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Don't you know there is a war going on?

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Abstracting sounds a great idea, but how would a player like me know that the NPC air defence is working? Would you do something like, I dunno, shade a portion of the geoscape the UFO is flying over so that I know that local defences are doing something?

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I think it'd be happening enough that you wouldn't have to show anything if it was abstracted. In X2 UFOs inflict effects on a local region when they spawn anomalies (the little non-interactive Geoscape events that they spawn), and if they take damage every time they do that then I'm not sure we'd need to show anything except for the anomalies that already appear. We'd just need a way to tell the player at the start of the game that the UFOs are suffering damage from the air defences each time that happens.

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14 minutes ago, Max_Caine said:

Abstracting sounds a great idea, but how would a player like me know that the NPC air defence is working? Would you do something like, I dunno, shade a portion of the geoscape the UFO is flying over so that I know that local defences are doing something?

Wouldnt a rudimentary stream of missiles from the territory towards the UFO be an unobstructing way of telling the player there is something like a fight going on ? The higher the defense of a country the more missiles can be shot. You can also add something like aircraft to this minigif if you want.

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2 minutes ago, Chris said:

I think it'd be happening enough that you wouldn't have to show anything if it was abstracted. In X2 UFOs inflict effects on a local region when they spawn anomalies (the little non-interactive Geoscape events that they spawn), and if they take damage every time they do that then I'm not sure we'd need to show anything except for the anomalies that already appear. We'd just need a way to tell the player at the start of the game that the UFOs are suffering damage from the air defences each time that happens.

I think a mini-GIF with mini-missiles and mini-aircraft would make the geoscape feel a lot more involved than it was in X1. The mini-gif is as long active as the UFO is above the country. It would be important that the mini-GIF is 1. not an eye-catcher, just a small visual representation of what is going on and 2. that it visually scales with the actual defense of the country.

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7 minutes ago, Chris said:

I think it'd be happening enough that you wouldn't have to show anything if it was abstracted. In X2 UFOs inflict effects on a local region when they spawn anomalies (the little non-interactive Geoscape events that they spawn), and if they take damage every time they do that then I'm not sure we'd need to show anything except for the anomalies that already appear. We'd just need a way to tell the player at the start of the game that the UFOs are suffering damage from the air defences each time that happens.

Even if not a minigif, alternatively you could just add a little red cross on the right bottom of the UFO to tell the player that the UFO is engaged by the country its flying over. Again a visual scaling of how much it is engaged by would be nice.

If you implement mechanics its always nice to give the player a visual representation of what is actually going.

Visual design is not about realism, just about a symbolic representation of what ( in the best case ) really is going on.

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10 minutes ago, Chris said:

I think it'd be happening enough that you wouldn't have to show anything if it was abstracted. In X2 UFOs inflict effects on a local region when they spawn anomalies (the little non-interactive Geoscape events that they spawn), and if they take damage every time they do that then I'm not sure we'd need to show anything except for the anomalies that already appear. We'd just need a way to tell the player at the start of the game that the UFOs are suffering damage from the air defences each time that happens.

I'm concerned that wouldn't be the truth. It's possible to put up a textbox to say "NPC defences are working", but is that somethng I'm going to remember mid-game? I suppose we'll find out come Early Access, but I'm pretty confident that people will be reporting bugs like "UFO damaged never touched it", because they aren't cognisant of NPCs without some form of reminder. 

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Visualising the damage probably isn't impossible but it does add an extra level of complexity to the system. Where do these missiles come from? Presumably we'd have to place specific SAM sites on the map that they originate from?

But then if we do that, any alien activity that destroys or damages the Air Defence rating would have to be applied to a SAM site, which would be awkward if the mission inflicting the damage doesn't happen to be anywhere near a SAM site. And also damage inflicted by the SAM site would have to be inflicted after the missile hits the target, not when the anomaly is spawned, otherwise the damage is going to appear on the UFO before the visual effect reaches it. That's the first two things that spring to mind, but there's bound to be more.

I imagine most of the problems can be solved with enough thinking and coder time, but I think I'd start with the simple method to see if the gameplay effects are worthwhile before worrying too much about the visualisation.

 

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21 minutes ago, Chris said:

Visualising the damage probably isn't impossible but it does add an extra level of complexity to the system. Where do these missiles come from? Presumably we'd have to place specific SAM sites on the map that they originate from?

But then if we do that, any alien activity that destroys or damages the Air Defence rating would have to be applied to a SAM site, which would be awkward if the mission inflicting the damage doesn't happen to be anywhere near a SAM site. And also damage inflicted by the SAM site would have to be inflicted after the missile hits the target, not when the anomaly is spawned, otherwise the damage is going to appear on the UFO before the visual effect reaches it. That's the first two things that spring to mind, but there's bound to be more.

The capability of a SAM site doesnt only depend on its immediate environment, there is something called logistics and supply routes too. After all you dont put a SAM into the wilderness and it will function unconditionally forever. People are operating a SAM site, they need food and water. And machines need regular maintenance. Spare parts need to be delivered. Technical Operators might want to check on the equipment.
All of these means there needs to be supply routes for them, usually in the forms of roads, or rails, to deliver personel and equipment to and from the site. Roads dont build themself. Factories dont build themself. Resource Extraction sites dont build themself. Hit any of these and you are also weakening the defense capability of any SAM site. What is a defense system good with the missiles stuck on a destroyed road ?
The "defense value" for a country is just a symbolical representation of those statistical occurences, no ? The visual representation doesnt need to go over that.

21 minutes ago, Chris said:

I imagine most of the problems can be solved with enough thinking and coder time, but I think I'd start with the simple method first before worrying too much about all the extra complexity.

Thats the way to go. The visual representations are the very last thing to implement anyway. First you wanna feel out the mechanic. If the mechanic gets scrapped there is no use to think about it further. My point was simply about the basic fact that if a mechanic gets represented by a visual indication its pretty nice for the player. Even if it is just a red cross on the right bottom end of the UFO flying around. The human eyesight is next to nothing apart from the eyes of the few predatory birds around the world.

Edited by Charon

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On 1/27/2019 at 6:59 PM, Chris said:

Visualising the damage probably isn't impossible but it does add an extra level of complexity to the system. Where do these missiles come from? Presumably we'd have to place specific SAM sites on the map that they originate from?

But then if we do that, any alien activity that destroys or damages the Air Defence rating would have to be applied to a SAM site, which would be awkward if the mission inflicting the damage doesn't happen to be anywhere near a SAM site. And also damage inflicted by the SAM site would have to be inflicted after the missile hits the target, not when the anomaly is spawned, otherwise the damage is going to appear on the UFO before the visual effect reaches it. That's the first two things that spring to mind, but there's bound to be more.

I imagine most of the problems can be solved with enough thinking and coder time, but I think I'd start with the simple method to see if the gameplay effects are worthwhile before worrying too much about the visualisation.

 

What about little animated mini events like this?

Advance-wars-minis.jpg

(Shamelessly photoshopped by me using Advance wars assets :P)

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I'm imagining Earth's NPCs getting slowly eroded like the barriers in Space Invaders. Try as you might, they all get destroyed after enough time. All you can do is hide behind them for a while and try to hit that 500-pointer flying past. So dismal. I love it. 

In X1, the simulated alien invasion is essentially a clock. Just like in Space Invaders, it is a stream of random attacks that speed up over time. The player's strategy is to organise a defence that strengthens faster than the attack. There is not feeling to that. I mean, its fun, but it is empty.

The key is to give it that living feeling. Maybe something like simulating a few big battles between the NPCs and the aliens. These battles would have an outcome without player intervention, but the player could get involved to swing it the other way. The point is for it to be a series of events that exists in their own right - like a film that you could just sit and watch. Or, you could get involved and feel as though you're making a difference.

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For me personally it would be really nice to see Earth's military forces put up the best fight they can on the screen, and then gradually see them ground down in their hopeless struggle against the alien invaders. I think it's a quite visceral experience to see one allied npc aircraft after another shot down, knowing that the nations cannot replace them at the rate they are losing them. It'd strongly reinforce both the direness of the situation and the importance of the fight I am in.

I also see no reason not to integrate player options into this: the allied nations send up planes to shoot down UFOs, you can send additional planes to join into a squadron. The allied nations will, sooner or later, try and deal with a crash site themselves. You can either try to be there first so you get all the loot for yourself, wait until they are there and have some allied NPCs helping you, which will then also demand some of the spoils, or just decide that you don't have the time to deal with it and the crash site disappears eventually having been cleared by the nation it is in.

 

As far as difficulty goes - i actually made a post quite a while ago, where i looked into possibilities of keeping the difficulty adapting to player skill and keep the game engaging and challenging throughout all phases. As far as i know part of the central idea - that the AI adapts to player behaviour - is going to be part of Xenonauts 2, albeit i have no information on how significant that will be.

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On 3/19/2019 at 10:38 AM, Drakon said:

For me personally it would be really nice to see Earth's military forces put up the best fight they can on the screen, and then gradually see them ground down in their hopeless struggle against the alien invaders. I think it's a quite visceral experience to see one allied npc aircraft after another shot down, knowing that the nations cannot replace them at the rate they are losing them. It'd strongly reinforce both the direness of the situation and the importance of the fight I am in.

I also see no reason not to integrate player options into this: the allied nations send up planes to shoot down UFOs, you can send additional planes to join into a squadron. The allied nations will, sooner or later, try and deal with a crash site themselves. You can either try to be there first so you get all the loot for yourself, wait until they are there and have some allied NPCs helping you, which will then also demand some of the spoils, or just decide that you don't have the time to deal with it and the crash site disappears eventually having been cleared by the nation it is in.

 

As far as difficulty goes - i actually made a post quite a while ago, where i looked into possibilities of keeping the difficulty adapting to player skill and keep the game engaging and challenging throughout all phases. As far as i know part of the central idea - that the AI adapts to player behaviour - is going to be part of Xenonauts 2, albeit i have no information on how significant that will be.

If local forces started the game providing a decent amount of support, but as the aliens escalate they provide less (both in absolute terms, as the number/quality of their troops drops to attrition damage, and in relative terms, as the aliens get harder), that could introduce a clock pressure element without an artificial 'end' timer; the longer you take to start dealing with the aliens, the worse the tactical situation gets.

 

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I like the idea of seeing friendly aircraft flying around the map. I really like the idea of watching them go down in flames, then sending my fighters to finish of the UFOs.

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On 1/27/2019 at 4:21 PM, Chris said:

I think it'd be happening enough that you wouldn't have to show anything if it was abstracted. In X2 UFOs inflict effects on a local region when they spawn anomalies (the little non-interactive Geoscape events that they spawn), and if they take damage every time they do that then I'm not sure we'd need to show anything except for the anomalies that already appear. We'd just need a way to tell the player at the start of the game that the UFOs are suffering damage from the air defences each time that happens.

I don't really need to see a graphical representation of the missile damage. Adding a single line to the bottom of those anomaly messages with a bit of semi randomised text might be enough. Something like 'UFO spotted scouting power plant, local military inflict heavy damage',  'Military base bombed by UFO, local guerrillas retaliate for light damage', 'UFO reported mutilating livestock, local civilians attack for minimal damage'. The messages could be weighted to give a good idea of the state of the conflict. In my examples the local forces descriptive term changes depending on the strength tier of the region. Maybe military > militia > guerrillas > civilians or whatever terms seem appropriate. 

I would like a log to be available though so you could look back through the event reports. You might be able to use them to make a decision on where to place your next base. if one region is holding out well you could choose to go there if you are struggling to make your battle easier or go elsewhere if they need your support.

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On 3/25/2019 at 2:27 AM, Gauddlike said:

I don't really need to see a graphical representation of the missile damage. Adding a single line to the bottom of those anomaly messages with a bit of semi randomised text might be enough. Something like 'UFO spotted scouting power plant, local military inflict heavy damage',  'Military base bombed by UFO, local guerrillas retaliate for light damage', 'UFO reported mutilating livestock, local civilians attack for minimal damage'. The messages could be weighted to give a good idea of the state of the conflict. In my examples the local forces descriptive term changes depending on the strength tier of the region. Maybe military > militia > guerrillas > civilians or whatever terms seem appropriate. 

I would like a log to be available though so you could look back through the event reports. You might be able to use them to make a decision on where to place your next base. if one region is holding out well you could choose to go there if you are struggling to make your battle easier or go elsewhere if they need your support.

First Post and all, had to come out of hiding after reading this topic as it was always something I felt would be nice and immersive.  I also struggled with shooting down ships in the beginning-mid game, something like having the region (if relations are positive, or the region isn't too damaged) send up a conventional fighter or interceptor to help out in the mini-game or improve the auto resolve chance (I use auto resolve almost exclusively). This can be scaled for difficulty, IE., it easy-mode an aircraft will always offer to assist as long as the region isn't too far gone, in Normal the fighter only offers assistance if the region isn't too far gone, your auto resolve chance is below X% and it either gives you an extra T1 fighter (maybe t2 after the tech starts to seep into the government's hands) or bumps up the auto resolve chance by X%.

I also wanted to mention I agree with the OP that I felt as if base placement should matter, but I just couldn't think of a meaningful way that I think everyone would enjoy. 

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On 1/13/2019 at 2:54 AM, Edmon said:

A note on my own skill level:
I've completed pretty much every decent strategy game on the hardest possible difficulty, that includes games like: XCOM (The originals, terror from the deep excepted as I never got into it), XCOM (The Remakes), Jagged Alliance (even the awful reloaded one), Panzer General, Peoples General, etc. Also, some hard realtime stuff like EUIV (One-tagged the world), Shogun II total war (Impossible Ironmanned it), etc. I also have a youtube where I do hardest possible turn based Ironman campaigns, though that is mostly battletech. If your interested in that or simply want to verify, you can find it at www.youtube.com/TheEdmon and I hope you enjoy it :).

You haven't played Laser Squad? Noob! :P I still dread that dog-like combat bot... but that was my 1st turn-based strategy, probably the 1st turn-based strategy ever. Played it on my C=64, PCs weren't well spread at that time yet. :)

You probably also haven't played Battle Isle 4: Incubation. I wouldn't say that was the hardest of them all - but definitely the most intellectually challenging. You can get it for free. :)

Final Fantasy Tactics... that was also a similar challenge, no random factor as I remember.

But yeah, if you ask me which were the best, I would say JA2 and UFO: Enemy Unknown.

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On 1/13/2019 at 2:54 AM, Edmon said:

What do you guys think?

Excellent thoughts, I could only second that. Too bad we probably won't see this happen in X-2: at the current stage as I see things, the current team won't be able to implement such a change within this year for sure. Maybe in X-3. :(

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On 1/27/2019 at 11:29 PM, Chris said:

This actually dovetails quite nicely with one of the other new mechanics we have, which is that a UFO will abandon its mission and disappear from the Geoscape (not creating a crash site) if it is reduced to 30% HP or less, but not shot down. In the early game this would naturally limit the amount of damage any given UFO can inflict on a region before it is forced to retreat, but if you let the aliens destroy the Air Defences in a region then it allows all the other UFO missions to operate for longer before they disappear (this matters less if you've got interceptor cover over the region that can shoot the UFOs down).

Hear, hear - Earth was full of AD sites even at the time of the cold war - oceans not so much, but you can't come 100 miles within a shore and they will fire at you if you're not identified, and have a radar signature. And if they launch fighters, those fire missiles too - so no need for anything fancy like drawing all those fighters. Just draw the "hot spots" (bases/SAMs/anything) as an area on the map, and if the UFO passes over, it takes damage with some minimal anim. Later the UFOs can begin to eradicate such spots - but they also have a learning curve, as we're similarly alien to them as they are to us!

And yeah, if I were an alien, I would return to base for repairs if I have sustained structural damage.

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I don't see the "snowball" as a problem. It's a rational, logical outcome of simply being good and improving.

 

With that said, the more the rest of the world (NPC's) are involved, the better.

One nice thing might be to be able to invest (send some weapons or armor) to a country and slowly start seeing their troops gets more equipment.

So basically, you can hoard things for yourself, or you can spread the love, which makes you weaker in the short term, but buffs some of your allies long-term.

 

 

@Chris - regarding geospace. You could simplify it and have NPC air combat hidden/approximated, or you can actually show it on geoscape fully, or just as an icon (air combat over X). I guess the idea is that NPC nations/militaries would send fighters up, and inform you when they cannot intercept, and ask you to pitch in. So UFO's being intercepted by NPC would be marked differently on the map.

Also, I guess there could a plane limit on NPC bases and a limited reinforcement and cooldown rate, so they cannot just keep sending craft up. A size 10 airfield can hold 10 fighters, with 2 lost aircraft replaced per month, with a repair cooldown of a week (each fighter tracked independently? The whole base?). Basically, keeping the number of airfields and numbers to crunch low, not that it's difficult for modern PC's, but purely to keep the simulation simple.

Airfields and friendly bases could be destroyed, in which case the NPC military would try to re-build them over time, starting with a smaller base that might grow each month, depending on how good/bad the nation is doing.

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Am I the only one who thinks geoscpae should be kinda cluttered?

I mean, showing the entire world during an alien invasion, it SHOULD look like all hell is breaking loose and you can barely keep track of anything.

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Yeah I think the standard geoscape is pretty empty and boring. At least the 1994 geoscape was a globe - which, if technically inferior, was a bit more interesting to look at. I don't think the visuals need to hit the bleeding edge of AAA gaming, but there is no reason to have a dull view - especially when so much of the art elsewhere in the game is nicely crafted.

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On 4/16/2019 at 2:05 PM, TrashMan said:

Am I the only one who thinks geoscpae should be kinda cluttered?

I mean, showing the entire world during an alien invasion, it SHOULD look like all hell is breaking loose and you can barely keep track of anything.

I agree with this.

I really like the idea of starting with 30-40 NPC RADAR sites (maybe 75% as effective as the starting XN bases at detecting UFOs in their area?) around the globe and maybe 12 air bases launching weak interceptors against UFOS... and having them slowly wink out over time as the Aliens slowly crush the weak NPC militaries. Some just go silent; some send out a "MAYDAY" call, which is ominously cut short; some succeed at repelling the attacks; some might even *appear* to repel the attacks but were compromised giving XN false info?

One idea about how to handle NPC combat/events is how XCOM: Apocalypse handled it, just giving a quick "news"/log blurb like "Megapol successfully raided Cult of Sirius site".

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9 hours ago, SusiSisu said:

30-40 NPC RADAR sites

did you say 30-40 NPC RADAR sites that you have the option to go raid if you want to make some extra cash on the side? Yup, with you on that one ;)

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i'd like to be able to take NPC &/or other allied units on missions, and have them function under AI.

the AI seems to play this game better than I can ;)

in a game such as the OP was describing, you could find yourself solo out on a mission with a bunch of allied NPC's all under AI control and that sounds pretty good to me..

..and the idea when [if] I get back to base I got no idea what's coming next.

right on! :cool:

 

 

 

 

 

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On ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2019 at 6:59 PM, Chris said:

Visualising the damage probably isn't impossible but it does add an extra level of complexity to the system. Where do these missiles come from? Presumably we'd have to place specific SAM sites on the map that they originate from?

Most air defenses today aren't static sam-sites, but vehicle mounted systems. They can move around and are not tied to a specific location. So no issue there.

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