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Xenonauts-2 Air Combat Prototype & Effects on Strategy Layer

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On 8/5/2018 at 10:51 PM, Ruggerman said:

If you are going to be limited each player to only a couple of air bases, then could we have small range missile bases, so as to provide some defense to the other areas on the globe, and also be able to bring the fight to the UFO's.

Hope that we will be able, within the scope of the game, and time to put up a global defense of our Earth!!

Really like the idea of a small air defence base setup, would be pretty cool to be able to stick some sam sites around an area if you cant really cover it with other more expensive bases.

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On 8/9/2018 at 6:44 AM, drages said:

I hate card games. It will break realistic tactical engagement. You got a plane with machine-gun and torpedoes but you should attack with machine-gun because you got only that card for now.. 

Just big no.. Give me something tactical or make it something just watch like a soccer manager game maybe with some option.. 

There doesn't need to be any random card drawing. After all, getting random weapons in the middle of the battle would make no sense. Only weather conditions may be randomized to some extent.

Thus, there would be no core mechanic of card games. Those card games would be just an inspiration. According to my idea there would be no more than three power levels increasing with every turn, a choosing of equipment and phases of the battle when a player would be able to use different "abilities". And a pool of those abilities would be chosen before launching aircraft.

Do you notice something wrong with that idea in particular?

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When you try to make an XCOM Air Game, we always imagine that, we are hunting ufos. At original xcom, the ufo is always in front of us and we are engaging it. At other xcom games with minigames, it's always so.. Here at Chris turn based idea, again it's the same. BUT this is wrong. Because UFO's would choose to attack to our aircrafts when they detect us. There is no reason to run when you are highly advanced and mostly big sized UFO. For this reason, there is no answer how to solve this problem..

At Xe-1, it comes with the solution, because at battlefield every body can attack to anyone.. so UFO's want to destroy our planes rather then tring to escape.. every concept works there like escorts.. I think it was the best solution for genre. So what was the problem? Even it was so cool, people autoplay it sooner or later. AND i think that, even you create much more awesome air game, it will be autoplayed again.. there is some reasons about that.. people don't want to play that kind of game because they are here to play soldier/tactical game mostly and playing the same game for 10 times per wave would be boring after some point..

So realtime, turn based, card game or not.. it will be end up with autoplayed. We need something very compact and very fast one, with some reason to play it manually. So what can i say about it;

1. There should be plane types. Fighter, Bomber (Torpedo launcher), Fighter-Bomber, Big ones (like ufos, if possible).. you will make squadrons from those types.. 3 or 5 up to the game..

2. You will order your planes to attack to which ufo and how. Fighter 1 to Escort 1 with med to short range- Bomber to main UFO with long range blabla..

3. When fight began, you will see who engaged who. Like the Chris new game design. You won't control anything, just watch. The game will look like a board game. You will see the weapon attacks and damages at another screen like a manager game. Fighter 1 hit Escort 1 with rocket for 2 damage. 

4. You will able to change the commands when the plane is available. So fighter and escort starts to fight and if fighter wins it will be green and you can stop the game and give another order. You can have some limited emergency commands in battle too so you can break and attack and change it.

5. Pilots can have special traits like dodging enemy fire, able to get command at mid fight, more hit chance..

I think this could create a tactical air game which is fast enough and got good options. I say that, we should have not have a direct control of it. A squadron always controlled by wing commander at air. As a commander you just send them and tell them what your plan is. Executing is not your job. 

@Ravn7 i just don't want to have a deck at my xcom game. I don't want to have random events to choose from. Choosing something from random possibilities, is ultra unrealistic for me.. it kills all the immersion. I hate to use cards at a realistic game for that reason.. i cannot bring them together.. it's me :)..

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Posted (edited)

Anyone recommending they add some sort of contrived ridiculous card game to X2 should be banned from the forums.  Seriously, that would be suicide for X2.  I know exactly the sort of system you are referring to, and no, it would not make a good addition to X2 no matter how you spin it.  This isn't that type of game.

Edited by endersblade

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While I agree that card game air combat is straying a bit too off, I think the real problem is that air combat is stuck in a awkward middle ground, complicated enough to be a mini-game but not enough to be a must-keep core experience.

To be honest I see no problem in keeping X1 air combat.  Reduce number of engagements and add more abilities / maneuvers can both be done without changing the system.

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2 hours ago, Sheepy said:

While I agree that card game air combat is straying a bit too off, I think the real problem is that air combat is stuck in a awkward middle ground, complicated enough to be a mini-game but not enough to be a must-keep core experience.

To be honest I see no problem in keeping X1 air combat.  Reduce number of engagements and add more abilities / maneuvers can both be done without changing the system.

The problem is, the old air game is about more action then strategy. They are people who can play it like a god or who loses much more then autoplay. If you can play it well, you got a huge advantage but if you fail and use autoplay, you just play it as it should be. A little wrong manuever would make you lose everything. This is a difficulty strike. Even the game is very difficult, a pro air gamer can make it easy. As the game purpose is not to test someones realtime air manuever skill, you lose game balance here.

As i said, Xe-1 air game is perfect for realism and type for air game. But it's more then an Xcom fan as a strategist player can handle. Maybe you don't feel it at the base game but when you start to mod it and creates some difficulties and more detailed weapons/engagements, it becomes so hard for many players and still easy who can handle them.

As you said, i want to have more skills and more on that air game but i fear about the audience. Some people dont want to learn something they dont like. It's like to add a shot-em-up to a tactical game.

BUT at the end, if there is no better option found, i would like to have same game rather then worse one. 

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Oh dear - I knew if I started reading things I'd start having opinions, too.  Never mind.

I think I have similar concerns to a lot of others here: that in the end the mini-game will become redundant as the correct solution to it will be found which then just needs repeating.  But I'm struggling to think how you avoid that, without making it overly complex.

Some thoughts about the idea as it stands though:

1) I'd strongly encourage hit chances with set damage, over automatic hits with damage ranges.  Unless you have very wide damage ranges, the system fairly predictable, exacerbating the issue of find a solution to any given combat situation.  With random hit rolls, it creates scope for less expected outcomes, which might require the players to be more adaptable when things don't go as they hope.

2) I'd also consider telegraphing UFO actions on the player's turn, i.e. signalling what the UFO will do so they player can plan around it.  On the one hand, you might feel that exacerbates the problem of "solving" the combats because it provides the information the player needs to make the best choice.  But I'd argue that it actually creates more space for decision making by giving you clear sets of options.

For example, say a UFO can make two attacks on its turn, and could either target both against the same aircraft or split attacks between two.  On this turn, the UFO has decided to attack one of my aircraft twice.  If I know this, I'm faced with a decision: do I retreat that aircraft to minimise the damage it will take, or do I hold/advance with it and risk the higher damage/destruction of the aircraft in exchange for a higher damage payoff beforehand.  I can make that decision independent of my other aircraft (which I might choose to advance with, taking advantage of the fact that they're not under attack, or I might not so they're not trapped at close range for next turn when the UFO might then attack them instead).

If I don't know what the UFO is going to do, however, I can't take actions with the aircraft independently, because there's a risk I might guess wrong.  E.g. It would not be worth advancing with one aircraft and retreating with another, because if I guess wrong then the one which advances will get shot to bits, while the one at distance will loose opportunities for damage.  As such, I'd be encouraged to make general decisions, i.e. retreat with all (to minimise risk), or advance with all (to maximise damage), which results in a smaller decision space and less interesting combats.

Perhaps another way of explaining this is that if I don't know what the UFO is going to do on its turn, the space I am making decisions in is always the same so I will just apply the same rote strategy.  If I do know, then the decision space changes from turn to turn, and while there will sometimes be a best set of actions to take within that space, you're more likely to end up with dilemmas like that outlined above.

(I am, probably obviously, drawing inspiration from other games which do this, notably Into the Breach and Slay the Spire.  Both games work excellently with this kind of telegraphing, and assuming there's reasonable diversity in what UFOs can do and some randomness to the outcomes, I think this would make for a more engaging minigame).

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Into the Breach makes really good use of the telegraphing mechanic - although one objective in that game is to defend non-player objects. I don't know if it would transfer so well to the air combat here because that constraint doesn't exist (although it could). That said, some element of telegraphing would be cool, so that air combat has some focus on planning manoeuvres rather than just shooting. Positioning was a huge part of X1 air combat (it was like threading a needle but if you got into that narrow cone behind an enemy then you could stop them every turning to face you).

There are a bunch of ways to spice up the air game and I think that something elegant is the ultimate aim: something that that is simple, fun and quite addictive. Subset games: FTL and Into the Breach, are the kind of things that I have in mind with this but they are probably too deep. Or at least, they are too deep for the game as it stands - I'd be more than happy for the air game to get a lot bigger, with the inclusion of weaving the skyranger through enemy air space to make hot landings as a feature - but the current xenonauts framework isn't open to that (yet). 

As it stands, the air game needs to be fairly simple. As Drages said, if it gets too big, then it blocks the players who aren't very good at the air game. Those who are here for the classic xenonauts turn based, shield phalanx, shotguns-to-the-face ground combat are going to turn their nose up at any complex air game even if it doesn't include cards.

I'd be interested to hear how many people want air combat to be bigger and / or more complicated. If neither really appeals, then adding variety to counteract the repetition is probably never going to work - if it is not something people want to engage in, it'd be better simply to make air combat happen less often.

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11 hours ago, Ninothree said:

Into the Breach makes really good use of the telegraphing mechanic - although one objective in that game is to defend non-player objects. I don't know if it would transfer so well to the air combat here because that constraint doesn't exist (although it could). That said, some element of telegraphing would be cool, so that air combat has some focus on planning manoeuvres rather than just shooting. Positioning was a huge part of X1 air combat (it was like threading a needle but if you got into that narrow cone behind an enemy then you could stop them every turning to face you).

I don't think the absence of NPC objects to defend would mean that telegraphing wouldn't work.  Telegraphing works fine in Slay the Spire, for example, where literally the only object to protect is yourself.  Indeed (and this is should be no surprise to me; I've played quite a bit of it lately) I think Slay the Spire is a better comparison with what I'm suggesting here rather than Into the Breach.  It's basic mechanic is that you know broadly what the enemy is going to do to you on its turn; and you need to make the best of the resources you have available to mitigate this and/or do as much damage as you can to your enemy.  Slay the Spire trades on a card-based system rather than dice rolls - which in principle I think would work excellently here, too, but don't think it fits the tone of Xenonauts at all and so probably isn't a good idea - but I think that basic idea would transfer very well.

Thinking through this some more:

- As described, the player wants to have their aircraft as close to the UFO as possible before attacking, as weapons do more damage the closer they are to the UFO.  If there is no information about what the UFO is going to do, the decision about whether to advance on the UFO or hold back is entirely top-level strategic: either you advance with a view to doing more damage but accepting the risk of more damage yourself; or you hold back to minimise the risk of damage to yourself but also minimising damage on the UFO/denying yourself the opportunity to attack.  That, as far as I can see, is all there is to the game as outlined, which is de facto the same as the original X-Com but slower because its turn-based rather than real time.

- In contrast, if attacks are telegraphed, that top-level strategic decision (advance or hold back) becomes a tactical decision (advance or hold back *with each individual aircraft*) because you're not relying on luck to determine whether or not the aircraft you choose to advance do/do not get attacked that turn (this is what I outlined above).  So now, you're trying to get your aircraft as close as you can before firing while sometimes having an incentive to hold them back because they're under attack (though of course you may choose to ignore this).

- Now let's consider UFO movement.  As described, UFOs have a speed rating that moves them towards or away from the player's aircraft each turn.  This is described as a constant for a particular kind of UFO.  But I think it would be better as being variable instead.  E.g. a UFO might choose to move away from the player's aircraft, or may choose to advance on them, or may choose to do neither.  (It could even have the option to move towards some aircraft but away from others, reflecting the fact that the aircraft may be scattered and attacking from different angles).  This would make combats more dynamic and make long-term planning less predictable - e.g. moving into mid- or close-range is risky even for aircraft not under attack this turn, as the UFO may choose to close on them the following turn meaning they'll be in a more vulnerable position than if they just hung back in the first place).  As implied, then, this works well with telegraphing attacks as it means the best move with aircraft not under attack on a turn is not inherently to advance, because they might get trapped at a closer distance next turn by the UFO if it chooses to close with them.

- Now let's consider weapons.  As well as direct-fire weapons, UFOs could have attacks that (e.g.) hit everything within a particular range zone.  These don't work if you don't telegraph attacks, because it's random whether you happen to be in the zone it is attacking or not that turn, and it would be frustrating on those turns where you are.  But by telegraphing attacks, you can have weapons like these which afford some degree of area-denial on the part of the UFO, encouraging the player to move out of them (or not into them) even though that might have been best for other reasons.  This could synergise with move actions, e.g. an attack at long range to encourage the aircraft closer, coupled with a closing move so that the combatants are all at close range on the next turn and therefore highly vulnerable to damage.

- Then consider escorts.  I think Max_Cain's suggestion of using these as area-deniers is really good and fits with what I've been writing here well.  Again, their moves can be telegraphed, so you know where they will be, and you need to factor them in with regards to where you move to/where you direct your attacks.

Coupled with the time limit, which would forces players away from making the best defensive choices all the time, and I think you have a system which is fairly dynamic and will require players to make some difficult choices trying to maximise their chances of downing a UFO, without actually having a great deal of complexity in terms of options or rules (indeed, the basic actions implicit in all this - move and attack - are exactly the same as what Chris suggested) and which I think would still play pretty quick.

--

EDIT (Dammit, it's in my head now...):

On a different point to the above: dealing with destroyed aircraft.

I've not found much information about the game's economy, but I'm assuming that the issue of aircraft replacement is still going to need to be solved.  In Xenonauts 1, this was dealt with by making aircraft indestructible, just having a long recovery/repair time.  I think this was a good decision, gameplay wise, but still seems really silly as a concept.

As a possible solution to this, rather than building/buying aircraft, the game could allow you to requisition them for free.  Aircraft would still be limited by hangar space, and available pilots, so there's still a check on how much air power you can field.

Then, rather than building new advanced aircraft later on, you upgrade these requisitioned aircraft with new technology instead.  So aircraft would have a number of components (hardpoints, engine, armour and utility, for example) that you can customise individually.  If an aircraft is shot down, the aircraft is destroyed and you lose the upgrades and the pilot.  But you don't have to pay to replace the actual aircraft as well.

There's a number of advantages to this idea:

- It gets rid of very silly things like recovering damaged aircraft and building aircraft from scratch in three weeks.

- The cost of aircraft upgrades will be much easier to scale sensibly than the cost of whole aircraft, so even though there's an economic cost to losing a plane, it doesn't have to be huge (and it scales as the game goes on, as starting planes with no equipment will cost nothing to replace; while end-game planes will cost a lot more to replace because of all the upgrades on them).

- Air power advancement is more granular, as you'll upgrade aircraft piece by piece over time rather than having a big "jump" when a new aircraft comes in and air advancement can also tie into other priorities in the tech tree (e.g. investing in armour technology for soldiers is likely to also lead to armour advancement with aircraft, which creates and interaction between what you need to research for ground troops vs. what you need to research for aircraft).

- You don't need to find unique roles to differentiate later aircraft from earlier ones (which caused some problems with Xenonauts 1), and can focus on making interesting modules instead.  (I would imagine there being two basic frames of aircraft, a lighter one with fewer hardpoints but which is faster/more evasive and a heavier one with more hardpoints but slower/less evasive, basically the Condor and Foxtrot from X1.  You don't really need any more variety than that in terms of air frame - everything else can be done with modules).

- Having upgrades work on a modular level allows more flexibility in the kinds of abilities/modifiers you might add in, creates tradeoffs within module types, and allows for synergies between module types.

- You don't have to faff around making space for new advanced aircraft, since all upgrading is done on existing planes instead.

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If I can't play the Xenonauts-1's mini-game, that is piloting the planes "myself", I'd go for a much automatized combat solution, sit and see the result of my orders to the wing commander on my base's screen. In this case, the air-combat window wouldn't have to display any UFO/aircraft movement: all crafts would simply be drawn static along with a handful of statistics (height, speed, direction, damage level, damaged systems, ammunitions left, ..., some of them depending on my tech level and some other just displayed cosmetically (height?). If I'm a base commander without a joystick to pilot my planes, I can only issue initial orders and cross fingers if I'm blind and deaf. But if my tech level is high enough (fast communications, dynamical monitoring), I could issue new orders and the fight would become nearly turn-based. How to design a turn-based automated fight (automated to a base commander point of view, as he can't do anything between issuing orders)?

Engaged squadrons would be mixed (no 5 planes identical) and modulated (weapons, equipment) depending on the mission, prior to take-off.

On the first turn, the player would issue several orders to each squadron: stance (defensive, careful, aggressive, standard, testing, support (another squadron)), min engagement range (short, medium, long), main/preferred ordinance (cannon, missile, torpedo, equipment 1, equipment 2)... (I'm not sure of what "telegraphed UFO's actions" means). This would build a squadron's primary set of orders. If wanted, a secondary set of orders could also be defined for same squadron (if not overcomplicated): the combat AI would then switch from one to another according to the situation. There would be automatic features as well, such as use decoys and short range ECM.

A set of orders would result in several combat parameters: speed, fuel consumption, chances to hit, chances to be hit, chances to evade damage that would be opposed to the UFO's own parameters.

The combat AI would simulate a turn of combat by mean of several micro-rounds, as if a duel occurs in a real time strategy game. You would see on your screen the "instant" results as the action unfold.

There could be several turns when a UFO + escort is engaged by 3 squadrons.

The duration of a combat could be quite short indeed, as compared to Xenonauts-1's combat where I would pause the action on every 2-3 seconds. Here, you would pause at the beginning of each turn (2-3 turns?) to issue new orders, i.e. adapt your squadrons' fighting parameters.

Of course, this mini-game would need some scripted AI, as it would be equivalent (but I'm not sure) to an autoplayed ground combat between two squads.

 

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in a bout of over-enthusiasm, I did some prototyping earlier to check out how some of my suggestions above work in comparison with the original outline.  I was going to write up some comparisons as AARs but there's quite a lot and I don't want to spam this thread more than I have done.  So I'm going to write up the final one, which implements the conclusions I will outline below, and post it elsewhere as an illustration of what I think would make an effective system (all prototypes were using the same setup as outlined in that AAR, rules changes notwithstanding).  But I'll just offer a description and overview of the conclusions to be learned here.

Prototype 1: Original Rules (with chance to hit)

The first prototype I tested was using the rules outlines in Chris's original post, but using chance to hit with fixed damage rather than automatic hits with random damage (mostly because it's easier when using dice but I think that works better for reasons I'll outline below).  This played out as I thought: the UFO was moving away, so all I was doing each turn was moving my aircraft as far as they could, hoping they wouldn't get shot, until they were at close range when they unloaded their payload and brought the UFO down.  As there's nothing to react to, I can't see how I would play this out any different, aircraft loadouts and maybe some unlucky rolls notwithstanding.

Prototype 2: Telegraphing attacks and random movement

The second prototype had the UFO generate its actions at the beginning of the turn, before I took mine, so I know what it's going to do.  Both it's move (away from to towards my aircraft) and it's attack profile were randomly generated.  I tested this several times and it worked ok but there were also some problems.  On the one hand, knowing what the UFO was going to do varied how I was playing.  E.g. early on, if the UFO was targeting one of my aircraft with it's more powerful cannon, I would typically hold it back rather than advance it, which would sometimes lead to a bit of a standoff.  On the other hand, I noticed two issues which were making the combat too simple:

1) Being able to see the UFO's move in advance allowed me to exploit that too much when positioning.  E.g. Knowing that the UFO was going to move away from me on its move, I was able to move into close range, make my attacks which are very likely to hit, and then on the UFO's turn I would move back to medium range before it makes its own attacks.  The UFO moving away from me was therefore always a penalty for it, as I could exploit it for better hit odds compared with its own attacks.

2) Being able to fire all my weapons in the same turn made things far too easy.  Basically, all I needed to do was get into optimal range once, unload all my weapons, and that was the combat over.  Because the player attacks first on a turn, it's really easy to alpha-strike the UFO and destroy it without there being any meaningful risk.

Both of these issues were addressed in the final prototype through making the following changes:

- The UFO still telegraphs its actions, but the move action takes place *before* rather than after the player's action.  I.e. the turn order is: UFO move; player move; player shoot; UFO shoot.  This stops the player from exploiting the UFO's move like I described above and means that the player must be willing to receive fire in whatever attack zone they commit to moving to.  It also makes things a bit more unpredictable, as the player does not know what move action will be taken by the UFO next turn, so any move the player makes is made without that knowledge (and as much as I advocate telegraphing above, I think having run through this that with move actions actually having some uncertainty is good).

- The player can only attack with one cannon and one missile hardpoint per turn.  This gets rids of the alpha-strike problem outlined above, as they are unlikely to score a kill in a single turn under these circumstances and so are more likely to receive fire, meaning more risk/reward in terms of firing position.  In turn, this opens up strategies like attacking from longer range first to soften up the UFO before moving in; and may encourage the player to attack from sub-optimal positions because they don't think they will have time to make all of their attacks at optimal range before the UFO escapes.

Prototype 3: UFO moves first, telegraphs attacks and the player can only make limited attacks with an aircraft per turn

I'll leave this to the AAR but the changes outlined above have solved the problems they were intended to solve, and I think it works quite well now and after running it a few times I'm not finding any problems with the mechanics (balance is another matter, but that was never the point of this exercise).

---

One last thing, to expand on what I wrote above about fixed-hits/variable damage vs. random-hits/fixed damage: for me, the latter makes for a superior system not only because it adds some more unpredictability to the combat, but also allows for variety in weapon/aircraft/utility types.  E.g. in the prototype I ran, I was using two different missile types, one which did more damage but the other which had a bonus to hit.  The former was therefore better at close range (where hit chance is already high), while the latter is overall less strong but has an advantage at longer ranges (which may be important if you have to fire at those ranges).  Equally, it allowed there to be airframes with different advantages (Condor is smaller and more mobile, so -1 to be hit).  This is particularly important with UFOs: if you wanted to represent smaller UFOs being more agile (e.g. like light scouts in X1), you can't really do that if hits are automatic since it just translates directly into more hitpoints.  But if you have hit chances, you have have hard-to-hit UFOs which (e.g.) need high-accuracy weapons to reliably hit them.  For reasons like this, I think therefore that having hit chances would make for a more interesting and versatile system compared with having damage ranges.

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Posted (edited)

Hello Everyone,


Its been awhile, looks like i came back at the right time. The air combat mini game looks quite promising, it seems to have a fast paced chess feel to it. More importantly, its seems to have a very solid foundation because the game mechanics are more focused on turn based tactics. So, I get the impression that the concerns noted on this thread are more about enhancing the system further at this point. However, I don't think it needs numerous enhancements, and each should not interfere with the fast paced nature of the game. Here are two enhancements that may solve some of Chris's or the group's concerns.

ENHANCEMENT#1: Strafing

Have you guys considered adding a strafing mechanic to the air combat mini game?Why not allow planes and aliens to strafe left and right at the cost of half a turn, similar to how it is for ground combat. Someone earlier suggested dividing the board into three columns,  I like this idea. Giving each plane the ability to strafe in three positions and moving forward a band should be more than enough. These mobility options should allow each plane to either strafe twice or strafe once and attack, similar to ground combat. This can also lead to some interesting setups for attacks/evasion by either the player or AI. More importantly, it removes the impression of evasion as chance based and makes it more location based. However, please keep full turn cost of moving forward a band. From an immersion standpoint,  strafing are small short bursts of movement intended to gain the advantage to make the kill during the engagement while intercepting (moving foward each band)  is more concerned with getting into an of area of engagement. This may complement very well with the fast paced chess feel and give the mini game an even more air combat feel as well.

 

ENHANCEMENT#2: SQUADRON'S LEVEL UP INSTEAD OF INDIVIDUAL PILOTS


       As for pilots, I love the idea and i understand it may be difficulty to implement. So i pondered about possible solutions , and then it clicked, the solution lies in Xenonauts squad personality.
Xenonauts focuses more on the squad customization vs  individual soldier composition. Thus, instead of focusing on individual pilots, focus on adding squadrons instead. For instance, allow playersto hire pilots as a resource much like engineers and place them in a base. Once you have several pilots, you can create a squadron,  and assign each pilot to a plane.  On the other hand, allow squadrons to gain experience by completing missions, kills.  For example, whenever a pilot kills a tango, the squadron as a whole receives the XP. Also, if you have a squadron that is comprised of short range interceptors, and after gaining sufficient experience,  they can gain tier based composition bonuses like additional damage or % chance to get an extra strafe move. When a squadron loses a pilot during a combat engagement, the squadrons permanently loses some experience.The player then has to add pilots back into the squadrons pool to potentially restore composition bonuses but a penalty is incurred on experience gain for a period of time.

 

To the Goldhawk development team, keep up the good work! If you guys keep this up, you may need to create a stand alone air combat game haha.

 

Edited by Hank Rearden

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Thanks for the thoughts everyone, and welcome back @kabill. I’ve not had time to properly read the recent posts in full yet (and I definitely can’t give an appropriately in-depth response from my phone) but I’ll read them properly when I get back in just over a week.

If all goes well the basics of the new air combat should be implemented in the dev version of the game by then, so I can start to test the mechanics out in their digital incarnation. I’ll be able to give you guys a more concrete idea of my views after I’ve done that.

@endersblade I don’t think there’s much danger of me turning the air combat into a card-based system, because X2 aspires to be more simulationist than that ... but if you don’t like an idea, it’s nicer for everyone if you attack the idea itself rather than the person posting it.

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Posted (edited)
On 8/14/2018 at 7:46 AM, drages said:

@Ravn7 i just don't want to have a deck at my xcom game. I don't want to have random events to choose from. Choosing something from random possibilities, is ultra unrealistic for me.. it kills all the immersion. I hate to use cards at a realistic game for that reason.. i cannot bring them together.. it's me :)..

Why would random events be unrealistic? I understand that certain aspects of gameplay would make sense to not be as randomized for immersion reasons, but at the same time adding cards help account for the many unpredictable aspects of realistic combat that are lost in a typical turn based tactical game. Cards would simply be a way of visualizing the probability of these events, but other methods could be used to present them in a more theme appropriate way.

 

On 8/14/2018 at 3:48 PM, endersblade said:

Anyone recommending they add some sort of contrived ridiculous card game to X2 should be banned from the forums.  Seriously, that would be suicide for X2.  I know exactly the sort of system you are referring to, and no, it would not make a good addition to X2 no matter how you spin it.  This isn't that type of game.

Chill dude

 

On 8/15/2018 at 1:35 PM, Ninothree said:

I'd be interested to hear how many people want air combat to be bigger and / or more complicated. If neither really appeals, then adding variety to counteract the repetition is probably never going to work - if it is not something people want to engage in, it'd be better simply to make air combat happen less often.

I'd be down for more complicated air combat so long as it was set in the genre of a tactical turned based game.

Edited by BDSMOverdrive

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Air combat in a means to an end, it should be there to provide scenarios to ground combat.

So there should be an option to go auto air battle, if you really just wont the play the ground combat, aspect of this game, and if you are into air combat, you can play that as well? 

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I'm not sure about the "means to an end". Proper balance should keep the feeling of a consistent planetary defense simulation, not only a tactical squad game, hence elements of RPG, story, base management, diplomatics, research, ... and air combat.

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Posted (edited)

Perhaps we can rethink at the strategic layer? The UFOs are invincible. No fighters can fight them. No airbase, no radar base, no pilot and squard management for an auto-resolved mini-game.

Since you simply can't beat them in early game, you can only assault a grounded UFO if you want the components.

Eventually, when you collect enough, your brillent-arrogant scientist save the world again. A breakthrough that let you board a UFO mid-air. (Or mid-dimension!) Xenonauts has finally gained the ability to prevent a terror mission - by taking over the UFO and crash it somewhere safe.  Or send it home, when the alien navigation system is no longer a black box.

Instead of good old "kill everything" it can even be "capture the flag" (take and hold control room) or "hit and run" (kill all engines).  They may be very hard and not necessary to finish the game.

Sense of progression. No satellite or air game debate. More of what the game do best. Make sense?

Edited by Sheepy

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A weapon that could take control of the alien air craft, could be an option, as you would be able to get access to all its component and crew?

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You can UFO´s bring down, that isn´t the problem. They are only Airplaines like ours and have their weaknesses. A shockwave from a hit can destroy the Enginepowerrelais or other light destroyable Systems.

At the beginning of the Game this will be harder like in every UFO Game we played (like the old X-Com Titels / UFO Extraterestials). I say we should test the Game in the Beta and watch what we could change. To make a heat head about things we couldn´t test before doesn´t brings annything. 

But the Idea from Hank Readen is very cool. That could brought in.

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I had forgot about the way the UFO are coming at the surface: vessel-size interdimensional travel.

Whether they materialize in the orbital neighbourhood, or very close to the surface, humanity would hardly get a chance to intercept them before they land, except if, as in Xenonauts-1, they spend hours hovering at high altitude to let our jets greeting them. They were alledgedly not so nimble in the atmosphere at the beginning of the invasion. Now they certainly deploy Interdictor-class fighters and no less than Cruiser-class UFOs to transport whatever they need.

One way to bypass a painful and deadly aerial dogfight could be that the UFOs get finally trapped in some "mid-air" stasis the moment when they materialize (after some serious research is conducted), and all that the Xenonauts have to do is to disable the AA defenses in an asymetric duel (perhaps escort can still manoeuvre), breach the hull and board the UFO (to pillage it and/or to destroy it before reinforcements are sent).

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I don't really think there's much to be gained by discussing ways we can remove the air combat from the game. I'm pretty intent on putting air combat in the game (indeed it's already in the game); it's just finding the appropriate level of depth for it.

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I actually don't see how card game is bad. Ok, if you would take hearthstone or magic card games as prototype those are horrible for minigame. But if you would take simple game such as slay the spire as prototype 20 cards 5 drawn then discarded, it would be quick enough Downing UFO might be as quick as one to 4 minutes based on familiarity. IF you would take card quest another good one for short combat card game and sorta simulates realtime combat, there you can redraw for resources, and draw extra cards by spending resources.

And I do see why you can't shoot that torpedo or machine gun whenever you want simple pilot was put out into such position that missile would just miss, so only evading is remains to do. Same with lack of evasive maneuvers you just pinned down in such extent that pilot left only to shoot, everything else would just be counter productive.

 

So here is my idea. First one is slay the spire like combat. First each plane is sorta like class or chassis, so for example heavy bomber has heavy slot, Energy generator, xHP and fuel. Also each plane has default maneuver card, and all equipment replaces 3 of those (no equipment there is 3 more basic cards to use). For example bomber might have lock-on cards, while interceptor evasive maeuver. So it is like up to 6 slots for different equipment. Equipment gives set of cards and might give passive bonus to plane( pretty big space, might even allow modders to add alternative prototype equipment, or risky weapons with better one or two cards but worse others), some equipment might use energy generator (so in bomber example you may only equip one device), or Heavy weapon slot, or Missile or Cannon or high frequency generator. IF you have two of same you may get equipment that requires two mix of certain prebuilt equipment. (like plasma torpedo requiring energy generator and heavy slot) So deck building becomes more of strategic equipment choice, do you send your plane light or go full loaded, does this subsystem helps you or removes important card.  Not saying for example that certain equipment like alienium missiles on bomber might do different things then on f16 (like having on bomber salvo launch cards, or chain reaction due to ability to load more of those or have certain plane specific opportunities.)

 

Each card played subtracts fuel from each plane. Pilot has limited amount of action points to act, and you pick at beginning of each turn the plane to act. Each card removed on use(might have charges which means card discarded) and discarded cards reshuffled once deck is empty. At beginning of turn you draw up to 5 cards at end of turn you discard all cards from action pool. Each played card is fuel reduction for all planes if plane low on fuel it retreats.

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second idea is more to simulate operator then plane, aka pilot has focus and what it needs to do now (aka weather you collect defensive cards to deal with attacks of escorts and UFO now or dig for attacks to damage ufo) there are more resources but main one focus, deck is consists out of 17 cards. (2 generic not discarded one draws 3 cards for free and restores 3-4 focus, another restores 5-8 focus and draws a card for free.) rest decided by plane weapons, systems, and plane itself, plus several subsystem to be used at any time they are relevant. You can draw cards from any plane deck and play them as you see fit. (ofcause like with previous example most cards destroyed on use or do have charges). You can have only 5 or 7 cards at hand and if you would draw more you don't. So you would have to discard unnecessary cards first (which can be done for free). Also there is always possibility to redraw for focus at first turn, or draw cards for focus in middle of next turns. (2 phases one defensive on offensive and each offensive phase you gain some focus back)

Pros, allows multiple resources (tempest generator, which defends building charges then offloads hypercharge, or limited ammo like heavy torpedoes and such)

Cons that heavy bomber just made an interceptor evasive maneuver what the hell. But if single plane cards are removed and evasive maneuver replaced by distraction maneuver now interceptor distracts enemy from hitting.

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The  only cons in common however that card games might be hard to pick up and you would have to make tutorial even for most basic rulesets, so first few combats would be ok what is this resource, or what is this action. But after it it would be fast.

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Second what I heard is into the breach mechanics, I like it but considering Geoscape of original x1 is gone (which was underworked compared to original UFO where each UFO had its own mission scouts were scouting for future missions , heavier ships were hunting for craft or protecting.) Shame I would like x2 have even greater effect, maybe certain missions launching infiltration missions to spread out.

But I would say out it anyway, the idea would be prevent enemy from achieving mission, teleporting terror crew, scounting or bombing target(so you need to set up overwatch zones, to spook UFO off). With research of UFO you gain its targets so now it is not just gun down, with alien communications decoder you get more direct predictions what targets after UFO is. If it could be done in this mechanic it would be simple tactical game which would be in line with ground missions. So you still have those high value targets like city locations, or government buildings, or base building spots, or just timed gun down mission before UFO gets to target while trying to fight off drones or escort.

 

 

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I think the problem with card game is that they are associated with and often rely on randomness in abilities, instead of randomness in numbers like a dice game.

The advantage is that it keeps every game fresh, assuming there is a sufficiently large pool of variations to draw from.  There is definitely strategy involved, and you often need to rethink your tactic on the fly.

The disadvantage is I have observed that many turn based strategy game players don't like impromptu / ad hoc tactic revision, at least not frequently (turn after turn).  Some like to make a long term plan and commit to it, some like to know all the factors so that they can make the "right" decisions.  Card game is not bad by itself, but we don't see them often in turn based STG.

 

This discussion reminds me of an old card-based fight game I played.  The cards are a few basic moves, and a few special moves.  That is normally not enough variety, but each basic moves has a strength number associated with it, that is part random and part decided by the state of the field when you draw the card (health, position, status etc.).  It is still closer to a card game than an STG, but is less "dramatic" and has a more realistic feel.

Edited by Sheepy

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54 minutes ago, Sheepy said:

I think the problem with card game is that they are associated with and often rely on randomness in abilities, instead of randomness in numbers like a dice game.

The advantage is that it keeps every game fresh, assuming there is a sufficiently large pool of variations to draw from.  There is definitely strategy involved, and you often need to rethink your tactic on the fly.

The disadvantage is I have observed that many turn based strategy game players don't like impromptu / ad hoc tactic revision, at least not frequently (turn after turn).  Some like to make a long term plan and commit to it, some like to know all the factors so that they can make the "right" decisions.  Card game is not bad by itself, but we don't see them often in turn based STG.

 

This discussion reminds me of an old card-based fight game I played.  The cards are a few basic moves, and a few special moves.  That is normally not enough variety, but each basic moves has a strength number associated with it, that is part random and part decided by the state of the field when you draw the card (health, position, status etc.).  It is still closer to a card game than an STG, but is less "dramatic" and has a more realistic feel.

Isn't it a reason? Randomness in  tactic leads to randomness in engagement, which already was requested, plus with correct card pool redistribution each of small decks could be already way to deal with one or another problem. I am not talking about  tanks such as eternal, tes arena, or hearthstone, or MtG, first they are too slow second they are murdurously complex for minigame. Those are just obscene in complexity. Slay the spire is one of easiest to grasp, and it has good system, another example has only one instability is starting conditions, and the way you cycle cards, you basically do juggling and resource managing with sometimes having to use subsystem to overcome limitation or get extra turn without being damaged too much. In fact I don't see any level of even slay the spire complexity in here, just basic functionality, and maybe few others comming with mods. Minigame shouldn't be super complex inside game, and should be manageable for everyone. And simple decks of cards which are almost prebuilt and easy to seek guides would open up accessibility. It is like receipt send 2 interceptors and one bomber to down this UFO. It is just this current iteration is a bit dumb and feels more like a chore. Just look what enemy does and do best action. Step down even from orginal UFO minigame(there was no click fest) and far inferior to x1 even if you don't like it.

 

I understand why it goes away, even though I am all for 5 seconds simultanious turns with pause between each turn to give orders. There is such free game shadow armada, it had just awesome spacecraft combat which sorta behaved like aircraft in x1, but it was turn based system.

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I wanna see what the new airfight system can do. The old one from the pedecusor was good and very inovative for the first game. It gave it the last kick. Let´s see what the new system can do now.

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