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visig

Thinking about Bravery and Morale System

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Too long as a reply, so migrate from Xenonauts-2: Soldiers Thread

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The following article try to discuss how to make Bravery and Morale become a meanful & critical part in ground combat.

 

# Thinking about Bravery and Morale System

Honestly, I never like the morale system in the whole XCOM series. This system never introduce any interesting and important decisions at least for me. I think it's due to the "morale penalty curve" not continuously.

Let me explain:

- If your solider has 100% morale, everything is good. So go forward and attack.
- If your solider has 80% morale, everything is good. So go forward and attack.
- If your solider has 60% morale, everything is good. So go forward and attack.
- If your solider has 40% morale and not panic yet, you may worry about next turn but everything still good in this turn. Your solider have full fire power output without any penalty. So if a alien in your weapon range, your usually do the same things like before: Attack (because if success, you will restore more morale, this is what you want).
- Until your solider really panic by a dice.

You see, morale not really let us do any real / interesting decisions. It more like some sudden disaster.

 

## Simplify the Assumptions

For clarify and simplify, I using some basic assumptions for the following thinking (the detail can be tweaked if implement necessary). Include:

- The maximum of morale always 100.
- Morale will slight restore each turn. (for example: 5 point each turn)
- Bravery affect only "how many morale down", but not about max morale. For example: soldier with high Bravery only lost small amount of morale when him be hit.

 

Hint: I ignore "Stress" effect in following discuss but It can assembled to any factors at later easily. E.g., a modifier of real Bravery, a modifier of max morale, control how much morale restore each turn. etc.

 

## Phase 1: Continuous Penalty Curve

Let's consider more smooth penalty curve with morale decrease. For example:

    real accuracy = base accuracy - (1/2 morale decreased)

So...

- If 20 morale decreased, will reduce 10 accuracy.
- If 40 morale decreased, will reduce 20 accuracy.

 

Now, each morale point are more and more important than before. If one of your solider feel the situation are horrible in his mind (maybe real situation not so bad in whole battlefield scope). You will have a very good reason let him (her) retreat / regroup / take a breath / use TUs to find a good cover in this turn, but not do some attacks with his (her) low accuracy.

Beside, the original panic system can still working on low morale level.

 

## Phase 2: Enhance Morale Management

If phase 1 be implemented, we can expect players will much care about how to control soldier's morale. So we can introduce more mechanism about how morale up and down.

Here is some morale decreasing events (each are independently):

- Be flanked by aliens.
- Approaching or sudden find a alien in close range. (so a brave solider are more suitable for close range / in house combat, even they don't have good SMG skill level, and a sniper may not need too much Bravery. We can also imagine two Reapers rush to three soldiers with well armed but leak bravery.)
- Bullets pass / hit ground around soldiers.
- Soldiers pass through some "Dreadful Tiles" (not only when soldiers stay at there -- it's more like how we using TUs).

 

### "Dreadful Tiles" rules

The last "Dreadful Tiles" rules maybe more interesting. Those dreadful tiles may include following:

- Some tiles be consider as low visibility (dubious) area. E.g., low light area, long grass, swamp, maybe also include smoke.
- Some tiles with continuous damage. E.g., fire.

 

In all XCOM series. "Difficult tiles" only mean "Need much of TUs to walk through". So if player find a long grass area, that exact mean "No matter you walk bypass or not, you just cannot pass through this area in 2 turn". No more decisions.

But If we accept the Dreadful Tiles concept. And make those tiles not need so much TUs as before. Then the question become "we can rush through this area in one turn but suffer morale (= accuracy) penalty in future few turns, or use 2 turns to bypass this area".

This model can be more exciting for implicit story talk. For example, a brave hero / MARS may more suitable rush in a UFO through fire or dark backdoor, because they only receive lower / no morale penalty, and other guys should tie up most enemies on front door, although front door has harder defence. More deeply, Low morale team will keep distance with dreadful area to avoid out of control (panic). If player fighting in a dubious / dark area, all soldiers may can't even move due to mental factor (penalty by incoming bullets and dreadful tiles) except the team has a brave one who can rush out the blood road.

 

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After implement those things, the Bravery are never become a secondary attribute but a critical part to build a dynamic mental battlefield which deep interact with physical battlefield. The vehicles (if exists) also become more featureful due to it immunity to morale effect.

And of course, phase 1 / 2 mechanism can / should also be used on aliens side (with some modify to reflect some aliens's character like feel comfortable in darkness, etc.). So a lot of missing LMG bullets can still significant reduce aliens shot back efficiency even they are not fully suppressed. if player fire enough of bullets then even force them panic or retreat.

Let a small team to flanking enemies can also offer more benefit and allow main squadron attack more aggressive (due to enemy morale down = accuracy down). Player also has more reason to avoid be flanked. So recon team are more important in here -- Btw, if a team try to flanking enemy then mean they are also easier be flanked. So brave soldiers are more suitable to do that. It's provide more sense of reality.

Back a step, if phase 2 too difficult to implement, I guess phase 1 can still working independent. And may interesting than original "panic or not" system. (Actually, phase 2 contain a lot of independent things and can be implement / choice splitly)

 

## MAY Interesting Idea

Not so sure, just logging here.

### Simplifications

1. Soldiers ONLY panic when morale reach 0, replace original % chance panic at low morale level. It allow player easier to estimate how many morale should reserved in complex environment.

2. Bravery should only affect how many morale decrease but NO affect amount of morale restore. It avoid brave soldiers has double benefit, and easier to estimate by player.
    - if we really want different restore efficiency for different soldiers, may consider use Stress. (it's mean: soldier with high Bravery and high Stress still can affort horrible battlefield in very short time but vulnerable when combat take longer)

3. Consider remove original Suppression System if morale decrease can do the samilar things.
    - I mean, the original Suppression System is a "binary" system -- If player trigger the suppression condition, she can grab huge benefit, but if just only 2 bullets go far a bit, she got nothing. It's not reality, and usually let soldiers fall in danger due to a lot of TUs / manpower was wasted by attempt to suppress enemy but failed (just not touch the suppression's threshold). It make me depressed when soldier be killed by this reason. That's not good. The penalty curve are not smoothly here.
    - Of course, even remove suppression system, player still need some kind of indicator to show alien's morale level, let them make decision current should assault or fallback.

 

### "Take a Breath" Rule

If some TUs never used in action and reaction, when a turn started, those TUs can be converted to extra morale restoreing point.

I consider 6 TUs == 1 morales maybe good when base morale restore is 5 each turn.

For example, If a hopeless soldier has a chance to don't move, she can re-encourage herself and get about 15 point morale restore each turn. but if her busy to fight or run away, only receive 5 point morale restore each turn.

This rule focus on give player much active controllability about morale by consider how team members take cover / rotate / regroup each other in tactical operation.

 

### Others

- Dreadful tiles also decrease the amount of morale restore. (E.g., soldier hard to restore morale in darkness, player should not reorganize in this area even this location has good physical defence.)
- Soldiers close with each others can enhance Bravery.
- Allow player change area light level. E.g., find a light button in room.
- Heavy armor provide Bravery enhancement.
- Tiles around corpses be considered as a dreadful area.
- Bullets from hidden enemies or behind a soldier decrease more morale.
- Try to shot aliens but miss, will decrease morale slightly.
- Approaching (approached by) a Reapers reduce more morale than other races.

 

Hope can consider this or similar mental system. Bravery are not really useful in X1. I hope all attribute has similar importantment -- and surely with a lot of interesting tactical decisions & imaginations :D

 

 

## Appendix: Shortcoming - Morale use Real Number (E.g., 73.1)

If Bravery affect how many morale down in many events, the morale may need be considered on a Real Number (I mean a number with decimal point, like 10.5, not sure how to say it in common english) and really annoying me.

This effect much significant on Dreadful Tiles rule. I will try to use it to explain:

- Each dreadful tiles should not decrease too much (over 10) of morale, because a soldier may walk multiple tiles (maybe 20) in one time.
- We want to make some different between two soldiers with Bravery 50 and 63.

Now, suppose the formula of "Real decrease morale for specific tile type" as follow:

    real decreased morale = (base decrease morale) * (100 - Bravery) * 0.01

 

Suppose, "base decrease morale" of long grass tile is 4. The soldier with bravery 50 will suffer 2 for each tiles. But the soldier with bravery 63 will suffer 1.48 for each tiles.

1.48 is not a nice number for me because too detail and hard to estimate. And we can't simple "round it" due to this only effect on single tile and the error will be accumulated to a big number if soldier walk through 20 tiles.

One option is use 1000-based morale integer value, but it's may much annoying because other value like TUs are 100-based. it may make player confused.

Another option is use 100-based morale decimal value and round (suggest: use floor for easier to estimate) it to first digit after decimal point. Formula here:

    real decreased morale = floor_to_first_digit((base decrease morale) * (100 - Bravery) * 0.01)

 

So now the soldier with bravery 63 will suffer 1.4 for each tiles. It's relative easier to evaluate by player and not loss too much difference between Bravery 50 (2) and 63 (1.4).

It's easier to understand than 1000-based version and keep consistency with other attributes as much as possible. But still need to tweak UI to display it.

 

Or if we can not agree a number with decimal point, a alternative is make Bravery not effect with how many morale decrease but increase morale maximum, then calculate all penalty by "% morale lost", and may also restore morale by % based (example: restore 5% each turn). But It's may cause morale value over 100.

Edited by visig
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I wouldn't inflict morale damage for walking through terrain. Morale as a resource to be spent is incompatible with morale as one of the ways that the opponent can damage you.

Having suppression fire do both suppression damage and morale damage would make it either OP or useless, rather than situationally useful (either they get suppressed AND panic, dying to shotguns next round, or neither).

Frankly, there's already enough of a snowball effect; taking losses results in having fewer soldiers in the fight, which means expecting more losses. Having a strategic reason to evaluate the cost of casualties versus the benefits of accomplishing more mission objectives would be better.

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Morale is a weird one, a lot of it is tied into the psi system which is contentious anyway. There is a lot morale could do, as @visig says, like acting as a multiplier for other stats - though the effect of that wouldn't normalise the difficulty, it would only make it easier when you're already doing well and vice versa. Maybe it would work if missions were designed so that you had to gather as much morale as possible before fighting the 'boss' aliens in the final room or otherwise be forced to retreat if your squad weren't brave enough to finish the job.

In any case, whatever morale does, it should act as a distinct variable in relation to health or suppression stats - if they are too closely linked then why distinguish them? Sure, if you fire plasma bolts at me, my morale would probably take a hit but there are other stats which recognise that, being fired upon shouldn't be double-counted. Similarly, if morale is calculated by a count of enemy vs friendly deaths, what is it achieving? You should be pulling out anyway if you're losing too many soldiers. Even the idea above of "taking a breath" (for unused TU to recover morale) is odd. I think that conceptually it is really good: it makes a kind of logical sense that you could hold back a soldier to rally their strength; but would it make the gameplay any more interesting? It'd just encourage you to play slower which isn't exciting. Similarly, the stat being related to soldiers' proximity wouldn't make the game more interesting (however much sense it makes intuitively), it would just narrow the options for how to play i.e. more turtling, less flanking.

I do like the idea that morale remains a mysterious stat that carries on within and between missions, maybe have it being increased or decreased by something the player can't really control precisely. My feeling is that a brave soldier isn't necessarily one who hasn't seen any death or injury - on the contrary, they'd surely be more hardened. As a game concept, I think morale/bravery needs a specific purpose: like being a condition for a soldier to learn a particular skill or something. Otherwise, I can't see how it adds much mechanically, despite how much it is a real thing.

Edited by Ninothree

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You should try the "Hold the line!" mod to see how the morale rules can already be twisted a little (in Xenonauts-1).

In this game, morale is strongly related to psionics, and this mod alter the number of psi-able aliens and the spells they can use (effect, cost, range).

When there are 3 psions/officers/leaders aboard an UFO, you are soon overwhelmed by despair if you camp on the other side of the door too long.

Also a "strength is by the number" rule already exists and was deactivated. You can activate it in your personal settings mod.

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Thanks opinions :D

I think harder or easier, slower or faster is affected by how to balance, but not specific mechanism.

For example, if designer use the formula in phase 1 and incrasing base-accuracy by +10 -- which mean designer assume soldiers will fighting naturally with average morale = 80. If this assume is true, the game speed will similar as before.

And another reason not harder is: "enemy also affected by morale". So, not only player's soldiers are rushed by enemy will decrease morale, you rush to enemy or find a enemy in corner will decrease them morale (and weak them) too. Not only player's soldiers need to "Take a breath", enemies should also consider it, else they will exhausted very soon.

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Sorry for confusing. It's my fault.

Please allow me to clearify: all rules in phase 2 are independent and optional. Those things are no different with things in "MAY Interesting Idea" chapter. I just need some basic examples to explain the potential about morale system interact with whole battle system.

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I agree, Suppression System is duplicated if (and only if) near bullets cause morale damage (It's a optional rule in phase 2, may not want be implemented). In this situation, I think Suppression can be replaced by morale effect.

The detail reason I already place in "MAY Interesting Idea " -> "Simplifications " -> "3" section.

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I'm not so sure Dreadful Tiles concept is well, it just a basic example in phase 2.

In phase 2 I try to exploring how to let single attribute (Bravery) interact with other factor. In Dreadful Tiles case, the factor is terrain.

In many other game, different troop has different combat efficiency in different terrain. Elf should fighting in forest, knight should fighting on plain -- due to them knowledge or physical skill. But In Xenonauts, the battlefield too small to hard to use those reasons. So I just try to using morale to explain it.

Of course, we may not want to build a terrain effect in this way.

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Back to the origin, the original article just offer a basic framework to discuss "How to let morale much useful".

Even the designer also say "morale wasn't used very much", and then cause some Bravery improve are not so important (my feeling agree that) ... wait! If that is true, why not just strip the Bravery out like Strength? Or, try to let it become a real critical part? That's what I thinking.

I guess both direction are OK, but current state are not so elegant for me. Hope designer can fill that, no matter using my way or not :)

 

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On 5/30/2018 at 12:14 PM, visig said:

real accuracy = base accuracy - (1/2 morale decreased)

At first I thought this idea was too complicated, but imagine if soldiers could start off with high accuracy (makes sense with those that are well trained / have natural affinity), but low bravery and/or encountering new aliens is a huge stress on new recruits, so they will have a low effective accuracy at first.  If they manage to survive missions without major injury or trauma, and are briefed after autopsies / interrogations, their bravery increases.  This is better than supposedly experienced or trained soldiers just having an actual low accuracy score with no explanation as this genre of game tends to have.

On 5/30/2018 at 12:14 PM, visig said:

- Bullets pass / hit ground around soldiers.

This is already covered by the suppression mechanic.  Perhaps if someone is suppressed, they might also lose some morale (makes sense).  Or do it your way (wounds and even missed shots lowering morale) and add the kneeling / loss of TUs "suppression" effect as one of the possible outcomes of lowered morale, so brave soldiers aren't affected by suppression as much as others.

On 5/30/2018 at 12:14 PM, visig said:

### "Take a Breath" Rule

I really like this idea!  Psionicists have the ability to heal all morale at once in other games, but for a soldier with appropriate training to be able to steady their own resolve even a little is a great idea, and makes it a bit more gritty.  It forces encounters with a lot of morale penalties to be much more drawn out, without requiring lots of enemies to mow down, which I think suits the Secret / Cold War theme better.

On 5/30/2018 at 12:14 PM, visig said:

### "Dreadful Tiles" rules

Eh...  Not a fan of terrain directly affecting morale.  I think doing more work on the amount of concealment that certain tiles offer is a great idea, though - especially if aliens that were previously not seen by the squad suddenly revealing themselves in close range causes a massive hit to individual / group morale.  In Xe1, when soldiers could easily see aliens standing in fields of wheat it wasn't as scary as it should be in real life.  Players would direct their soldiers around those fields due to the increased TU cost, not because there might be aliens hidden among it.  The new jungle map mod for Xe1 was fantastic, as aliens could be hidden in all sorts of corners and you could even walk straight past them and not even notice (reminded me of the coral labyrinths in X-COM: Terror From the Deep).  More work on the light / shadows, and concealment mechanic would really add to the Secret / Cold War feel, I reckon!  Aliens that have an increased ability to hide as long as they are in full cover / high concealment would increase the players' paranoia, and if it resulted in soldiers being surprised by enemies then that would increase the effect of the morale mechanic.

On 5/30/2018 at 12:14 PM, visig said:

- Allow player change area light level. E.g., find a light button in room.

Yes, I think if there is going to be more work on concealment / lighting and shadows mechanics, then they definitely have to consider static lighting, and not just chucking flares around the map / using soldiers' torches on their guns.

Edited by RustyNayle

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In Xenonauts-1, what did suppression mean? That you start next round with either half of your TUs, or none of them, being virtually pinned down. As part of a more general morale system, the suppression sub-system could be reworked a little. Instead of loosing blocks of TUs, "suppression" damage could proportionally give the percent of TU loss for next tun. Then a dice could be rolled to determine how much suppression damage is converted in actual morale loss.

As for me, indeed, there is no conflict between morale and suppression: it's like bravery. Suppression bar represents your reflex resistance to instant stress. Being shot at, being wounded, being engulfed into a burst of explosion, eventually being surprised or at risk of being in awe face to some abomination: all of these situations could contribute and suppress you. If you fail your check, you can be briefly paralyzed, or simply slow down (i.e. loosing only a few TUs). Suppression loss should be negated quite rapidly.

Morale, on the other hand, would reflect your over time resistance to hostile situations, when you have time to think and figure your fate : being badly wounded (risk of death), loosing teammates, etc. Morale loss would be harder to heal. Indeed, some severe morale loss would require real medical care at the hospital. Some actions would restore a little morale: meditation, medication, execution of an alien officer, or simply knowing that your team has managed to destroy 70% of the enemy so far.

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Suppression isn't the result of being scared of bullets. Suppression is the result of seeking cover (or minimizing your profile) against the incoming fire that you are actually taking.

We don't see the effects properly because the abstractions pretend that everyone is standing still and waiting their turn while being attacked.

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Though not being a military, I disagree. When you are suppressed by a nearby burst, it's not because you seek for cover (it's too late anyways), it's because your senses are perturbed, and perhaps you loose your balance as well. It's exactly what a flashbang grenade is made for. When you go berserk (if someone can go berserk, that is), you don't fear incoming bullets anymore, so you don't seek cover anymore, and allegedly, your senses get more immune to suppressing effects.

The willingly search for cover would rather be part of the normal movement phase: you were shot at, you or someone else evaluated direction of fire, and you then decide now to seek cover or stay covered where you are, until menace is assessed and neutralizing action may begin.

In the end, both reactive tactical movement and suppression effect make you have less time to return fire and follow your agenda.

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Firstoff, i think those are actually interesting ideas that would probably benefit the gameplay.

 

9 hours ago, Decius said:

Suppression isn't the result of being scared of bullets. Suppression is the result of seeking cover (or minimizing your profile) against the incoming fire that you are actually taking.

We don't see the effects properly because the abstractions pretend that everyone is standing still and waiting their turn while being attacked.

 

4 hours ago, Rodmar18 said:

Though not being a military, I disagree. When you are suppressed by a nearby burst, it's not because you seek for cover (it's too late anyways), it's because your senses are perturbed, and perhaps you loose your balance as well. It's exactly what a flashbang grenade is made for.

 

Your disagreement stems from a common misunderstanding regarding "suppression" and what i call the 5.56 suppression-myth. Anyone who's ever fired a normal rifle knows that there's an explosion right in front of your face, and if you are not wearing ear protectors you will get hearing damage from doing it too often (and anyone who hasn't can probably figure that out rather quickly). In comparison, a normal rifle projectile - 5.56 or 7.62 doesn't make too much of a difference here - makes a "thwud" sound if it impacts something soft, or a "shhpeng" if it ricochets of metal. Those sounds are so quiet that untrained personal oftentimes are initially rather unsure whether they are even being fired on. Any idea of "physical suppression" the sort of which would be caused by a flashbang or an artillery barrage is therefore utterly laughable - if anyone would get suppressed, it would be the shooter, not the target. The smallest calibre where i'd be willing to consider the possibility of physical suppression would be 12.7 / .50 cal (which is typically mounted and not carried by infantry) ... if parts of the wall you wanted to take cover behind start to vaporize, then yes, i consider an effect of physical suppression likely. Nonetheless especially the US military continues to propagate the 5.56 suppression myth, leading to rather ridiculous numbers of bullets fired per kill. This rather confused me, until i read the excellent book "On Killing" by Dave Grossman. Ultimately, "5.56 suppression" is a rather lethal turn based game, where either side gets to "suppress" the other by wildly firing roughly in the direction of the other with no real intent of killing anyone, and then hide in cover reloading: "Sorry, I can't do anything, Sarge, I'm being suppressed!". Actual kills then happen either by artillery, airstrike, crew served weaponry or the 2% of military personel that actually shoot to kill - and those don't use rifles on autofire, ever.

There definitely is such a thing as physical suppression from massive explosions like artillery barrages or 30mm autocannons loaded with HE rounds, which then gets a bit confused with "5.56 suppression" which is actually people taking cover because they don't want to get shot (and usually also don't want to shoot anyone).

There is the valid question whether one really wants to set that straight in a video-game about killing aliens, where the hesitation to fire a killing shot would doubtlessly be far lower than in a conventional war of humans against humans.

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^ that was an interesting read. Thanks. I'm definitely more interested in computer game violence, where no one gets hurt, but it is nice to hear about the reality games are based on. Suppression is probably the same deal as shotguns though: the myth is more playable. Overall, this is why I prefer sci-fi worlds, because they make their own rules.

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20 hours ago, Drakon said:

Those sounds are so quiet that untrained personal oftentimes are initially rather unsure whether they are even being fired on. Any idea of "physical suppression" the sort of which would be caused by a flashbang or an artillery barrage is therefore utterly laughable

Indeed in game, small arms have low chance to cause suppression damage, only a 5.56 3-burst gets fair chances, but less than a single sniper rifle shot. Due to how the game works, it doesn't matter however if you fire a 5.56 small arm, a laser or a plasma weapon of equivalent caliber. As for the modelisation of physical suppression, I guess that it includes some reflex action like crouching when bits of earth and rocks start flying around you, wether you hear a smooth sound or not. Like you know that you are now aimed at. Currently in game, suppressed units get automatically in crouched position.

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Yeah, but light machineguns in xenonauts 1 were the best suppression weapon in the game ... in my eyes actually their main purpose, since damage wise high tech rifles did well enough at just killing aliens, with less reload times and TU costs. As far as "flying earth and rocks" go ... ask a hunter to fire his weapon into the ground nearby, and observe just how much earth actually goes flying. Unless they are using an elephant rifle it'll be pretty much none. They generally will refuse to fire at rocks, because the rock will just remain inert with the projectile bouncing off it and ricocheting off in a random direction.

Edited by Drakon

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On 6/6/2018 at 10:31 AM, Drakon said:

 Ultimately, "5.56 suppression" is a rather lethal turn based game, where either side gets to "suppress" the other by wildly firing roughly in the direction of the other with no real intent of killing anyone, and then hide in cover reloading: "Sorry, I can't do anything, Sarge, I'm being suppressed!". Actual kills then happen either by artillery, airstrike, crew served weaponry or the 2% of military personel that actually shoot to kill - and those don't use rifles on autofire, ever.

 

I don't have direct experience with getting shot at with lead, but there's a lot of ability to cause someone who has fair cover to refuse to stick their head out because they expect it to be hit, and there's some value to spending ammunition at an area to make the enemy not comfortable being in the open, even if it's not accurate enough to be directly dangerous. Flashbangs, Heavy MG fire or artillery seems much more like concussion damage than suppression.

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I think depending on the level of suppression which the soldier is affected by, even if they ran out of TUs before their own turn was ended, they should be forced to crouch, drop (if you allow prone, as in X-COM: Apocalypse), dive for the nearest cover, run away, go beserk, or whatever.  Then the TUs required to do this - and then some - are deducted from their next turn's TUs (rather than just a set "half of total TUs").  I like the idea of concussion damage being different than suppression, more of a dazed and half incapacitated effect rather than unwillingness to stick your head out.  The former might be dampened by special tech, but the latter is more of a morale / armor thing.

Edited by RustyNayle

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On 6/8/2018 at 8:50 PM, Decius said:

I don't have direct experience with getting shot at with lead, but there's a lot of ability to cause someone who has fair cover to refuse to stick their head out because they expect it to be hit, and there's some value to spending ammunition at an area to make the enemy not comfortable being in the open, even if it's not accurate enough to be directly dangerous.

I talked with several military personnel about this, and every single one of them agreed that at ranges above 20 meters chances to get some hits with a weapon on full auto that is not mounted decrease to nearly zero. Some of them had even done practical experiments where they had soldiers shoot at targets with single shot, burst and full auto and compared the hit rate. There was exactly one guy who stated that he sees value in full auto: not to hit anything, but to cause a distraction while another team tries to get in position elsewhere.

If i heard the sound of a sniper rifle, i'd be very keen on wanting to stick to cover. If i heard full auto fire from an m16 or kalashnikov type rifle, i'd probably feel pretty safe in sticking my head out and returning fire. I actually happen to know of several cases where exactly that happened, and the individuum shooting single, targeted shots did not get injured while being engaged by several people using their weapons on full auto. I'm very ready to believe that weapons on full auto can be used to intimidate poorly or untrained personnel, but starting your strategic planning on the assumption "Our enemy sucks" seems ill advised to me.

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Yeah this is a good point.  Morale wasn't very interesting in the original XCOM because as you say, either everything was fine and dandy until one too many of your guys dies, and then suddenly everyone starts panicking and it's a downward spiral from there.  And when your squad members do start to panic, you can't really do much about it.

I think that the morale system might be more interesting if its effects weren't so pronounced.  Like maybe a panicking soldier would not lose all of his TUs, but be impaired more slightly (like he is unable to run towards the aliens, he's unable to throw a grenade but can still shoot a gun, and so forth).

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Have you guys ever heard of Xcom2 "Grimmy's Morale Mod"?

His description kinda says it all: "We Darkest Dungeon Now"

It really takes the morale factor (i.e "Will") and enhances its importance. Not only now your troops will begin to fail when friends drop or things go south, but if the combat takes too long, they morale will wear out (even by enemy missed shots. Who likes to get shot, eh?) and become a real issue. Coupled with S.P.A.R.K.S that isn't affected by morale (And become THE most important troop in long engagements) and by rookies with low morale that will panick real damn quickly and sometimes you will have very interesting scenarios in your hand, and by interesting I mean "GOD DAMMIT ROOKIE, I WAS COUNTING ON YOU TO SAVE MY MAJOR!" and things of the sort.

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The model that all of these types of morale systems embody have some gameplay problems that readily explain why they are disliked, but if there were a way to design a better morale mechanic it would need to avoid the pitfalls.

-When you are winning you don't care about it, and when you are losing it makes things harder.

-A panicked soldier takes away the control from the player, probably also when you need it most.

-Another resource pool to manage.  Or, constantly draining the resource to put the player under time pressure is not fun.  Presumably I'm already losing resources as time goes on without an additional layer.

-Morale as an RPG mechanic (raise w/experience) doesn't make sense and also makes it so that you can still play a losing game for longer without any hope of catching up, as you can no longer hire and field an effective team.

In order for a morale mechanic to be an acceptable addition, it would need to be able to provide a benefit when you need it.  IRL, morale does not always work like a simple multiplier.  What if an officer could choose to boost stats for a short period of time on soldiers nearby, either once or periodically?  What of certain brave individuals who seem to become more fierce the worse the situation? 

Those are possibly some ideas.   But if it is implemented as discussed, it will not be fun and most likely one of the first things to get modded out.

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