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Chris

Xenonauts-2: Soldiers

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Your soldiers are the unsung heroes of Xenonauts, bravely marching off to face death in service of humanity every time you launch a ground mission. So how have they changed compared to their predecessors in the first game?  I've mostly been interested in two things: making the skill and promotion system more appropriate to the sort of game we're building, and finding ways to make the player rotate their team so they don't use the same soldiers in literally every mission.

The topics discussed in this thread are:

 

Soldier Attributes:

Soldiers interact with the battlefield through a similar set of attributes to what they had in the first game:

  • Time Units
  • Health Points
  • Accuracy
  • Reflexes
  • Bravery

The changes we've made are around how those attributes are calculated; e.g. a soldier will not necessarily have the same Accuracy with different types of weapon, as the familiarity of the soldier with the equipped type of weapon will now be factored into their Accuracy stat. Similarly, equipping heavy armour may boost Health Points but reduce Time Units (as well as providing a % damage reduction).

Attributes are therefore now calculated based on a mix of the soldier's base competency, their skills, their combat experience and on the equipment they have equipped. We're trying to reduce the number of attributes (e.g. Strength has been removed) but make those that remain deeper more interesting; more details on that as I explain each system in turn.

 

Combat Experience vs. Skills:

In reality a soldier's effectiveness is derived from both their skills / training and their veterancy / combat experience. A green recruit trained for a specific role may be more useful than veteran fighter who has not ... but obviously the most effective soldiers are both experienced and well trained! Xenonauts-2 therefore splits out a soldier's stats into a general measure of their combat experience (measured by rank) and a set of skills that denote the ability of the soldier to perform various battlefield actions (predominantly familiarity with different types of weapons).

Combat experience / rank provides a global bonus to the soldier's stats - e.g. a Colonel has a higher base Accuracy, HP and TU than a Private does. Combat experience is primarily gained by taking part in ground combat missions, but Field Agents also gain experience on certain types of (dangerous) missions - but in any case, soldiers only gain rank in situations where their life is at risk.

Soldier skills are primarily gained through training, although they are also developed on the battlefield - using a rifle in battle will grant you progress towards the Rifle Familiarity skill. Soldiers will passively learn a specific skill (chosen by you) as long as you have enough training space at your base, so it is possible to train rookies to be competent at a specific role without them ever leaving the base ... but they won't reach their full potential until they start gaining veterancy in battle.

To give you an example of how rank and skills can combine (all numbers are subject to change):

  • Privates have 50 Accuracy
  • Colonels get +20 Accuracy from accumulated combat experience
  • Rifle Familiarity has three levels and grants the following bonuses:
    • Level 1, +10 Accuracy with Rifles
    • Level 2, +15 Accuracy with Rifles
    • Level 3, +20 Accuracy with Rifles

A Private would be treated as having 50 Accuracy with a Rifle if he has no training. That does not mean that all his shots have a 50% hit chance; this number is also modified by intervening cover and the fire mode of the Rifle itself (e.g. your accuracy will be lower if you fire a snap shot, but if you spend more TU on aiming then it will be higher).

If that Private has trained his Rifle Familiarity up to level 3, he will have 70 Accuracy with a Rifle equipped but 50 Accuracy with every other type of weapon. The Colonel would also have 70 Accuracy with the Rifle but would also have it with any other type of weapon. If that Colonel also happens to have level 3 Rifle Familiarity, he will have 90 Accuracy.

This system allows you to quickly train up competent replacement soldiers into a particular role if a key soldiers gets killed - but veteran soldiers rightly still remain a valuable commodity! There's also plenty of room for further expanding this system - e.g. weapon familiarity could be further broken down into "Ballistics Familiarity" vs. "Energy Weapon Familiarity" and so forth, representing how different types of technology would operate rather differently from one another. Figuring out how deep we want to go is something we'll be experimenting with in the beta / Early Access period!

 

Soldier Inventory:

EDIT - after some long and detailed forum discussions, we've decided to abandon some of our previously stated changes to the soldier inventory (most notably the removal of the backpack). I've updated the text below accordingly.

The soldier inventory system has been streamlined a little, and we've added some additional quickslots so you don't have to fiddle with your equipment so much during combat. The planned changes will be:

  • The soldier now has a Secondary slot that is displayed in the UI, which holds either a utility item (e.g. medkit, C4 charge) or a single-handed weapon (e.g. pistol / stun baton)
  • The six belt slots will directly be displayed on the UI, and the ammo / grenade quickslots will be removed
  • The backpack still exists, but is a 3x6 space rather than a 4x5 space
  • You can move items to the Secondary / Belt slots from your backpack in the same way as you can to the Primary slot, and this costs TU just as it did in X1
  • Soldiers now have standardized carry capacities in terms of equipment weight

The addition of these new slots on the UI makes it MUCH easier to find and use secondary / belt items. Previously trying to find the soldier with the medikit involved opening up the inventory and cycling through all the soldiers, and then dragging the medikit into the main hand and closing the inventory and healing the target soldier and then opening the inventory again and swapping the medikit back with the primary weapon and then closing the inventory again. Now you can just click on the medkit.

Regarding the standardised carrying capacities - this means that all soldiers will have a set carry capacity (e.g. 25KG) and this will not improve as soldiers gain combat experience ... for now, at least. It's possible we'll allow soldiers to start with or gain a perk like "strong" that increases their carrying capacity later in development, but we'll start with the simplest form of the system and build from there.

We're doing this because in Xenonauts every soldier has a unique carrying capacity - and it changed after every mission (because the soldier would gain Strength). What this meant was that equipping a soldier was far more fiddly than it should be. Switching a soldier to a new loadout should have been a breeze using our loadout templates in the first game, but in practice you had to tweak the grenades for every almost soldier each time you changed template so they weren't encumbered. It was particularly bad if an experienced soldier was killed or injured, because a replacement rookie would have 20-30 less points of Strength and would need a whole new loadout.

Having a far more limited number of carry capacities means that equipping and switching the roles of all soldiers becomes much faster. It also arguably improves the game balance; early in Xenonauts 1 you have to make some tough choices about how much gear to bring along but after a dozen missions your veteran soldiers are strong enough to bring whatever they want. 

As I mentioned previously, the missing functionality may be added back in other ways - e.g. perhaps a soldier could only increase their carrying capacity by through training Strength, rather than by carrying a heavy backpack on the battlefield. That would mean the player is actively choosing to train that soldier's carry capacity over improving their weapon skills, which is always more interesting. But that's stuiff we'll experiment with later in development.

 

Stress / Fatigue:

The final thing to talk about is how we are putting pressure on players to rotate their squad - as it's more interesting when you're not just using the same soldiers every single battle. We're hoping to have some pressure from the Geoscape in terms of events and Field Operations that may entice you to temporarily assign key soldiers elsewhere for a number of turns, but I think there is room for a stick as well as a carrot.

The "stress" system is what may force you to rotate soldiers out of your squad. Being sent on a combat mission cause a soldier Stress, and certain battlefield events (like getting shot or seeing fellow Xenonauts killed) causes additional stress. If this ever gets too high, the soldier suffers a mental breakdown that inflicts a large amount of extra stress ... and then they are unable to fight until they have recovered.

Stress heals on a daily basis, with the rate being set by the Base Comfort value of ATLAS Base. Right now this is just a fixed value but we may add new buildings (e.g. a Rec Room) that increase the Comfort level so troops recover from Stress more quickly.

The other area where this system may tie into existing systems is through Morale and Bravery, which were somewhat underutilised in the first game and may be even less useful in X2 if we remove the alien psionic powers that a lot of people complained about. It's feasible that Bravery could modify the amount of stress a soldier takes from a specific event, so soldiers with higher Bravery can fight for longer before they suffer ill effects.

Morale could then just show the current stress level of the soldier, and if it ever goes above 100 in a mission then the soldier starts panicking ... which means low-stress soldiers (even rookies) will essentially never panic, but taking a high-stress soldier into battle is pretty dangerous. Potentially a panicking soldier might have to pass a test at the start of each turn based on their rank / combat experience to see whether they get any TU that turn or not, so an experienced soldier could fight through the panic (although they'll suffer a breakdown after the mission) but a panicking rookie is highly unlikely to do anything useful for the remainder of the mission.

Right now the implementation is kinda simple and it needs quite a bit of balancing, but I think this system could turn into something quite interesting by the end of development!

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Maybe there are training that can be applied to soldiers to improve their aptitude towards one type of weapon, armor type, level of mobility, etc They might be randomly picked when recruited, or the base commander can choose them / train towards them when he sees what their attributes are like and decide on what the current need is. What about a dodge mechanic – simply applied as a negative to the accuracy of those attacking the soldier? Someone wearing heavy armor might have negative dodge (i.e. enemies get bonuses to hit them), but their armor can soak up more hits so that's the choice they've made.  Certain characters might have concealment / invisibility gear which gives them very high dodge bonus, but if someone gets lucky with AOE weapons or is able to see them another way, then they're at a great disadvantage for not choosing heavier armor.

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Just for the record, I´m against "if we remove the alien psionic powers that a lot of people complained about." I found it it interesting to recruit not just athletes but also less sporty soldiers with higher bravery.

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love these updates, and this one is chopped up in so many small posts that its difficult to pay proper attention to all of it.

-weapon familiarity, okay skill system for soldiers. but the value of it of coarse depends on the value of the relevant weapons within the proficiency bracket. since you seem to have more different weapon classes this time around, it may be prudent to stick them to 1 class regardless of the tech tier of the weapon

looking at the backpack system change, this limits loadouts....rifle+rockets, SMG+shotty or whatever build you want to make. if this causes balance problems because the weapon system adds bonus TU/MS (stuff that can be used without actually operating the weapon or tool), these specific changes might be what throws the balance out of wack...not so much the ability to load up on multiple (heavy) weapons. the backpack system also allowed soldiers to carry a lot of small stuff, something that having just the belt and a sidearm slot specifically prohibits.  

the X1 belt was an oddity, they where extra inventory slots but it didn't seem to do a whole lot...this may be because if you wanted to use something from the belt, you technically still had to stow your main weapon in the backpack (unless you already had a free hand, a rare occurance) but what I did like is that it had a 6 tile gap that allowed the stowage of sidearms (pistol/baton) for better use of the belt, a item like the sling could be added, preventing the need to stow/drop the 2-handed-weapon the sling is attached to when operating belt drawn items (grenades, ammo, explosive charges and sidearms) giving belt stowed items a more noticeable TU-saving property.

stress, I'm okay with using a fatigue system to bypass the A-team saves the world problem. just make sure that it doesn't become a rimworld stress management simulator when doing the atlas base operations.

how large will the teams be? X1's 8>10>12 or has the squad size been changed drastically?

 

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On 4/30/2018 at 2:57 PM, Casaubon said:

found it it interesting to recruit not just athletes but also less sporty soldiers with higher bravery.

One issue with the levelling/stats in X1 was that two fully trained soldiers would be indistinguishable. You might recruit a sharp shooter and a hulk but by the final mission they'd both have 100 of each stat (although I never managed to grind reactions to the max). Obviously it is nice to have some freedom in the development of your brave little dudes but that freedom doesn't need to extend to turning them all into the same super soldier. I guess that this is what Firaxis did, with each soldier class ending up having very different stats by the time they reach colonel. Here, I like the sound of proficiency and equipment giving large boosts to stats, so that you can potentially turn any soldier into a fit sniper, or at least, have them use that long range rifle to train their aim stat.

Given this partial disconnect between combat experience and stats, I wonder if there is room to make rank a play a different role. I'm thinking here in terms of bravery and stress, that the presence of a respected officer is a buff to the squad. The player would choose to promote/demote soldiers and that choice would affect bravery both via the buff but also through the respect that officer commands. So, if you promote a soldier who hasn't earned enough kills, then the other soldiers don't get any benefit. If you promote too many soldiers, then they don't get a buff either. If you create a solid and justified command structure, then everyone wins.

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Some interesting approaches possible with training - you could even abstract out weapon types completely if that seems a little weird to have knowledge transfer across tiers... not sure it's a better idea, but something like.

controlling recoil of burst fire (less spread on burst)

precision shots (increased accuracy for aimed and/or scope shots)

quick draw (less TUs for snap shots)

then general proficiency with ballistics, energy, rockets, etc.


You could even make mutually exclusive choices, though this might get a little convoluted, though each sort of makes soldiers lean towards different roles with how they use their weapons:

burst fire (recoil control: slightly reduce spread, pray and spray: reduce TUs some slight nerf to accuracy)

aimed shots (controlled breathing: increase accuracy, precision shot: more damage but more TUs)

snap shots (quick draw: reduce TUs, sixth sense: increase accuracy against targets within x tiles)

This would help give a bit more of a "role" to soldiers and some uniqueness outside of normal stats.
 

If you really felt like adding flavor you could have the choice (out of a few random ones) of relatively minor perks/traits when you get a promotion, or certain key tiers of promotion:

quick reload, throw further, heals more / heals for more, etc.

 

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1 hour ago, erutan said:

Some interesting approaches possible with training - you could even abstract out weapon types completely if that seems a little weird to have knowledge transfer across tiers... not sure it's a better idea, but something like.

controlling recoil of burst fire (less spread on burst)

precision shots (increased accuracy for aimed and/or scope shots)

quick draw (less TUs for snap shots)

then general proficiency with ballistics, energy, rockets, etc.


You could even make mutually exclusive choices, though this might get a little convoluted, though each sort of makes soldiers lean towards different roles with how they use their weapons:

burst fire (recoil control: slightly reduce spread, pray and spray: reduce TUs some slight nerf to accuracy)

aimed shots (controlled breathing: increase accuracy, precision shot: more damage but more TUs)

snap shots (quick draw: reduce TUs, sixth sense: increase accuracy against targets within x tiles)

This would help give a bit more of a "role" to soldiers and some uniqueness outside of normal stats.
 

If you really felt like adding flavor you could have the choice (out of a few random ones) of relatively minor perks/traits when you get a promotion, or certain key tiers of promotion:

quick reload, throw further, heals more / heals for more, etc.

 

training allows for a wide range of applications, but it should, in my opinion at least..never change the potency of the weapon or tool...aka not the X-com training that allowed your grenades to deal more damage or have a larger blast radius. upgrading grenades is something your technology does, not the soldiers training or experience.

this means that training is focused on what the soldier influences when operating the gun, how fast he can acquire targets with accuracy (TU cost reduction, trained by racing through gauntlets like a kill-house) how accurate the person can shoot (ranges, increases operators accuracy rating for the used gun type)

when training for different purposes, like a medic..the medkit doesn't actually heal more, battlefield medicine in these games can be seen more like quickly putting on a band aid and fixing the actual problem later..combat medics would be trained to do that faster, but they won't have magically improved tools.

training for thrown grenades is actually worthwhile, throwing something is a remarkably undervalued skill. grenades need to be thrown far, and accurate and often over obstacles like walls. there are many games that show that throwing an object accurately can already be a reasonable challenge (darts, jeu de boule, faire can's), and distance alone proves to be Olympic (javelin, disc and cannonball) fast and reasonably accurate all attract prime atletes (soft and baseball, basketball) imagine having to hit a stack of cans 50 meters away from behind a screen, that is roughly what a soldier has to do when seeing the top of a window over a wall.

yet in the newer X-coms even the base rookies can throw grenades with pinpoint accuracy.   

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Grenades in XCOM are used for guaranteed damage and cover busting. It is a mechanic that fits into the gameplay since each soldier usually gets no more than one grenade. From what I understand, a real world application of grenades is to attack an enemy in an entrenched, well-covered position. I'd say that this translates into xenonauts in that you get sufficient blast radius to hit an enemy you cant shoot.

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On 4/29/2018 at 7:06 AM, RustyNayle said:

Maybe there are training that can be applied to soldiers to improve their aptitude towards one type of weapon, armor type, level of mobility, etc They might be randomly picked when recruited, or the base commander can choose them / train towards them when he sees what their attributes are like and decide on what the current need is. What about a dodge mechanic – simply applied as a negative to the accuracy of those attacking the soldier? Someone wearing heavy armor might have negative dodge (i.e. enemies get bonuses to hit them), but their armor can soak up more hits so that's the choice they've made.  Certain characters might have concealment / invisibility gear which gives them very high dodge bonus, but if someone gets lucky with AOE weapons or is able to see them another way, then they're at a great disadvantage for not choosing heavier armor.

Yeah, that's kinda what the training model listed above does - it's training towards specific types of weapon competency, and a few other things. The suggestion about dodge is something already supported in the game (although it's just called "defence") but it's not really something we're making use of. Given it's so important to keep your soldiers alive, it's usually much better to have consistent protection rather than to take no damage at all 90% of the time and then get really badly hurt the other 10%.

On 5/1/2018 at 6:23 PM, Conductiv said:

love these updates, and this one is chopped up in so many small posts that its difficult to pay proper attention to all of it.

-weapon familiarity, okay skill system for soldiers. but the value of it of coarse depends on the value of the relevant weapons within the proficiency bracket. since you seem to have more different weapon classes this time around, it may be prudent to stick them to 1 class regardless of the tech tier of the weapon

looking at the backpack system change, this limits loadouts....rifle+rockets, SMG+shotty or whatever build you want to make. if this causes balance problems because the weapon system adds bonus TU/MS (stuff that can be used without actually operating the weapon or tool), these specific changes might be what throws the balance out of wack...not so much the ability to load up on multiple (heavy) weapons. the backpack system also allowed soldiers to carry a lot of small stuff, something that having just the belt and a sidearm slot specifically prohibits.  

the X1 belt was an oddity, they where extra inventory slots but it didn't seem to do a whole lot...this may be because if you wanted to use something from the belt, you technically still had to stow your main weapon in the backpack (unless you already had a free hand, a rare occurance) but what I did like is that it had a 6 tile gap that allowed the stowage of sidearms (pistol/baton) for better use of the belt, a item like the sling could be added, preventing the need to stow/drop the 2-handed-weapon the sling is attached to when operating belt drawn items (grenades, ammo, explosive charges and sidearms) giving belt stowed items a more noticeable TU-saving property.

stress, I'm okay with using a fatigue system to bypass the A-team saves the world problem. just make sure that it doesn't become a rimworld stress management simulator when doing the atlas base operations.

how large will the teams be? X1's 8>10>12 or has the squad size been changed drastically?

Squads are currently 8, but there's a version of the dropship model that can hold 12 soldiers. So it's likely to be fairly similar to X1 in terms of squad sizes.

Yes, the new inventory system does limit your choices a bit - but I'm not sure you lose much by preventing a soldier from bringing a whole backpack full of rifles (or whatever). There was always tension in X1 because realistically a soldier can carry a LOT of stuff for a short length of time (and X1 missions don't last long), but in real life a combat mission tends to last a long time and involve a lot of running around ... which is why you don't see a soldier carrying a LMG and a sniper rifle at the same time.

I think the new system lets us have a bigger variety of cool equipment by enforcing some limits on what each soldier can carry. If you don't have those limits (and we didn't in X1) it's much harder to have cool stuff, because each soldier can just take all of the cool things at once.

On 5/5/2018 at 11:47 AM, Ninothree said:

Given this partial disconnect between combat experience and stats, I wonder if there is room to make rank a play a different role. I'm thinking here in terms of bravery and stress, that the presence of a respected officer is a buff to the squad. The player would choose to promote/demote soldiers and that choice would affect bravery both via the buff but also through the respect that officer commands. So, if you promote a soldier who hasn't earned enough kills, then the other soldiers don't get any benefit. If you promote too many soldiers, then they don't get a buff either. If you create a solid and justified command structure, then everyone wins.

The problem I had in X1 is just that morale wasn't used very much. I think the most senior officer did give a morale bonus based on their rank, but the actual effect on the game of this was minimal.

On 5/5/2018 at 6:15 PM, erutan said:

Some interesting approaches possible with training - you could even abstract out weapon types completely if that seems a little weird to have knowledge transfer across tiers... not sure it's a better idea, but something like.
<snip>

If you really felt like adding flavor you could have the choice (out of a few random ones) of relatively minor perks/traits when you get a promotion, or certain key tiers of promotion: quick reload, throw further, heals more / heals for more, etc.

I think having random perks / traits makes more sense when you hire soldiers rather than when you level up, but it's a nice idea all the same. I think the other stuff is probably too detailed though, and it doesn't have the same ease of understanding than "shoot at aliens with a sniper rifle to get better with a sniper rifle" and so forth.

On 5/5/2018 at 8:50 PM, Conductiv said:

training allows for a wide range of applications, but it should, in my opinion at least..never change the potency of the weapon or tool...aka not the X-com training that allowed your grenades to deal more damage or have a larger blast radius. upgrading grenades is something your technology does, not the soldiers training or experience.

I somewhat agree with you here - I don't think that training should allow a grenade to have a larger blast radius or do more damage, but I'm not so averse to allowing training to give a damage boost to direct fire weapons. It's not entirely illogical to think that a well trained soldier would be better able to shoot an enemy in the head rather than in the body and thereby do more damage.

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I'm not sure I like the idea that weapons give you higher TUs. That sounds excessively odd. Why am I able to run further just because I'm holding an SMG as opposed to a sniper rifle? As someone who has done military service, I don't run further in a set time because I have a pistol over a rifle. I still run the same distance (unless I'm heavily weighed down by other equipment, but that's decided by overencumberance).

I'd much rather prefer if an SMG, instead, took less TUs to fire compared to the sniper rifle (thus simulating that it's a faster handling weapon) than causing my soldier to gain magical running ability.

 

As for psi-powers I always found them to add an addition challenge, but it was somewhat binary. Either you recruited only high-bravery soldiers and were thus not very affected by psi, or you were a beginner player and got murdered in your first psi encounter. 

I think that if psi powers were more interesting and caused my interesting effects, that'd be much cooler. Such as hallucinations (seeing enemies where there are none, or interpreting civilians as aliens, or even your own soldiers as enemies, that'd do something. Of course, you'd have to find a way to do this without easily cheesing it (such as selecting another soldier and seeing "the true" world. This could, probably, be worked around if the world adapted to what only the selected soldier could see. Not sure. Might be too tedious.

 

That said, everything else in your post is highly interesting, particularly "rookies aren't useless" and gaining proficiency in specific weapon types. Sounds very interesting and I look forward to this a lot. 

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Posted (edited)

I really love the idea of taking a different slant on psi combat than the original X-COM and various spinoffs.  For a soldier to be heavily influenced by an alien to go beserk and fire at anyone near him or even hallucinate and shoot at thin air seems more in tune with your theme of inducing dark emotions / everything is not what it seems rather than direct alien control.  What if the mental strain of resisting the aliens' psi powers were able to cause stun damage, the equivalent of suppressed, or possibly even making the soldier catatonic for some turns.  Certainly the prospect of "psi wounds" that they have to heal from makes psi opponents a lot more scary than their current temporary effects do.  I can't remember if it was in the core game or because of a mod I'm using on this second play through of Xe1 that soldiers could be paralysed?

Something else I thought of, what if agents recruited from different nations and/or organisations have stats reflecting their backgrounds, and they might even have develooment programs which improve their stock throughout the game? Long War did a great job of having many options for the starting base which really increased the replayability of the game, so if you came up with your own version of this it would be great.

When soldiers are so badly injured they get booted off assignment to a dropship, I can understand why their equipment gets taken off them so other sollies can use it, but it can be quite annoying when those that fill his shoes are already equipped anyway, and then you have to go and re-equip that soldier after they finally recover.  I like that the availability of weapons and armor has a 0+1 on it, so even though technically there's no unequipped item of that type available, there is someone in the infirmary with an item of that type which you can use.  This is enough on its own, you don't have to automatically unequip everything from a soldier when they're badly wounded.

Edited by RustyNayle

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I have yet to read visig's Bravery thread, but here are my two cents:

- Stress induced by the encounters: a first encounter with a new alien type could induce a huge amount of stress, especially if they are scary (think Reapers or Androns). On the other hand, classes (i.e. training) on the type of Aliens for your soldiers could alleviate some of the stress of the encounter, since they at least theoretically already know what they are up against. It could also tie well with the knowledge gained from autopsy (vulnerabilities) and interrogations (behaviour) into one lecture (training unit) about a certain type of Alien. Since you are aiming to track weapon proficiency for each soldier, that would not be a major addition.

- Healing stress/combat fatigue: I always found it odd that in Xenonauts and the XCOMs your soldiers were in the base all the time, even if the campaign went for years. Sure, you can have a rec room, you can implement hiring psychologists to help deal with stress, but what about home leave for the soldiers? It is a thing in the military, and even special forces soldiers get to go home once in a while. You could combine that nicely with the risk of some information leaking out at the covert stage, along of course with the penalty of not having your soldier available when you might need her/him.

- Just a tiny correction, Chris: In real military, dedicated (scout-) snipers always carry a rifle as a close range defense weapon. The only exception might be squad snipers who can rely on their squad members to defend them and likely merely carry a sidearm. Essentially, every soldier is primarily a rifleman, and secondarily the expert in his field. That also includes rocket launcher carriers (that one I know from personal experience, and is also depicted wrongly in the Xeno1 template classes) and combat medics. For the game I don't really mind though, I am fairly optimistic that you will include some sidearms to compensate.

- I think some exclusivity in the way your soldiers progress could help in not having the same rambo eight times in the end game, as little as that may make sense in reality. To stay in your example world, training (or gaining) sniper proficiency level X should disable e.g. LMG proficiency level 4-X from being trained (so level 1 would lock level 3 of something else, level 2 would lock level 2 and level 3 would lock level 1). Rifle and pistol training could stay available for every soldier. Another alternative would be to limit the sum of all trained levels to some number, perhaps even depending on the skill level.

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On 6/3/2018 at 12:48 AM, Dagar said:

- Stress induced by the encounters: a first encounter with a new alien type could induce a huge amount of stress, especially if they are scary (think Reapers or Androns)... proficiency for each soldier...

I like @Dagar's idea of the first mission in which the player encounters a new alien type could result in greater chance of stress on the soldiers, and that autopsy / interrogation will increase soldiers' bravery against unpredictable things that alien type might do.  However, I don't think it's worth tracking whether each individual soldier has encountered an alien type yet, or if they have a proficiency in combating stress against a certain alien type.  The way the autopsy / interrogation reports worked in Xe1, the player was actually presented with information which inferred that the soldiers had all been briefed on it as well (hence the new bonus to hit, or whatever it was).

- ... odd that in Xenonauts and the XCOMs your soldiers were in the base all the time... what about home leave for the soldiers? ... combine that nicely with the risk of some information leaking out at the covert stage, along of course with the penalty of not having your soldier available when you might need her/him.

YES!  Send a soldier away on leave to reduce fatigue / psychological wounds, and there's a chance they might be hunted by the aliens and have to fend them off in their diminished capacity until the rest of the Xenonauts arrive to help them out.  What if they were even to go to a greater detail and specify if certain potential recruits have families or not, which will affect their requirement for down time, and create potential liabilities if the families are targeted by enemies.  A fresh recruit with no strings attached might be more attractive than a highly skilled soldier with a family.

 

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2 hours ago, RustyNayle said:

What if they were even to go to a greater detail and specify if certain potential recruits have families or not, which will affect their requirement for down time, and create potential liabilities if the families are targeted by enemies.  A fresh recruit with no strings attached might be more attractive than a highly skilled soldier with a family.

 

That sounds really cool, but I am pretty sure Goldhawk will not add another mission type out of the blue. It would make sense though to specifically hunt the families of renowned veterans (in contrast to the recruits you mentioned), which would also give players another incentive not to take the same soldiers on missions all the time - Aliens will begin to recognize (and dread? - Alien morale system!) specific soldiers, and try to bring them down any way possible...

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On 4/23/2018 at 8:56 PM, Chris said:

The final thing to talk about is how we are putting pressure on players to rotate their squad - as it's more interesting when you're not just using the same soldiers every single battle. We're hoping to have some pressure from the Geoscape in terms of events and Field Operations that may entice you to temporarily assign key soldiers elsewhere for a number of turns, but I think there is room for a stick as well as a carrot.

You didn't seem to mention any carrot after that.

Do you mean something like peak performance? I think an excellent use for the stress mechanic would be a soldier being "in the zone", where if the stress level of a soldier is sitting in a certain golden range (not too stressed, but not too calm) they have a boost to their accuracy, bravery, reflexes, and maybe even their XP gain since they're paying more attention. The bravery boost keeps them in the zone fairly well, but if their stress rises too high they lose that bravery boost and become more susceptible to a stress spiral.

Medals gained from their combat experiences, especially the purple heart, could expand the range of stress values considered "in the zone" maybe even to the point that they're "in the zone" on the very first turn before they even leave the dropship. Just like every war movie where a new recruit joins the platoon, and his optimism makes him ineffective compared to the veteran soldiers who are constantly on edge.

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Overall sounds good but the inventory system bugs me. I think instead of removing the backbag you could make it cost TUs to take/switch items in your inventory to prevent people from exploiting the extra weapons they might have.(I mean irl if you started to dig your backbag in front of your enemies, you would be dead)there could also be belt or holster slots which would cost less TU to take things from, making them preferrable for grenades, handguns etc. In my opinion UFO:AI has great inventory system. I haven't played the first xenonauts so I can't say anything about that.

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Posted (edited)

I have to agree with thejere213 here. Everything sounds good except the inventory system. I rather enjoy the inventory tetris and the flexibility it allows. Just make browsing the backpack a very TU expensive action. You could also have different armors have different backpack sizes etc. to further differentiate units. One could have a front line tank with no backpack at all, a fast unprotected scout with a large backpack or anything between. Fast access belts for extra ammo, grenades and small sidearms.

Edited by Skitso

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On 4/23/2018 at 1:56 PM, Chris said:

Soldier Inventory:

The soldier inventory system has been streamlined a little - the main weapon slot, armour slot and the belt slots are all the same as before. However instead of a backpack, soldiers now get a general "secondary item" slot that can hold a smaller item like a medikit or stun baton (but not a full-size weapon). You can still pick items up from the floor and so forth, but you have to swap out the item already in that slot when you do so.

Note that the number of belt slots available and whether there will be a secondary item slot is based on the equipped armour - we now have variables to set whether certain types of armour have more carrying capacity than others.

The first objective here is to be able to display all the equipment a soldier has on the UI, so you can easily access secondary items without having to go into the inventory screen and play tetris. This isn't really because inventory tetris gets tiresome (although it does), it's mostly so you can easily find the guy that has a medikit / whatever without having to go through additional layers of screens. This sort of thing worked well with the grenade / reload quickslots and I think the added convenience outweighs the slight loss of complexity.

The second objective is to support some of the new mechanics above - having a SMG grant you a bunch of extra TU is a bit overpowered under the old X1 system, as the player can cheerfully sprint about with the SMG selected until they encounter some aliens and then just pull a sniper rifle out of their backpack. In this system, you're locked into your primary weapon (unless you pick one up of a dead guy) and so taking that SMG is a decision likely to have more consequences. Similarly you now have to choose between a medikit or a secondary weapon for your snipers or heavy weapon troopers, rather than just getting to take both ... and because a secondary is now a defined slot, you can have more variants of things to put in it (e.g. the pistol could easily be split into a short-range automatic machine pistol and a longer-range scoped semi-auto).

Some people might be disappointed by the headline change of shrinking down the backpack, but quite honestly the change is just moving complexity elsewhere rather than simplifying the game!

 

 

And WTF are you doing??? Why do you think, that deleting backpack will make X2 better??? You just killing another good feature of the game (other one is single base instead of multiple ones)!!! In X1 it was normal (and realistic) thet soldier have 2 weapon at same time. For example I usually used Machinegunner with rocket launcher, combine sniper rifles with SMGs, rifles with SMGs or Shotguns, also any soldier carry couple of grenades and some ammo+medpack... and yes there always was choise- you have universal soldier, packed for long\med range and CQB at same time, or heavy firepower and AT weapon, or you give them less gear, but save more AP... with deleting backpack you just make such coise gone, with any tactical flexibility, and complexity of ground combat, and yes you just SIMPLIFYING the game instead of make it more interesting =(

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Posted (edited)

We don't have access to the original discussions now, but inventory simplification was one of the more heated discussions when X2 features was being planned.  The new discussions is going to a direction that reminds me of the old one.

If my memory servers, one of the aims is indeed to limit the flexibility of soldiers to make the game easier to balance, because the idea that soldiers can switch their primary weapon and thus their primary role on the field is opposed by Chris.  This part I also don't agree with and have posted real WW2 commando photos in the old discussion.

But there are other purposes, such as make the primary and secondary items more interesting (because you'd be limited to one of each), and the simplified inventory makes UI much simpler, these I do appreciate.  A working soldier equipment screen can be previewed from the Kickstarter video, and I think it is quite a bit cleaner than X1.

If you ask me, I would be happy with current system if we add another primary for switching, to keep the best of both worlds.  But unlike turn based geoscape, I don't think Chris will run into unexpected gameplay experience for the new inventory system, so I am expecting the new inventory to stay.

Edited by Sheepy

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Posted (edited)

Maybe the secondary item slot could be two-part, so you could equip two small items or a one larger like a body? This could further help to balance the game. Is there a way to move bodies in this new system anyways?

Edited by Skitso
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Hello there. I understand that it's maybe out of global stormtroops' battle design, but do you have any plans about spot/stealth system for solders? Maybe it's too late in this stage of development, but such feature creates a new level of strategy in combat. Silent storm, for instance, had appropriate type of spot/stealth system and pretty close stat and battle system. Because at the moment there are no effective dedicated scout presets and abilities, you always scout with facecheck (or by scans, I assume).
For instance, spot works with sight range and hearing. There could be additional scout tree, improving sight, hearing and both parameters at night. You can work with sight angle etc. High ground should improve sight range, and there should be additional perk for sight on high ground.

At the same time, high encumbrance should lead to lower stealth, just as heavy armor and weapon. Perks like silent step, surpise attack(no reaction fire check for the first time being spotted if we see the enemy) and some other options.

What do you think? Does such feature have it's place in xenonauts' tactical fights?

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@GedxBlood I think that stealth is an interesting mechanic to play with, but in practice, the XCOM2 implementation of it left me feeling that it just isn't that exciting. Maybe if the maps were bigger and then it could become more developed. On the other hand, looking at the darkness of a tile as an element of cover would be interesting. So visibility of the units within wouldn't be affected, but hiding in the shadows would make the unit harder to hit.

In terms of the inventory discussion: I think people want to make a mule of a soldier or two, to stock a dude up with 25 grenades and give someone else three riot shields, just for the hell of it. Sure, it is a laugh but is it a form of cheating? Does it circumvent the carefully balanced stats for the weapons? You've got to disengage what seems fun and tactical, from what is actually a way to cheese the game. My gut feeling is that the inventory should have a secondary weapon slot and a backpack that can't carry weapons - so you'd use it for utility items, grenades or ammo. That way you still face the disadvantages of your weapon choice but you get a bit of freedom to mule. Grenades aren't so OP in Xenonauts that a stockpile of them would trivialise ground combat. That is the point essentially, if you want each soldier to be able to bring along 25* one item, then that item can't be very good. Overall, I agree that XCOM-level streamlining of the inventory is too far, but I have to say that people wanting the option to equip a soldier with three weapon classes are missing the point.

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3 hours ago, Ninothree said:

In terms of the inventory discussion: I think people want to make a mule of a soldier or two, to stock a dude up with 25 grenades and give someone else three riot shields, just for the hell of it. Sure, it is a laugh but is it a form of cheating? Does it circumvent the carefully balanced stats for the weapons? You've got to disengage what seems fun and tactical, from what is actually a way to cheese the game.

No, no and no =) It`s just about a thing that worked good, and is going to be changed to something, that actually will NOT work good. There is no need for 25 grenades, 3 riot shield and other crazy stuff, that you explaining here, just something, making tactical combat really tactical, and preparations before sending ground team on the mission really important at least in choise, i`ve explained- more AP vs more universal gear on soldier... in new inventory system there is no choise, and only one option for each soldier, and that is not good. And above there was a word about unexpected game experience...new inventory system IS unexpected game experience, and old one is "expected" =)

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I was more focused on the "spot" idea, sight and sound range. Stealth is just a counter-stat for spot there. I dont like stealth from XCOM 2 too (it's too simple obviously, being invisible in one square before an enemy, lol), and xenonauts is not about stealth missions, so it doesn't fit in such manner. Nevertheless, I have a feeling that this hide-detection level of the game can create far more interesting and accurate gameplay, at the same time providing space for more different opponents and different builds.


I just felt a little bit unfair being shot from darkness without even seeing the enemy. Later on I found ways to scout the area, but it's still pretty stupid to open the door and get a shot right in your face.

In the same situation in a game with pretty close tactical gameplay (SS) I could just move around by scout and find most threats(silently crouching around with high native spot stat). Even being spotted, but atleast spotting them first. It doesn't help so much vs ambushes, but it's kinda intuitive tool.

About items - balancing backpack is more about weight and weapon size, I suppose. I felt like xenonauts 1 backpack system was okay. Changing the number of slots in inventory might fix most problems. If the shield takes almost all backpack space - you cant abuse it. Same applies almost to any kind of weapon or explosives. If the problem is in 3 weapons - make them big enough, taking 3/5 of backpack, so just a small one can be added (or some grenades). 

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