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Drakon

Why so Serious?

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I've been been an advocate for a more realistic and grittier version of Xenonauts 2 than what some others on this forum believe to be optimal, and realizing this, i started to ask myself ... why exactly? Is more realistic and more gritty intrinsically better? No. More realistic generally is, as it helps with issues like relatability or immersion, but there are some great games out there that care little to not at all about being realistic - Tetris comes to mind as an obvious example.

A game like Xenonauts 2 is not a reflex based game, like a twitch shooter or some console game waving around lightsabers at shiny bits. It is not a game of social organisation like a MOBA or getting a guild to work in a MMORPG. It can be a game about exploring a story and consequences of choices, like the classical Telltale games. It definitely is a game for people who like reading text and numbers and solving strategic/tactic puzzles.

Ultimately, this is a game about a war. Xenonauts 1 was a war between two nation like societies, with taxes and armies and fairly clearly defined battlefields, and Xenonauts 2 is intended to more closely mimic the modern assymetric wars that are beginning to be the norm with a small group trying to do what they can while having to avoid open battle, utilizing abductions and assassinations and the like. So where can this game go? I basically see two options: either leaning towards a realistic, potentially harrowing, or instead towards a super-hero-esque power fantasy. People here know which direction i prefer, but don't get me wrong: i do not think that a power fantasy is bad at all. There are solid reasons why films like Rambo 2 are more popular amongst children coming from war zones than a film like the first John Rambo, which shows the protagonist disempowered, traumatized, and forced back into a warrior personality he had hoped to leave behind.

Still, i asked myself: why would i prefer the more harrowing version? I think i can safely say i have more experience with horror and violence than the average of those who frequent this forum ... so why go back to that place after i finally left it behind? Analyzing that, i realized that a large reason for that is that a game pandering to power fantasies is so far removed from the reality i perceive that it feels bland, disconnected and unrelatable. The reality i know is not one where all soldiers in a company will survive, excluding the token black guy who will die as inspiration to the rest of the troops. It is not one where if you just try hard enough and believe in yourself enough you can overcome any odds. Instead, my reality is one where sometimes your best just isn't enough, and sometimes you have to make hard decisions and live for the rest of your life with the choices you made, and the consequences of your actions.
I know some people think that we should rather tell stories that propagate these lies rather than face reality and be disheartened, but i do wonder if doing so does not actually cause way more harm than good. Because reality does catch up eventually, and it seems obvious that one of the evolutionary purposes of games includes preparing us for real challenges.

Still, there are probably way more 11-14 year old kids out there that love power fantasies than there are people like me ... so why not rather have the game pander to the power fantasy? My answer would be that a game like that is already out there with Firaxis X-Com. When i played Firaxiscom i felt mostly bored, detatched from the conflict. Humans are the most amazing beings in the universe, easily capable of defeating psionic-wielding superminds, out-tech ancient races that had aeons to advance science to it's peak and stomp on warrior races genetically engineered for their purpose, and ultimately, OF COURSE the humans are the very key that the aliens have looked for so long.
On the flip side, the intro screen from Xenonauts 1 immediately drew me in. A number of older military commanders look at you with facial expressions ranging from doubt to slight disdain, as if to tell you: "We've given you a lot of money and hardware, and a lot of good men. We all advised against it, but our governments ordered us to. Do not disappoint us!" And the game continues to tell us that we are nothing special at all, just another world to be conquered and added to a giant empire spanning multiple galaxies. If anything is to make us special, it is our choices and actions as a player that are to set us apart.
The two moments that got the biggest emotional response out of me were quite minor sidenotes in the game. With stun guns and gas grenades i captured multiple Sebillians alive in an early mission to advance my research. The post mission run down made me pause for a short time.
 1   Scout Data Core .................. Sent to research division
 6   Alenium .............................. Sent to storage
12   Alien Alloys ........................ Sent to storage
 4   Sebillian Corpses ................. Destroyed
 1   Sebillian Non-Combatant ...... Sent to research division
 3   Sebillian Non-Combatants ..... Executed
I sat in silence after reading that last line. I understood why we did it, but we were murdering civilians. This gets even worse when you learn that these beings were actually forced into slavery and combat service, and we probably just wrecked our chances at a potential diplomatic solution. Are we really the good guys?
The second happened when i looked at the research files, and found that the researches for the alien species are actually titled "vivisections".

If i remember correctly it was the great author Isaac Asimov who wrote that science fiction is not about the technical advancements - the lightswords, lasercannons, jetpacks or teleporters - but what how we interact with the introduction of these new technologies reveals about us humans. While i do not think that it should be every game's purpose to do this, i do maintain that it is good to have games that give us pause, make us think, challenge our moral assumptions and our perception of the world. Reflex or coordination based games are unsuitable for this, games centered around social interaction would be an interesting option yet i've never seen it done in any, but games focused around story are definitely most suited for this. I personally maintain that a strategy game like Xenonauts might in many aspects be even better at this than pick your poison games like the Tell-Tale games or those from Quantic Dreams, because i believe that implications created through game mechanics resonate far stronger than these very obvious choices.
A good example in my eyes would be to compare Prison Architect to the recent game Detroit. In Detroit you have the choice to either push some buttons to disobey your orders or not to, in Prison Architect due to the game mechanics you just end up making more money by constructing tight housing for prisoners than by focusing on optimizing their recidivism rate, mimicing a real life fact.
Imagine that you had the option to work for criminal syndicates to up your budget in Xenonauts 2. Would you do it? How much would they need to offer? At what type of missions would you draw the line? How bad would the war against the aliens need to go for you to reconsider? If one of your agents was about to defect with information to the aliens because they are disgusted with your cooperation with organized crime, would you let the crime lords kidnap his family to stop him, or would you accept that some of your agents in the field will be killed because of the information this man will leak?

The X-Com developed by Firaxis is a game from a huge company, developed on a hefty budget with shareholders expecting optimized returns, so naturally it will pander to the biggest crowd and try to go for as instant gratification as possible, no matter how shallow it may be. So why should Xenonauts or Xenonauts 2 be any different? Because it can. Creating a product for a more niche audience is a good business decision for a smaller competitor, and Goldhawk can afford to ask the questions that Firaxis wouldn't dare to touch. If Goldhawk won't create an adult, uncomfortable, complicated, ethically challenging and thought inspiring X-Com successor, then my question is: who will?

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Curse you, Drakon, my time was intended for answering the Real-time Geoscape thread, not your philosophical post, but you got me hooked here.

I am very much on your side here. I also hope for a realistic, gritty game, even more so than the first Xenonauts was (though I liked its sober representation of what happened. Like the nuke on Terror Sites you could not handle, killing countless civilians). When I read about your super hero fantasy I immediately thought "Firaxis XCOM" even before you mentioned it. That's exactly the point. XCOM had so much potential, but in my opinion it wasted most of it for cool special abilities, effects and heroic pseudo-narrative, and with XCOM 2 and its Add-On they absolutely went down that rabbit hole.

That said, I frankly do not expect Xenonauts 2 to be realistic. The whole premise of an alien invasion on earth is just so far from realistic that you can never build a realistic narrative on that. But what I want is a consequential world, following its own intrinsic logic. Xeno 1 did this in some aspects (like bleeding out of funds when neglecting countries), but not in others (the cold war it was set in was not really present just to mention one). From what I have read about how Xeno 2 is meant to be, I have doubts that Goldhawk are able or willing to really pull this through. And I don't really blame them; I know they are a small team and can't put weeks into features that are just there to fit the narrative. Plus, as a game designer you can't always sacrifice central game mechanisms for the sake of the integrity of the world you are building. For example, I'd love to see the bravery aspect of Xenonauts expanded into a full-blown psychology system with soldiers getting stressed out by the lovecraftian nature of the aliens, by comrades they lose or by civilians they accidentally (or even deliberately) kill, along with all the short and long term symptoms we know from wars like freezing in horror, stress induced blindness, uncontrolled violence, drug addictions, PTSD and so on. But I know this would likely take the game too far in a direction it is not meant to go. Soldiers, in the end, are your main tools to beat the game in tactical ground combat, and as such there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

On the other hand I sometimes fail to see the benefit in systems Goldhawk propose that clearly do go against the narrative they want to create. One example for that would be the recently proposed ground interception teams consisting of soldiers to balance the fact that you only have one main base and the flight time might be too high. Instead of just tweaking the flight time so that we can theoretically reach everywhere in time, we will now split our small force prophylactically into even smaller teams, give them military grade weaponry and send them out into countries all around the world, while our operation is meant to stay covert, and a global crisis which we aim to prevent is smouldering, threatening to become explosive at any time. And we expect these countries with our soldiers in them not to react to unidentified, heavily armed combatants in their borders, and the lurking aliens to never find them even with their advanced technology. There are more aspects like this, but for the sake of brevity, and since everything could still change, I'll stop there.

As for the hard decisions you mention, that would be awesome to see, but hard to implement, as Goldhawk is not a company that can afford to deliver a product you will only see a small portion of when playing once. Hardly any modern game ever takes that branching narrative approach and is successful with it. The Witcher 2 comes to my mind, but I can't think of any game like this in the tactics or strategy corner.

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3 hours ago, Drakon said:

I've been been an advocate for a more realistic and grittier version of Xenonauts 2 than what some others on this forum believe to be optimal, and realizing this, i started to ask myself ... why exactly? Is more realistic and more gritty intrinsically better? No. More realistic generally is, as it helps with issues like relatability or immersion, but there are some great games out there that care little to not at all about being realistic - Tetris comes to mind as an obvious example.

<snip>

Ultimately, this is a game about a war. Xenonauts 1 was a war between two nation like societies, with taxes and armies and fairly clearly defined battlefields, and Xenonauts 2 is intended to more closely mimic the modern assymetric wars that are beginning to be the norm with a small group trying to do what they can while having to avoid open battle, utilizing abductions and assassinations and the like. So where can this game go? I basically see two options: either leaning towards a realistic, potentially harrowing, or instead towards a super-hero-esque power fantasy. People here know which direction i prefer, but don't get me wrong: i do not think that a power fantasy is bad at all. There are solid reasons why films like Rambo 2 are more popular amongst children coming from war zones than a film like the first John Rambo, which shows the protagonist disempowered, traumatized, and forced back into a warrior personality he had hoped to leave behind.

<snip>

The X-Com developed by Firaxis is a game from a huge company, developed on a hefty budget with shareholders expecting optimized returns, so naturally it will pander to the biggest crowd and try to go for as instant gratification as possible, no matter how shallow it may be. So why should Xenonauts or Xenonauts 2 be any different? Because it can. Creating a product for a more niche audience is a good business decision for a smaller competitor, and Goldhawk can afford to ask the questions that Firaxis wouldn't dare to touch. If Goldhawk won't create an adult, uncomfortable, complicated, ethically challenging and thought inspiring X-Com successor, then my question is: who will?

Whilst I do broadly agree with the sentiments in your post, most of the stuff you've mentioned are just very small details that imply the world in which the game is set has some internal consistency, and where occasionally the world isn't perfect. This was implied in Xenonauts; indeed the reason why I wrote the Chief Scientist the way I did was because I didn't necessarily want another "invisible" PG13 character who is generically heroic and good-natured and competent like all the characters in XCOM are (although of course it's fine to write your characters that way if you want to emphasize other parts of the game instead).

Reading your post, I actually think you have the motivations for the changes in X2 backwards. The setting of Xenonauts-2 is actually informed by the mechanics of Xenonauts 1 - why is there only one major organisation taking on the aliens and capable of saving the world? Why are they only putting 8-16 badly-armed soldiers on the ground, when most armies can field tens of thousands of troops with air support and artillery backup? Etc.

The key thing is that we don't need to change up the game mechanics to fit the new setting of asymmetric warfare; we've changed the setting to fit the mechanics we already have - e.g. you'll have similar numbers of soldiers in X2 as you did in X1, we've just made an effort to explain why you have so few this time. Which is sort of what you're talking about, I think.

 

1 hour ago, Dagar said:

<snip>

On the other hand I sometimes fail to see the benefit in systems Goldhawk propose that clearly do go against the narrative they want to create. One example for that would be the recently proposed ground interception teams consisting of soldiers to balance the fact that you only have one main base and the flight time might be too high. Instead of just tweaking the flight time so that we can theoretically reach everywhere in time, we will now split our small force prophylactically into even smaller teams, give them military grade weaponry and send them out into countries all around the world, while our operation is meant to stay covert, and a global crisis which we aim to prevent is smouldering, threatening to become explosive at any time. And we expect these countries with our soldiers in them not to react to unidentified, heavily armed combatants in their borders, and the lurking aliens to never find them even with their advanced technology. There are more aspects like this, but for the sake of brevity, and since everything could still change, I'll stop there.

As for the hard decisions you mention, that would be awesome to see, but hard to implement, as Goldhawk is not a company that can afford to deliver a product you will only see a small portion of when playing once. Hardly any modern game ever takes that branching narrative approach and is successful with it. The Witcher 2 comes to my mind, but I can't think of any game like this in the tactics or strategy corner.

Indeed, you're correct in much of what you say about realism in the game. We're not aiming to make a realistic game but we do try our best to make the game as logically consistent as we can within those bounds. There's also no chance we're going to be making a narratively branching game etc (although I don't think Drakon was suggesting that); ultimately this is a strategy game and if the setting is getting in the way of creating the X-Com game we want to make then the game mechanics will win out. 

You've misunderstood what the ground teams do and the problem they are intended to solve, though. It's nothing to do with dropship range at all - just means that the Field Agents have to physically move to their various missions on the Geoscape, rather than being placed in an abstracted "Agent Slot" for a region and not appearing on the map. If you're confused I suggest you read the post again; that part of the post was talking about why we might consider moving back to X1 style top-down bases.

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2 hours ago, Dagar said:

XCOM had so much potential, but in my opinion it wasted most of it for cool special abilities, effects and heroic pseudo-narrative, and with XCOM 2 and its Add-On they absolutely went down that rabbit hole.

I actually feel slightly different about this. To go for a power fantasy rather than a more instrospective, thought provoking alternative was a design decision, not a design error (though Firaxiscom has enough of those as well). It even goes a step further.

Actual organisations involved in assymetric warfare are pretty much always involved in drug rings, human trafficking or extortion to fund their war efforts. That isn't necessarily because they are the most abhorrent human beings you can find, but rather because these fields offer some of the highest revenue margin, and fighting a nation state costs A LOT of money. Remember back when critics found out that in a GTA game if you modified the game files you could spend some nude quality alone time with your girlfriend and a lot of the US press completely freaked out over it? Well, imagine those same journalists found out that in X-Com 2 the most efficient way to appropriate funds was to help a criminal organisation set up a human trafficking ring for forced prostitution, utilizing either heroin or crack to keep the victims from running away.

It doesn't even matter whether Firaxis wants to delve into deeper topics of warfare, they can't. They cannot afford to. For Goldhawk Studios on the other hand a public press outcry about their game would probably be a net win: they'd basically get a lot of free advertisment time, and a lot of people would pick up the game for themselves to figure out how much of the press gossip is actually true.

And i admittedly do blame Hollywood in part for some of the things like the US loss in the second Gulf war. The public demanded that the forces secure victory without significant losses, without civilian casualties, and it really shouldn't cost too much. Heinlein would have said: the public demanded the welcome impossible and got the very unwelcome possible instead. But a lot of these people didn't think and reflect, they were just so used to that a small group of rogueish heroes can overcome any odds if they just believe in themselves, since they saw that in movies all the time, that when casualty lists started pouring in and news of killed civillians came out, there was a public outcry and even worse strategic decisions were made.

I'm not a game elitist. There needs to be place for a game like Candy Crush or Hearthstone or League of Legends or Firaxiscom. But there also needs to be space for an X-Com successor that takes you to uncomfortable places and makes you think ... and the original X-Com was not a game that you played and felt safe and comfortable with.

 

2 hours ago, Dagar said:

The whole premise of an alien invasion on earth is just so far from realistic that you can never build a realistic narrative on that.

There are a number of hard SF stories that start with a very unrealistic premise. The Salvation War comes to mind: YHWH has forsaken humanity, the armies of hell come to invade Earth and find out we changed the rules of warfare a bit in the last 150 years. Quite a good read in my opinion. But having dabbled in robotics, i'd say that most of Isaac Asimov's work could be considered to be in the same category: his entire concept of "Positronic Brains" has no basis in actual science at all.

 

2 hours ago, Dagar said:

From what I have read about how Xeno 2 is meant to be, I have doubts that Goldhawk are able or willing to really pull this through. And I don't really blame them; I know they are a small team and can't put weeks into features that are just there to fit the narrative.

Willing is one thing, but a lot of this wouldn't even cost that much. There already needs to be a function like displayPopupMessage to alert players to research being complete and the like, so expanding that slightly wouldn't take too much work. Hiring three more writers for three months also shouldn't make too much of a dent into production costs. Basically, all of that would probably cost about as much as implementing jetpacks.

 

3 hours ago, Dagar said:

Hardly any modern game ever takes that branching narrative approach and is successful with it. The Witcher 2 comes to my mind, but I can't think of any game like this in the tactics or strategy corner.

I am not entirely sure if we are talking of the same thing, but an example that would come to mind for me would be The Last Federation. I haven't had much time to play games recently, but i'm pretty sure several of the newer 4x type games would also go in the same direction. Having events happen in game and having those events influence other events in the future (without necessarily explicit story branches) would seem fairly common to me.

 

3 hours ago, Dagar said:

we will now split our small force prophylactically into even smaller teams, give them military grade weaponry and send them out into countries all around the world, while our operation is meant to stay covert, and a global crisis which we aim to prevent is smouldering, threatening to become explosive at any time. And we expect these countries with our soldiers in them not to react to unidentified, heavily armed combatants in their borders, and the lurking aliens to never find them even with their advanced technology.

Yeah, that actually is more along what i would like to see considered. Just get a military advisor and ask him: "In this scenario, what would actually happen and how would the different organisations react?" Sure, there are some cases where you need to deviate from a realistic response of the world to make the game more enjoyable, but by and large i'd think that would yield a much more relatable and realistic world to play in.

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7 hours ago, Chris said:

Which is sort of what you're talking about, I think.

In part, yes. What i wrote was, i think, initially primarily created as an attempt for myself to understand why i am taking the stances that i take, and to put them up for discussion, so that they can be torn apart if i am wrong. Internal logical consistency is in my opinion a key quality for pretty much any thing created by man, including video games. At any point in a book or movie or game when i start thinking: "This is nonsense, why didn't they just ..." it throws me off and makes me like it less, whereas whenever i see something well executed or even a practical idea i myself didn't come up with i feel delight and get immersed more. But beyond that i feel that looking at things realistically gives us perspectives we elsewhise wouldn't have had. Wondering pragmatically how robots bound by the laws of Asimov can allow humans to work in dangerous environments like space give us one of his great short stories. Thinking about the technical limitations of near lightspeed travel gives us the exploration of society through time in Haldeman's Forever War. X-Com, Firaxiscom and Xenonauts are all works of science fiction (with a bit more or less science in it), and there are very different ways of approaching that. The original X-Com was somewhere between pulp and horror, Firaxiscom closer to a Hollywood interpretation of nigh-superheroes. What if Xenonauts went the way of great classical science fiction authors like H.G.Wells, making us look on our own society and the preconceptions that we hold? In Xenonauts 2 the player is in charge of what by and large would be categorized as a terror organisation by most super powers in the world right now. It could ask the very uncomfortable question of whether drug trafficking can ever be considered ethically or morally permissible, if the alternative is that your entire group of people - in the Xenonauts case the humans - will be enslaved. If not doing so will lead to some of your subordinates being tortured by your enemies, can it ever be forgiven to agree in helping an organisation that exploits forced prostitution? Through action or inaction, you consign feeling individuals to hell. Can sacrificing a smaller number of individuals for the good of the many be forgiven? As a military commander, isn't that the very definition of your task?
And i do not see asking these questions just as a means to get a quick emotional response out of the player, but would hope that if done well they might inspire thought and discussion similar to how Prison Architect did.

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Darker, grittier, more emotive (to the tune of Radiohead's - Fitter Happier). 

The case has been made a fair amount that goldhawk should plumb for the niche that firaxis have avoided. I think that they are always going to do that - except when it comes to reinventing the wheel. The argument has also been passed around about realism and setting, as stated above, the ultimate bind is to the current underlying gameplay - everything else can shift to accommodate that. Honestly, I think firaxis really hit the nail on the head with their guerrilla warfare adaptation, that explains the use of just a dozen soldiers, although god-like homegrown guerrilla soldiers is a bit ridiculous. Obviously, it is hard to say if X2 will deliver a satisfying explanation just yet. Whilst I like the idea of the Xenonauts as an organisation dabbling in darker means to achieve their ends, I do wonder how much that needs to be part of gameplay and how much of it can be relegated to the storytelling. I'd suggest compiling some of these ideas to write into the game when it comes out. The expanded xenopedia mod was a great success as far as I'm aware - I imagine a grittier story mod could perform equally well, and it could be written really dark if it doesn't have to pass the requirements of getting into the vanilla game (which may be played by those hapless 11 to 14 year olds, of whom I was one playing classic xcom).

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Raiding organisations and selling psyclone was a great fund-raising tool in X-COM Apocalypse.  Even the Cult of Sirius raid loot would contain some, you didn't even have to target the crims directly.

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On 6/20/2018 at 11:57 AM, Drakon said:

What if Xenonauts went the way of great classical science fiction authors like H.G.Wells, making us look on our own society and the preconceptions that we hold? In Xenonauts 2 the player is in charge of what by and large would be categorized as a terror organisation by most super powers in the world right now. It could ask the very uncomfortable question of whether drug trafficking can ever be considered ethically or morally permissible, if the alternative is that your entire group of people - in the Xenonauts case the humans - will be enslaved. If not doing so will lead to some of your subordinates being tortured by your enemies, can it ever be forgiven to agree in helping an organisation that exploits forced prostitution? Through action or inaction, you consign feeling individuals to hell. Can sacrificing a smaller number of individuals for the good of the many be forgiven? As a military commander, isn't that the very definition of your task?

I would love to play a game that would force me to think of the issues you raise. I wish these questions weren't just in textbooks or magazines but in the movies we watch and the games we play. It would provoke some deeper thought, and uneasiness. The last game I played that had an echo of what you write about was Neverwinter Nights. I remember that game would do stuff like put suffering civilians in your path, making you feel duty bound to assist them, potentially sacrificing your own objectives on your own quests, and then give you the option to demand or request payment in return after the assistance was rendered. I would generally ask for something in return for the aid, gear in the game is expensive, you have to pay for stuff. If you wanted too, you could play the game like a savage and steal/kill from everyone you came across. If Xenonauts 2 made me ponder hard choices like turning to crime in order to fund a war, or gain some advantage, I would remember it forever, such games are very rare. 

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Did you ever play Fable? That game was built around choosing to be good/bad but the choices ended up feeling tiresome. They were never really that deep or thought provoking. That always seems to be the pitfall, that choices seem too obvious, e.g. kill/save the civilian. Even if the choices are less transparent, I find myself disappointed by how little those choices impact the game - kill em, don't kill em, what is the difference in the end.

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No I didn't, but I did hear alot about it. I think the obviousness of it depends on the context. For example in Neverwinter nights one question was to what extent does the player let economic need drive morality? Life in the city of Neverwinter and its surrounding environs is expensive and dangerous. Good equipment and specialised gear is essential to win in battle. Now if you want to help people along the way, is it right to ask for compensation in return for that aid, and if they refuse citing poverty, demand it? If you're playing as a Paladin, which is what I would generally start out as, your moral alignment requires that you serve the community, even if it costs you the things you need to do that to the best of your ability. Sometimes the scenarios given could be quite nuanced. Or at least that's how I remember it. I haven't played that game for over a decade. 

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On 6/25/2018 at 7:48 PM, Ninothree said:

Did you ever play Fable? That game was built around choosing to be good/bad but the choices ended up feeling tiresome. They were never really that deep or thought provoking. That always seems to be the pitfall, that choices seem too obvious, e.g. kill/save the civilian.

There certainly are a lot of games that do this wrong, but there are also some that manage to pull it off. Again, i'd like to point to Prison Architect as an example that also manages to not attempt to bludgeon you over the head with a binary morality. In one of the Fallout games you run into a slaver who is using the resources of his "trade" to research a cure for an epidemic that is causing great suffering in the region - with the option of either helping him or disposing of him and freeing the slaves. I've also heard that there are several ethically complicated quests in the Witcher series ... i have the games sitting at home, just cannot find the time to play them. If you want one that will really weird you out, try Sunless Sea.

As an industry, we actually even know reasonably well how to do a game like that well - but that requires us to avoid the binary "good versus evil" morality, and especially large US game developers are very unlikely to do that.

On 6/25/2018 at 7:48 PM, Ninothree said:

Even if the choices are less transparent, I find myself disappointed by how little those choices impact the game - kill em, don't kill em, what is the difference in the end.

You just made the perfect point on why including this as just a wikipedia style information mod is a sub-par option. I personally was a little miffed that you were basically forced to wipe out humanity at the end of Xenonauts 1 ... i'm not so sure if people would appreciate it if the Xenonauts organisation just goes ahead with these highly ethically questionable options without the player having any say in it. If global events are moddable in the final version of Xenonauts 2 it might be a project worth looking into, since there probably will be simple choices like "Dispatch Agent for Z days to gain XXXX $ or Do Nothing".

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On 6/28/2018 at 12:24 PM, Drakon said:

just a wikipedia style information mod is a sub-par option

I can appreciate this sentiment, but I think you're underplaying its value - especially given that you also mention the ending of the game, which is predominantly given through the wikipedia style messages. I mean, how hard would it be to radically change how that final mission felt if it were contextualised in a different story. Fortunately, it looks as though a mod for the sequel could quite easily reach further, with geoscape situations and covert actions. So the context delivered by the xenopedia can be bolstered and made more interactive with those events. I guess what I'm saying is that the fundamental mechanics of the game don't need to change - ground combat can remain a shooting skirmish, the strategy layer can remain as base building / UFO fighting - but the whole feel of the game can be made as gritty as desired by altering the right elements of text. Even if you wanted to invoke some criminal or underground aspects, there is still scope to play around with mechanics like the buying and selling of storage items: a mod could add extra features like selling captured aliens as slaves, or becoming an ethically-dubious weapons manufacturer.

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