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podbelski

Combat demo: first impression and thoughts about TU reserve

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Hi everyone,

 

I've tried the demo once and my first impression is I love it a lot! I see so much effort put into every piece of it, I really wish this game a success!

Right now I have just one concern, it's about the TU reserve feature. I've already made a post about it a few years ago at the X1 forum, to put it short:

I really doubt current system is useable b/c of two flaws:

1) you can't rely on it b/c sometimes you will be short by 1-2 TUs spent on turning after/during the movement

2) how can you reserve TUs for two shots? I don't see any ways...

 

My best suggestion is to change the approach: e.g. pressing Shift (or maybe a small switch on the screen) puts markers onto the move path showing how many shots of the active type can be done, plus the number of APs left:

tu_adv.jpg

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... I will be happy to see even the minimal implementation:

current "Ctrl-Shift" feature displays not just accuracy from chosen position, but also the number of possible shots of the chosen type plus the number of "excessive" TUs (left after you make those shots)!

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Glad you like it! Yeah, the TU reserve system really doesn't work that well unfortunately. It's only in the game because it was in the original X-Com, but right now the fact that turning costs TU means that it's very hard to use effectively.

I do actually have a solution to all this that I will likely test out in some experimental builds during the beta and Early Access period, but I suspect the changes will be too radical to make it into the final game. Basically it involves removing the TU reserve entirely, and setting all weapons to have set fire costs for fire modes - e.g. a Snap Shot always costs 20TU and an Aimed Shot always costs 40TU, no matter what weapon you are using. However not all weapons are capable of doing all the fire modes - you can't Aimed Shot with a shotgun, or Snap Shot with a sniper rifle.

You can then optionally remove the TU cost for rotation, which means you always know how many TU you need left for an action. Or you can keep the TU cost for rotation in and just do some simple maths.

This does mean however that you have to limit the TU gain of experienced soldiers heavily, otherwise they become far too strong as they can fire many more shots than inexperienced soldiers can. In that system you'd probably set it up so ALL soldiers have 100 TU per turn, but experienced ones gain benefits like reduced reload cost and increased accuracy and perhaps lower movement costs per tile etc.

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Would it be possible to have "Movement" points and "Action" points, where every healthy soldier has 100 AP (that can be used for actions or movement), and rookies have a handful of MP (which can be used to move and turn, but not attack or open doors or juggle inventory), while experienced soldiers have more MP but the same amount of AP?

The idea would be that with experience, soldiers can move around faster using less of their active attention, keeping their weapon ready to fire, while a less experienced soldier would have trouble firing on the move; and everyone can move further if they just carry their weapon rather than wield it.

It is often frustrating that we can't walk towards someone while firing a shotgun (think Sean Connery in The Untouchables) without getting fewer shots.

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On 6/22/2018 at 9:14 PM, Chris said:

TU reserve system... only in the game because it was in the original X-Com, but right now the fact that turning costs TU means that it's very hard to use effectively.

I do actually have a solution... removing the TU reserve entirely, and setting all weapons to have set fire costs for fire modes... can't Aimed Shot with a shotgun, or Snap Shot with a sniper rifle... ALL soldiers have 100 TU per turn, but experienced ones gain benefits like reduced reload cost and increased accuracy and perhaps lower movement costs per tile etc.

This sounds fantastic! If Xe1 only used TU reserve due to its focus on being a spiritual successor to X-COM, why not flex your creativity and do something new with Xe2?  I really hope the beta community supports it if it works well in practice.

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On 6/23/2018 at 9:34 PM, Decius said:

Would it be possible to have "Movement" points and "Action" points, where every healthy soldier has 100 AP (that can be used for actions or movement), and rookies have a handful of MP (which can be used to move and turn, but not attack or open doors or juggle inventory), while experienced soldiers have more MP but the same amount of AP?
 ...

It is often frustrating that we can't walk towards someone while firing a shotgun (think Sean Connery in The Untouchables) without getting fewer shots.

Seems like what you're saying is that there should be arm points (what you call action points) and leg points (movement points).  I've been mulling this over, trying to figure out how it would work without requiring the player to do two parallel sets of arithmetic for both movement and actions because it sounds like a neat idea and because I like your cinematic reference :p.

Introduction. Let's start with the simplest solution: every soldier gets as many arm points as he does leg points.  Say Mr. Connery starts with 60 points per turn, and that firing a shotgun takes 20 arm points and 0 leg points because he can fire while walking.  If he stood completely still while firing and reloading, then each shot would take 20 arm and 20 leg points.  And if he did something like shoot while still, but walk while reloading, then each shot would consume 20 arm points and 10 leg points.  Now, even if Connery can fire while moving, he is still not allowed to spend all of his arm points before he uses a single leg point.  The reason is because his arms and legs are bound in spacetime. In the director's cut where he spends all 60 arm points and THEN spends all 60 leg points, his upper body is hovering in place firing shots while his legs are walking down the hall to greet the mafioso with a swift kick to the crotch (sadly, this version of the film was never released).

Rules. Putting this all together we derive three rules. I'll go back to calling arm points as action points (AP) and leg points as movement points (MP).  Both AP and MP are expressed in time units (TU).

  1. Actions always consume AP, and they can also consume MP if the action would impair motion, but consumed MP <= consumed AP because the action encompasses the movement and not the other way around.
  2. At any point, AP <= MP.  AP can never exceed MP because this would mean that the soldier's upper body would be effectively lagging his feet.
  3. To perform an action, AP == MP.  This is the corollary of rule 2. If an action were to be performed when AP < MP, this would mean that the soldier's upper body would be jumping ahead in time before his legs could have caught up (or to put it correctlier, that he is performing the action at point A when his body is located at point B)

Example. Every soldier now has an AP bar located right under the MP bar.  Let's say a soldier starts out at full AP and MP.  He is ordered to move somewhere, and as he walks along, his AP and MP decrease in unison as per rule 2.  He sees an alien and takes a shot, which he is allowed to do because AP == MP as per rule 3.  He shoots a quick shot which misses, and some AP but no MP is consumed, so now AP < MP.  Now he runs to find cover, and as he does, his MP decreases.  He finds cover and lines up a second shot, but still, AP < MP because he didn't walk very far to find cover.  However, he wants to shoot from this position, so the game forces him to dump excess MP so that AP == MP, thereby allowing him to take the shot as per rule 3. This time, he takes a fully aimed shot that costs MP equal to AP (which is allowed as per rule 1).  The turn ends with his AP == MP (although it would have been legal to end his turn with AP < MP, because ending a turn is not an action).

Comments.

We have a third bar for action points in addition to those for hit and movement points. But I think it would be easy to get the feel of the action point system after a few battles because of how the time unit bars tick down in real time as the soldiers walk along.  However, because one turn's worth of time is scaled differently for each soldier according to his MP, that means a rifle shot is going to take proportionally more AP for a more experienced soldier, and we really didn't solve that problem.  So I don't know if it's worth the extra complication.

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Can we just try setting turn cost to zero and how that goes?  Changing everything in the TU system just to solve the turning problem sounds a little extreme to.  We don't even need to touch facing.  If free turning is enjoyable and intuitive then we can consider whether to push it further.

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On 6/27/2018 at 2:34 AM, Sheepy said:

Can we just try setting turn cost to zero and how that goes?  Changing everything in the TU system just to solve the turning problem sounds a little extreme to.  We don't even need to touch facing.  If free turning is enjoyable and intuitive then we can consider whether to push it further.

If turning has no penalty then the optimal way to move anywhere is to move one square, spin around, move another square, spin around, and so forth.  Which means you might as well not even have a view cone and just let soliders see in every direction like starcraft units.  Personally, I've never used the time unit reserve because it's more trouble than just doing simple arithmetic and even if it wasn't, I wouldn't find it useful.  I don't tell my units to walk in some general direction until they have just enough time for a shot; I want them to go to a specific point and if I know that they won't have enough TU to do what they want when they get there, then I come up with an alternate plan.

 

In my opinion, the TU reserve was really only necessary for XCOM and TFTD because there was no time unit preview function like there is in Xenonauts.  I think you could just get rid of the feature or at least not spend time worrying about it.

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3 hours ago, lemm said:

If turning has no penalty then the optimal way to move anywhere is to move one square, spin around, move another square, spin around, and so forth.

In theory yes. In reality, players will break up their move into parts but not grid by grid, like moving from window to window while on a corridor. For an experiment in free facing and/or free direction that does not sound too bad.  It will get harder and harder to test things out in later development stages.

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I think in the new XCOM that soldiers are aware of any enemy within visual range worked much better than having to turn and face at every corner like the original X-COM (and Xe1).

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Yeah, so as lemm correctly points out removing the turning cost would also lead to a removal of the soldier vision cone (although they'd probably retain it for overwatch fire) because otherwise the optimal play is to spin the soldier 360 degrees after every step.

In any case, these values are easy to change and I've already played a bit with a setup where there were no turn costs, units had 360 vision and fire modes had standardised costs - and it was pretty good. But that's something we'd need to do some heavy community testing around to see what the reaction is as it's a big change and it's not something we'll be making lightly.

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I rather enjoy the claustrofobic feeling that restricted vision cones give. It's not just a gameplay topic, but a fundamental thing that changes how the game feels.

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Maybe have the final step in line of movement cost an additional 1 TU, so the step-and-360spin technique would slow you down by up to 20%, equivalent to a more cautious trot than a blind sprint. 

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6 hours ago, Skitso said:

I rather enjoy the claustrofobic feeling that restricted vision cones give. It's not just a gameplay topic, but a fundamental thing that changes how the game feels.

Yeah I like the view cones too, but because they make the gameplay more complicated.

5 hours ago, Ninothree said:

Maybe have the final step in line of movement cost an additional 1 TU

I like that idea.  You could even take it a step further and make every (or every other) square after the first three cost one TU fewer, essentially granting the soldier a bonus for running a straight line over long distances.  It adds complexity without adding in separate movement modes.

 

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Here's my idea for a movement preview feature which is just an extension of what @podbelski said in the second post of the thread:

 

Player clicks on a soldier, hovers mouse over a distant square and presses Ctrl-Shift.  The UI will show the path the soldier will take to get there like it does in X1 and a little window will appear next to the target square showing all the actions that the soldier will have time for.  Now if the player CLICKS on one of these actions (while still holding down ctrl+shift), then the movement preview feature will deduct the number of TU that the selected action takes.  The player can then click on a second square and in so doing create a chain of actions.  This could all be represented by a phantom outline of the soldier moving along the planned route.

Essentially, this is just borrowing the turn planning mechanic from Frozen Synapse, but unlike Frozen Synapse, you're never committed to keeping the full plan for the entire turn.  If the soldier spots an alien while he's walking to his destination, then the player can just abandon the plan and take some other action.  This is just a feature to help the player better plan his moves, and it doesn't need to be used at all if the player doesn't hold down Ctrl+Shift (and in actual fact, it would probably only be used in hairy situations and not for hurrying all your soldiers across empty ground to get the last alien).

Regardless, I think that a flexible movement preview function like this is more useful than an XCOM-style TU reserve button because the player can throw in turning, crouching, or whatever he wants, which is something you can't really do with a TU reserve button.

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I like plotting nodes on move path as well, allows soldiers to do a big move while passing several cover points without having to stop and start (especially if you're going to use @Ninothree's idea, which I think is great btw).  Soldiers could have cones of varying size while moving at different speeds, but when they stop it returns to 360 degree.  Or maybe there's an action you can click on that lets them scan (rather than right clicking a few times)?

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Why not just having the reserve TUs thing reserve enough to shoot+3 or whatever gives you enough TUs to turn to the edge of your vision?

Or as long as you had enough time to use reaction fire without turning, still do it but lower accuracy? Like lets say your rifle takes 20TUs to shoot but you only have 19 after turning. Maybe use reaction fire anyways but only have a 20% chance to hit instead of 25%. And if you have 17 TUs left over drop it to 10%. Or whatever percent, the numbers can be played around with of course.

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I am totally against 360 degree vision. It could be a cool and practical solution but it destroys the sneaky ai. If you see everywhere, enemy cannot get position to attack you behind and for melee enemies it becomes much worse. 

As people said, just add some more tu cost to reserve. I never used reserve in my life because at xcom games I did not see any single reaction shot kills an alien at mid range. If you want to go defensive, you already move slowly or take positions with much more tu. 

Tbh I am against to see the hit chance before your soldier gets that position. Because it makes the game a real chess. It makes the game much easier. I can put my soldier to the perfect position at every time without error. I think this should be only avail be for a high-tech armor maybe. 

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I do play UFO clones including X1 like chess. That is how I enjoy tactic games.

From my point of view, if I want the suspension of stealth, I play a game that better supports it. X1 does not have enough features to make stealth interesting; even UFO and XCOM2 do them better in different ways. And X2 does not seem to make any breakthrough in that regards, and there are a lot to be gained from discarding turning cost.

I propose that X2 make them a custom difficulty setting like Invisible Inc.  You want chess you turn off vision cone and turn on LoF preview.  You want old school you enable cone (with manual turning TU reserve) and disable LoF.  Both camps happy.

 

Edited by Sheepy

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I think that this links into a concept one of the developers talking about, the idea of reducing UI bit by bit. For the experienced (or daring) player you wouldn't need anything. Just the map, the units and the cursor. No health bars, no accuracy indicator - just the cursor and some choice hotkeys to control everything, and a whole lot of guesswork to know what is going on.

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2 hours ago, Ninothree said:

I think that this links into a concept one of the developers talking about, the idea of reducing UI bit by bit. For the experienced (or daring) player you wouldn't need anything. Just the map, the units and the cursor. No health bars, no accuracy indicator - just the cursor and some choice hotkeys to control everything, and a whole lot of guesswork to know what is going on.

I like to have the info but from the position of my soldiers. I would like to see my TU point where i move. I would like to see my hit chances.. but if i see all the info for every possible position, then i just choose the best without any regnet. I don't want to see the HP of the enemy but would like to see it take damage or not..

But they all could be as options of course..

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