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ApolloZani

Soldier Injuries and Permanency Suggestion?

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I've been thinking about the injuries system a lot over the past few weeks. Having played X-Com, Xenonauts, XCOM: EW, XCOM 2:WotC after it went on sale and beating them all this month, I've come to a few ideas that might all be beyond scope.

Injuries aren't interesting unless you can purposefully inflict them (ie, aiming for the legs to stop someone from running away) which is very Fallout and I kinda have my doubts that any such system would really be used. Save for the times when you'd want to capture an alien, you'd always just be aiming to kill rather than to maim. On the other side, for the players, an injury system is only as good as your ability to interact with it. A simple way to do this is to have individually armored locations such as helmets and leg pads. Each of these would provide some kind of trade off such as reducing aim, vision, or mobility.

There is a much more interesting and difficult to do variant that I've thought of though: having injuries be effectively permanent. A soldier who got blasted in their dominant hand with superheated plasma could get nerve damage which lowers the aim of anything that uses that hand for seemingly the rest of the game. Someone could have their off hand melted by a plasma grenade meaning they could only ever use it to hold a shield effectively but take large penalties for two handed weapons. Eyes can be lost and vision can be fried. 

Cuts and bruises and concussions can be fixed at the beginning. Only later on, when you've stolen some sibilian stem glands that you can repair the simple things like nerve damage.

Even better, and this is the real crux of this idea, is that soldiers who are downed are only rarely dead. Someone could lose both their arms because of a stray rocket or need to have one of their legs amputated because the plasma just melted too much of the limb. Not dead, but might as well be dead to you since they're no longer useful as soldiers.

Enter Alien Electronics: In Xenonauts 1, there was the officer in charge of the barracks who was missing an arm. With the first range of base upgrades he got a rather basic replacement, with the second he was sporting a functional cybernetic arm. While I wouldn't want X2 to go full MELD, being able to revive 'dead' soldiers the further the along you are in the campaign would feel absolutely stellar. You may have lost your 90 Aim sniper half-way through due to an accident that stole their sight, but they're still with you. Psionics can let someone see through cameras, or better yet, be able to only see aliens while the rest of the non-blind squad gets the scouting information that lets them know where to go. Even if they can't attack robots anymore, they can be used again when the technology is there. It's just expensive is all.

...

This can lead to a very silly situation where most of your squad is a ragtag bunch of raggedy anne soldiers with the worst scaring anyone has ever seen. No idea if anyone wants that.

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I hate permanent damage... but "fix it with alien tech" is a game changer.  I see lots of microamangemnt potential with this proposal, like lighter arm armour for soldiers who have already lost their arm(s) or are already using cybernatic replacements, but I pretty like the idea as a whole.

Your soldiers will have more ups and downs over the course of the game, instead of simple hp flux.  Keeps the scientists or engineers busy and perhaps introduce new rehab base facility.  Or even a new skill tree to reflect their training on their melded body.  It is also a way to make facing matters more than vision cone, which make it easier to remove that too.  There is potential to make a better Meld with the moral dilemma of keeping an army of zombie soldier or firing them all in early game.

And game reviewers love moral dilemmas these days.

Edited by Sheepy
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It could be a very dark and harrowing game, where you send your soldiers out to fight and they gradually lose their limbs over the campaign, only to be rejuvenated using the alien technology they are sent out to steal. I like the idea that the game is test of survival until the next medical breakthrough. Instead of worrying about making it to next month's funding, you're more concerned with how many soldiers can stand and shoot, and how many spare arms you have in cold storage. The game could be divided into phases, the first with conventional human medicine, where you are losing soldiers and not able to replace them; then you get some healing factor so you can get damaged soldiers back in a matter of days not months; finally, you research augmentation and field superhuman ubermensch.

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On 7/30/2018 at 6:00 AM, Ninothree said:

It could be a very dark and harrowing game, where you send your soldiers out to fight and they gradually lose their limbs over the campaign, only to be rejuvenated using the alien technology they are sent out to steal. I like the idea that the game is test of survival until the next medical breakthrough. Instead of worrying about making it to next month's funding, you're more concerned with how many soldiers can stand and shoot, and how many spare arms you have in cold storage. The game could be divided into phases, the first with conventional human medicine, where you are losing soldiers and not able to replace them; then you get some healing factor so you can get damaged soldiers back in a matter of days not months; finally, you research augmentation and field superhuman ubermensch.

You couldn't pay me enough to play a game like that.  You make it sound like the Aliens just shoot for arms and legs, and our arms and legs are just paper.  This isn't a Roguelike survival game.

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I meant more that there was some attrition to your squad, some die, some are merely gravely wounded. Indeed, aliens just trying to kill you limb by limb would be weird.

Survival isn't traditional in xcom, and it is not a game type that everyone can hack. The point is that it would eventually not be a survival when you unlock the alien-resurrection tech, but getting that tech is the challenge you have to beat. Kinda like how the base defence mission is a gate you have to pass to progress - except in this case, it would be a longer challenge than just a single mission.

Most xcom games are fairly difficult but it is also fairly rare to lose outright. Allowing mid-game resurrection would give you a reason to push on through losses but also dangle the threat of a game over situation.

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I'd want to point out that the one of the reasons we are discussing so much about location injury is that it's one of the top voted goals on Kickstarter.  I suspect that different players may be voting for different things in mind.  Some may want a survival experience, but some may just want to have more varied debuffs.  The later is I think the goal proposal.

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I think we should not have so lethal injuries. I would like to have a fallout 1 style aiming system. Shooting legs would lower tu, arms will have acc penalty, head could knock out. It should be hard to hit if the vats system used. So you need to have good scopes and aiming should have much more tu, or only aimed shot can have it. 

You could mod the effects too. 

 

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22 hours ago, Sheepy said:

The later is I think the goal proposal.

This was my understanding. The simplest iteration I was expecting was simply if soldier takes more the X% of max hp in a single hit, roll on injury table. Injury table includes every injury possible including some weighting to no injury that changes based on how much the threshold was exceeded by. In combat this would be an immediate debuff that may be slightly alleviated (but not fully) by medkit treatment. Afterwards the soldier would need some Medbay time before usable again with the chance of the injury becoming a permanent battle scar debuff. Maybe some late game alien med tech could reduce the chance of a battlescar after a hospital stay or even remove old scars from veterans in exchange for optional medbay stays. 

Regardless the whole targeting limbs seems complicated and unrealistic considering our real world training is centre of mass targeting. If you want to take an alien alive X1 already has easy to use viable solutions that I doubt we'll see disappear. Shooting a heavily armed alien without the intent to kill in the hopes of winging him in the leg is just silly IMO.

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I don't know.  Stripping legs off the alien queen and popping its head do have some entertainment value more than the mechanical debuff numbers or as a mean to capture. Phoenix Point and BattleTech are both satisifying this way.

Edited by Sheepy
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49 minutes ago, Sheepy said:

Stripping legs off the alien queen and popping its head do have some entertainment value more than the mechanical debuff numbers or as a mean to capture.

Yes, but you require aliens that you likely won't be able to kill in two or three turns for that to be effective, otherwise you'll just be going for the kill instead of the maim. I don't think Xenonauts has aliens like that in mind, unless reapers suddenly get a lot more evil and sebillians start acting like necromorphs.

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Locational damage (as distinct from regular HP) could tie into the specialty of each alien race:

  • Sebillians regenerate so you need to shoot them in the heart for a kill
  • Wraiths are best taken down with headshots because that stops them teleporting
  • Androns need their arms taking out, otherwise they'll just keep shooting
  • Reapers are melee so shoot out their legs from afar

In terms of humans taking wounds, I think that locational damage could pave way for a softer 'death'. Say that your soldier gets hit somewhere that is not their head (because no one walks off a head shot), then that soldier either fights on with a penalty or sits the fight out. If a soldier receives one body part of damage then they're in the medbay for a month, if they take two then they die. This means that you can have many 'battle royale' style fights with only a single hero soldier making it out still standing, but that doesn't mean your soldier roster resets to one.

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5 hours ago, Ninothree said:

In terms of humans taking wounds, I think that locational damage could pave way for a softer 'death'.

This is what I'm hoping for most. While I enjoy the permadeath aspect of the game and rarely save scum even from some of the most unavoidable and cheap feeling deaths I've had, if death became less black and white, 100 to 0, or any other analogy you want to use, I think it would be more enjoyable. In X1 a soldier with 1hp and a soldier with Max HP fight identically efficient (assuming same stats) and then once they hit 0 hp they are done. Rather then having this fixed point, using random injury tables to give degraded performance, or even incapacitate them prior to hp reaching 0 adds some depth. Also incapacitation injury could take the place of the seemly random post battle 'revived' mechanic. You could also add more functions to medkits, like painkillers or stims, to go along with the injury types. 

Side note: Also make injured soldiers matter. In X1 you can build a med bay day one and from that point most soldiers will be 100% before the next mission if you're not going too crazy. Once you get some armor on a 75+ hp soldier you know he can take a few hits from bog standard aliens and be right as rain in 3 days so you can play a little less cautiously with him. However if that one hit that did 1/4 of his HP puts him out for a full month, and when he returns he has an accuracy penalty from a dominate hand injury then even little hits matter.

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There is something important here. We are not against some terrorists with normal rifles.. they are aliens with plasma weapons with alenium grenades.. Maybe you can survive some alien pistol shots if your armor fails to save you but against bigger weapons, the damage will be deadly. So with that kind of "injury-permanent penalty" type game, you can never have good soldiers. If your soldier lost his arm, you can just let him killed at the mission because it's no use for you anymore.. It's like a bit Starship Troopers style, heh :)..

Anyway, this needs a complex game code and UI.. I don't think Chris wants to go far even with partial aiming yet a complex injury system. As we all know that, XCOM's are about missing shots.. so if there is a fallout system here, we will probably miss much more.. Still i would love to have a real snipers in the game with this system..

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Even in the modern world, it's common for soldiers to receive wounds that cause them to be permanently unfit for duty without being fatal. A moderate advancement in cybernetics would have them back to near 100% in only a few years. With Alien Magic Sufficiently Advanced Technology, that time can be reduced to the amount appropriate for gameplay, and costs set at whatever is balanced.

Something like a broken ankle, that currently has a recovery time of a few months, can instantly incapacitate someone as a soldier for the duration of a mission. (Maybe some of them can still shoot while immobile, but even trained soldiers won't be very accurate when dealing with that amount of pain).

Fallout's level of abstraction assumed that almost all bullet "hits" were grazes or deflected by armor. Based on the ease of recovery, a 'crippled' leg was barely a flesh wound.

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I used to play a similar game name Silent storm which got aiming and injuries system nearly as you describle: go for the head make blind reduce vision and aim; shoot the hand mean lower aim, take more ap to do stuff, damage or drop off weapon, made gernade on hand explore; leg damage reduce moving ability. So this should be like heavy injuries only be treated out of combat, while the game progress there some unlock tech or skill can help treat heavy injuries in combat like character skill, peak, tech to allow treating, equipment heal fatal wound,...
But this system is complex, too hard for newbie but can be easily abuse by veteran.

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