgrade the ammo types. Maybe the buckshot has a couple more pellets or the ammo in the lmg changes to be more space efficient so it holds more or takes up less space in the limited inventory.

The Alenium cells sound like a really interesting idea. I could see this having a lot of fun gameplay impacts. Also sounds good for adding in different playstyles / approaches to playing the campaign. 

I'm a little sad to see the weapon tiers be decreased. I liked the different tiers in X1 but I do see what the complaint was, but I don't think it will be as bad for how you want to do research and have the tiers do different things. I like the idea for different damage types, but I'd also maybe go and make certain tiers not have certain weapon types (like no shotgun for laser), some have new types (maybe lasers have a laser cannon instead of autofire), and the simple thing with having some have different fire types or they shot different amount of projectiles per burst. I feel like this could make all the tiers not feel exactly the same since they wouldn't be a straight up upgrade. I do like the idea of the lasers maybe having unlimited ammo / a recharging battery. Maybe you could still change ammo if you are going to be shooting a lot, but maybe each ammo costs an Alenium Cell. You would only really use that if you are planning to fire a weapon a lot per turn. Could also be a good way to make using a laser lmg take more if each shot fires 10, it has 30 rounds in a cell, and it recharges 3 per turn. just a thought.

As a general point I'm a little reluctant to allow research that upgrades specific types of weapon (e.g. shotguns, but not rifles) because I think that encourages players to use a very limited selection of weapons in the name of research efficiency. I don't think there's anything to worry about with regards to decreasing the weapon tiers; that just means you'll get some time to use those weapons you've developed before they become obselete. The raw number of weapons you'll use during the game should stay the same or possibly increase, it's just each one will be relevant for longer.

On 5/1/2018 at 6:49 AM, Decius said:

Making players choose between power armor/shields and advanced weapons is interesting. Any thoughts on there being equipment that can operate better with more power, to make it even harder to have enough power to max out everything.

Yeah, that's also something we're looking into. If we go down the modular weapon approach then certain abilities could be toggled on that make the weapon / equipment better, but requires additional Alenium.

On 5/5/2018 at 5:51 PM, erutan said:

I was worried about only having two tiers - I think there's some excitement in initially upgrading from terrestrial weapons and then aiming for that final tier at the minimum, but having multiple types of weapons within tiers as you've presented it makes sense.

It's an interesting approach - if say a player splits their focus between coilguns and lasers, they could choose to focus on damage & ammo on lasers and go for shotguns and sniper rifles, then range and TUs for automatic weapons to be used for picking up weakened targets and suppression. 

To be clear, there's two tiers of advanced weapons plus the starting ballistics. But yeah, it would be nice if we could allow the player to mix and match elements of different tiers within the same combat team. It might be that the coilgun shotguns are particularly strong, whilst lasers have a particularly strong sniper rifle and so forth. Might be a nicer way to handle the whole "certain tiers not having access certain weapons" issue mentioned in some of my replies higher up the page; a carrot rather than a stick...

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I'm worried that having "certain types of weapon be more effective against particular aliens" may not go well with the restricted inventory. Remember, the secondary item will not be all weapons and many soldiers will have only single weapon.

A design that often work better is some weapons are more effective against some game mechanics, most commonly armour and shields. Mass Effect 2/3 is a great example - big, slow guns are vs armor, while rapid shot guns are good at shield. Or bring less guns to use more abilities, or support and crowd control (like secondary item, but less restrictive).  Most weapons are useful in fighting multiple enemy races, but if you really want to change you can do it at rest points (in UFO Afterlight the dropship serves that) without aborting or giving up the mission.

I intentionally not mention the new XCOM because their weapon selection is fixed.

Edited by Sheepy
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Is that necessarily such a bad thing? If lasers give an advantage and you only packed plasmas then you are at a disadvantage - but in such a case you should've diversified your loadout, your squad should be co-reliant. The point of restricting inventory is that soldiers can't be everything-class, e.g: carrying an energy beam sniper and a kinetic shotgun. There's nothing wrong with there being a time when the game makes you face the downside of the decisions you make.

OK, yes, it would be irritating if the alien resistance to damage-type were leaning towards immunity, so not bringing along a laser would mean that the Sebillian boss just wont die. But then, maybe that could be fun, that you can't complete some missions unless you have the right intel (or use of a hyperwave decoder) on what gear to bring - like having a heads up to bring three lots of C4 to get past all the blast doors in a base assault. Or knowing to bring only plasmas because you'll only be fighting those enemy species who can't take the heat.

From memory, fighting higher level Androns in X1 could be excruciating without EMP grenades. I really liked it that the game pushed you to research new technologies - and not in the sense of those techs merely giving +2 damage. In a basic sense, you need to ensure that as the game progresses your dmg output increases faster than the aliens level up and become stronger, but also, you had to win the information war versus the aliens. You had to learn their weaknesses. Find the comparative advantages or niche techs that would respond to the changing nature of the alien threat.

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All of these research technologies that you've described seem very meat-and-potatoes.  Everything is either a gun that fires a projectile in a straight line, or a grenade that follows an arcing trajectory, and the researchable upgrades make their effects slightly better.  I was wondering if there could also be some devices that don't harm the enemy directly but allow your soldiers to reposition themselves or alter the battlefield terrain.  Things like teleporters, force-field-projectors, hologram generators, grappling hooks, cloaking fields, psionic-energy cloaks, a swarm of microbots that tracks the enemy, some gizmo that negates all damage entirely for one turn, or other such devices.  Maybe some of these devices would be extremely powerful but limited to one use per skirmish.  Of course, some of these things could be weapons, but maybe they would be more interesting than things that fire in a straight line.  Like unit A places a pylon here, unit B places a pylon there, and then when activated, everything in between the two pylons gets zapped. I think that positional or geometrical puzzles (like Chess or Into the Breach) are more interesting than simple statistical puzzles. 

Also, there could be several dozen of these advanced devices in the game, but maybe you'd only ever be able to research five of them on the average playthrough.

 

 

 

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@RustyNayle just a tiny correction: gauss rifles are MAG rifles and thus would not count as energy weapons (thought their "propellant" is energy). Yep, I'm fun at parties... Also, just as counter point, I found it pretty ridiculous to have Alien weapons self-destruct unless the user was stunned and not killed in Firaxis XCOM - mechanically a good approach, but thematically utter nonsense.

@ChrisI like the idea of different weapons having different effects on different enemies, and that you would be able to steer their abilities in certain directions with additional research (but please not in the Foundry approach from Firaxis XCOM where you pay and immediately get it; make it a traditional research instead). I'd even go a step further and take the approach of Paradox in Hearts of Iron 3: for every advantage you research you get a slight disadvantage. So if you increase the range of your laser weapons, you also decrease the "clip" size. If you increase the damage your MAG rifles do, they get heavier (more weight and more TUs to use). The disadvantage should be smaller than the advantage so you still have a feeling of progression, but it would mean a system that is more about specialization than upgrades you just do because they are there and not even have a second thought about. You could make these specializations even more pronounced by exclusivity (only one or two per tier) or increasing costs.

That would allow you to form tiers into special tools for according use cases. E.g. you could work on making the standard weaponry really light and accurate so they are a good choice for rookies, MAG as your dedicated anti-mechanical tier, laser as your long range stun weaponry and so on. You could even bring more complexity in and modify single weapons with a sort of module addition system, but I think that's not within the scope you envision.

On the same note I want to advocate for the improvement of single weapon types (e.g. ballistic shotguns). It is not bad to encourage players to develop their own tactics with the choice of armament they make. It leads to an increase in shared stories ("Dude, my laser sniper rifles absolutely rock against Androns, they don't even see my soldiers!" - "What, I went for laser MG instead and it has godly suppression and cover destruction." as opposed to "I am at Laser tier now, too...") and increased replayability as you want to try out something new next time. Of course it should still be feasible to switch if you don't have fun/success with what you researched until now. I see it at X-Division right now; Coffee Potato likes fire and explosions, I am rather the suppress - get close - obliterate type of player. It is so cool to see him playing another style, and I already have a new one in the back of my head for the next campaign.

As for different ammunition types: yes, but use with care. I was not really fond of the "equip a certain item and give that soldier a flat advantage in some sense" system from Firaxis XCOM 2. You should not use your likely expensive bluescreen rounds or your armour piercing ammo on a living target. You should have standard magazines with you, and maybe one special you first need to load for some special use case. Alternatively, we see it in military that they use tracer rounds mixed in with normal ones in a single magazine so every 3rd shot or so is a tracer. That can also be sensible for some scenarios.

I like the alenium approach, but they should be really rare, or more advanced tiers should use a greater amount, so it should never be a no-brainer since you have enough material. It could be cool to decide whether you want to use your limited alenium to give every soldier tier 1 weaponry or to use it to have only one or two heavy-hitter plasma weapons and the rest of the soldiers only playing support.

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1 hour ago, Dagar said:

I like the idea of different weapons having different effects on different enemies, and that you would be able to steer their abilities in certain directions with additional research (but please not in the Foundry approach from Firaxis XCOM where you pay and immediately get it; make it a traditional research instead). I'd even go a step further and take the approach of Paradox in Hearts of Iron 3: for every advantage you research you get a slight disadvantage. So if you increase the range of your laser weapons, you also decrease the "clip" size. If you increase the damage your MAG rifles do, they get heavier (more weight and more TUs to use). The disadvantage should be smaller than the advantage so you still have a feeling of progression, but it would mean a system that is more about specialization than upgrades you just do because they are there and not even have a second thought about. You could make these specializations even more pronounced by exclusivity (only one or two per tier) or increasing costs.

On the same note I want to advocate for the improvement of single weapon types (e.g. ballistic shotguns). It is not bad to encourage players to develop their own tactics with the choice of armament they make. It leads to an increase in shared stories ("Dude, my laser sniper rifles absolutely rock against Androns, they don't even see my soldiers!" - "What, I went for laser MG instead and it has godly suppression and cover destruction." as opposed to "I am at Laser tier now, too...") and increased replayability as you want to try out something new next time. Of course it should still be feasible to switch if you don't have fun/success with what you researched until now. I see it at X-Division right now; Coffee Potato likes fire and explosions, I am rather the suppress - get close - obliterate type of player. It is so cool to see him playing another style, and I already have a new one in the back of my head for the next campaign.

A couple of quite interesting ideas there; I do like the idea of you being able to choose a specific upgrade for a tier at the exclusion of other tech - e.g. researching laser weapons gives you a laser rifle, but then you can choose either to upgrade the design into a sniper laser or a laser LMG but you don't get both. I'm pretty sure that sort of thing is already supported in our research tree for X2 but I think the UI would need an update in order to properly highlight the fact it's a choice between the two techs ... or perhaps it's a single research project, and you get a pop-up afterwards making you choose one or the other.

I do also like the idea that the improvement also has a disadvantage, because then you could have standard Laser Rifle V1 and Laser Rifle V2 that also has built-in shotgun functionality ... but is a bit less capable at being a rifle than the V1 Laser Rifle was. So it's better overall, but not better at everything.

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Oh, and I forgot: For the UI for different munition types you could use the small single-fire - burst-fire icons of X1 at your equipped weapon. I have seen quite some Let's Players and I never have seen anyone use these - I am not even sure what they do, exactly. So there would be room for that. Or, if you go with extra magazines for special ammo, you could just use the drag-and-drop functionality X1 already has.

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A laser rifle with an underslung shotgun is either genius or insane. There's added weight, both in the weapon and in needing to have shotgun ammo as well as laser ammo, it's not better at being a laser rifle, and it's not better at being a shotgun (and might be worse), but it's a really nice thing to have in your hands when you kick open a door to a warehouse.

 

A system that allowed each weapon to have one or two rails, and attachments that can be applied and add an ability to the weapon: Underslung shotgun, grenade launcher, or directed sonic assault system that add a new attack; top rail mounted optics that allow more TUs and higher accuracy (but not affecting the damage drop, since sights don't make bullets go further), and the like.

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It might be an idea to have not just have different types of Armour, but also different types of webbing, which you could store different load outs. If these could be incorporated into the graphics, it could look cool??

This would give a player more choice, depending on weapon skills?

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If you want to do something different than direct line fire weapons, flame throwers and sonic weapons could have cone fire.  Teams using gamma ray weapons could together focus on a single tile to super heat it.  Some sort of quantum weapon could do all sorts of weird things, like phase through their armour, and/or teleport explosives / toxins inside of enemies.  Utility weapons that teleport enemies to the other side of the map, levitate them out of cover, send them away to a pocket dimension (temporarily or permanently).  There's so many options.  Unfortunately, it's hard to find the right balance with these things, they are technically only limited by our own imagination and the game mechanics, but we also need to make them balanced as well.

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If you have a know level of tiers for each weapon type, then you are not going to waste time researching any further that line, and change your research program.  

Some Projects could have one or two levels but maybe a couple could have more?

 

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My post on webbing, is in relation to utility belts, and back packs, which would effect the type and range of weapons  a unit could carry!!

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On 4/29/2018 at 3:12 PM, RustyNayle said:

Development projects is a fantastic idea, a bit like the Foundry from XCOM.  I would like to see future tech possibly requiring old tech as components (e.g. rather than heavier Wolf Armor, there might be a more mobile Jackal Armor which requires a suit of Jackal first to enhance).  This means you won't just sell off all your old stuff automatically when you have new tech options available.

 

I love this idea. One of the best economic features added to Hearts of Iron 4 in the 'Death or Dishonour' DLC was the ability to convert old equipment into something new, at a lower cost than it would be to build new ones from scratch. Usually this took the form of A) taking former "Tier 1 all-rounder" equipment and using it as a platform for "Tier 2 specialist" equipment (such as a Panzer III tank which was good at all tasks being transformed into a StuG III assault gun, which was less tactically flexible but more powerful at specific tasks) or B) taking "Tier 2 Mark 1" equipment you made at the start of the game and bringing it up to speed as "Tier 2 Mark 5" that you have now.  

Illustration

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