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Max_Caine

A few adjustments to starting weapons

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I've played Xenonauts over and over again for quite a while now. I've tried holding off modding it.. but.. I couldn't help myself. I've made a few small adjustments to the assault rifle and the LMG, as I'm dissatisfied with both. For the assault rifle, I've adjusted the cost for snap, normal and burst. The assault rifle can now fire more shots, which helps it compete with the shotgun. For the LMG, I've been experimenting with the number of shots. For the cost to shoot, 5 shots isn't enough, but 10 is too much. I've been see-sawing between 7-8, and I think 7 is a suitible number. If you're interested in trying out these changes, I've attached a zip. You have to replace the in-game files with the adjusted ones, so MAKE BACK UPS, and be aware that bug reports made on a game with modded files will make it harder for devs to fix problems. Here's a good example why you don't submit bugs on a modded game.  The files to change are in /Xenonauts 2/assets/assets/xenonauts/template/groundcombat/item/  then /weapon/ and /ammo/ respectively. 

MaxMiniMod.zip

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I was thinking that 5 with the LMG is too little. I was wondering if there could be another fire mode for the gun, one that uses 95% of your TU (enough to turn and shoot) but unleashes a full 10 rounds. That would place the LMG as more of a fixed gunner who could lock-down a cone of the map. 

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Posted (edited)

There are three "aim" modes, snap, normal, aimed and a "burst" mode. Like in X1, the number of shots a mode fires is independant of what the mode says it is, so it's entirely possible to introduce a "normal" mode which fires 7 shots, and a "burst" mode which fires 10. Like X1, it seems that the "aim" modes and the "burst" mode as names are hard-coded which is a bit weird as the coding clearly follows at least some OO principles so I would have thought that that instead names like "snap" or "normal", you would have something more like "firemode1", and a separate description name which would appear on the screen. But if you like we can mess around with the different fire modes for the LMG and see what works.

 

EDIT: Clearly I have to much time on my hands. Here's a sample LMG file, with a 7 and 10-shot mode.  

ballistic_lmg.json

Edited by Max_Caine
Added file

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Wow, this new mod support is super convenient ;) thanks. I'll give it a go, see if it can produce the desired effect of area denial.

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Nice. I should mention that I'm doing a pass on the balance myself in the dev version of the game at the moment with with the intention of making the gunplay a bit more like the original X-Com; basically this involves having slightly smaller maps, larger squads and making the aliens more deadly and less tough. This also includes rebalancing the rifles so auto fire becomes the dominant fire mode, although I've not yet worked through the full ramifications of that (might make the shotguns a bit weak). But it's cool we're getting to the point of the game where we can experiment with this sort of thing.

It's also worth noting that modding in X2 is easier and more flexible than in X1, but only if you have access to the dev JSON editor. All the weapons inherit from a master template so you'll probably find that some weapons just don't have entries for certain things, which is because they're just using the values on the master (each child template only saves out the differences between it and the master). The dev editor shows all the values on an object (inherited or non-inherited) and lets you edit them, and then just saves out an updated JSON based on your changes.

Until we make this publicly available I suspect editing the files directly will be a bit clunky, but we'll look at making it available in Early Access.

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The solution for shotguns being weak compared to spray-and-pray is to give them realistic accuracy- a modestly skilled shooter can get a 3-4 inch grouping with a smooth barrel at 50 yards; someone who practices several times a week using a rifled barrel should be regularly hitting targets at 75 yards. Shot is going to be somewhat less accurate, but even birdshot is effective at ranges of 30 yards.

 

The standard of making shotguns basically melee weapons is why they are subpar compared to rifles.

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When it comes to human guns, balancing shouldn't be hard. You already know the averages for real work guns in terms of RoF. Assuming one "standard" attack is 1 second, you can easily extrapolate from there.

And we know modern assault rifles generally have 3 or 4-shot burts.

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2 hours ago, TrashMan said:

When it comes to human guns, balancing shouldn't be hard. You already know the averages for real work guns in terms of RoF. Assuming one "standard" attack is 1 second, you can easily extrapolate from there.

And we know modern assault rifles generally have 3 or 4-shot burts.

And then you'd have a setup where assault rifles are by far the best weapon in almost every situation, which is exactly why the vast majority of modern soldiers use assault rifles and other weapons are relatively uncommon. I'd rather have the game balanced around what makes a fun game rather than realism for the sake of realism.

3 hours ago, Decius said:

The solution for shotguns being weak compared to spray-and-pray is to give them realistic accuracy- a modestly skilled shooter can get a 3-4 inch grouping with a smooth barrel at 50 yards; someone who practices several times a week using a rifled barrel should be regularly hitting targets at 75 yards. Shot is going to be somewhat less accurate, but even birdshot is effective at ranges of 30 yards.

 

The standard of making shotguns basically melee weapons is why they are subpar compared to rifles.

Then shotguns do already have roughly the right range compared to rifles in the game; obviously ranges are massively compressed in an X-Com game by necessity. But by the figures you've quoted it sounds like a shotgun has 1/3 to 1/4 of the effective range of a rifle, which is roughly what it has in the game already?

The alternative is just to take some weapons out of the game, and then there's more space for each of the remaining weapons to be more true to their real-world capabilities. If we dropped the LMG and Sniper Rifle then the shotgun and assault rifle can both fill a more realistic role, but I suspect that's a route most people would rather we didn't explore.

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2 hours ago, Chris said:

And then you'd have a setup where assault rifles are by far the best weapon in almost every situation, which is exactly why the vast majority of modern soldiers use assault rifles and other weapons are relatively uncommon. I'd rather have the game balanced around what makes a fun game rather than realism for the sake of realism.

Then shotguns do already have roughly the right range compared to rifles in the game; obviously ranges are massively compressed in an X-Com game by necessity. But by the figures you've quoted it sounds like a shotgun has 1/3 to 1/4 of the effective range of a rifle, which is roughly what it has in the game already?

The alternative is just to take some weapons out of the game, and then there's more space for each of the remaining weapons to be more true to their real-world capabilities. If we dropped the LMG and Sniper Rifle then the shotgun and assault rifle can both fill a more realistic role, but I suspect that's a route most people would rather we didn't explore.

Yes, it would be comparable if rooms weren't the size of a football stadium that soldiers had to sprint most of the way across in a fraction of a second to get into shotgun range. The rifles and sniper rifles feel right in an open field or other exterior because of the compression of scale expected in exterior environments, but the interior environments use the same size of tile to represent a very different scale.

 

If you gave the sniper rifle an anti-armor role, made the assault rifle aimed shot hit at least as far as the sight range, and then made shotguns drop off at roughly the size of the biggest room while firing faster than rifles, you'd still have them pretty distinct.

If you can adjust the cover block percentage according to the attacking weapon, that would be even more interesting; a sniper rifle that cost more to fire but negated low cover entirely would fill a different role even if the service rifle also had a range of 'bigger than the map', and the LMG could be made generally more effective if even low cover provided decent protection from it.

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I would also like to see the LMG receive a different role: lower accuracy and higher rate of fire, ideal for suppression. But if snipers are going to penetrate low cover, then that completely changes the defensive landscape. It might make more sense to have penetration based on cover type (high/low cover, hard/soft cover). Whilst interesting, I'm not sure it would balance. Unless combat were made more deadly all round - working on a premise that engagements don't last longer than a turn or two. That way, a sniper blasting through cover wouldn't be OP in comparison to your medium-range shotgun. That could also carve a niche for nimble SMGs at the shorter range. In fact, sidearms as a whole aren't really functional as it stands; they're only really a Hail Mary when your enemy is on low health, your primary is empty, you're out of grenades and you happen to be super close (at that point, you may as well have a throwing knife).

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So, in terms of gameplay, the shotgun as it stands in X2 is a very good weapon. It's a good weapon because every shot is four simultaneous shots, that means there are four chances to hit every time a squaddie pulls the trigger, and the squaddie can pull the trigger 2-3 times in a row. Even though the chance to-ht per pellet is relatively small, the shotgun stands a good chance of hitting per shot at least once. This is why I made the adjustments that I did to the assault rifle. It could not compete with the shotgun. With the prior stats, you could get 2-3 shots using snap/normal, a burst of 3 with burst, or 1 with aimed. And that's it. Snap/normal you were likely to miss, aimed you were still fairly likely to miss especially with starting troopers, and the payoff for hitting with a single assault rifle bulet isn't the same as hitting with 2-3 shotgun pellets. Prior to my changes, it was better for me to run like a madman towards the enemy and engage them at close range or better yet, wait for them to come to me and hit them with solid overwatch fire. But by making snap/normal and burst cheaper, the assault rifle can put more shots downrange at a longer distance than the shotgun can. The assault rifle is now handier than the shotgun at longer distances, but is still more likely to miss than the 4-pellet shotgun, so equilbrium is restored. I think people need to stop thinking "realistically". It's unesscessary. Gameplay is all that matters. 

 

EDIT: How did the LMG changes work out?

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23 hours ago, Chris said:

And then you'd have a setup where assault rifles are by far the best weapon in almost every situation, which is exactly why the vast majority of modern soldiers use assault rifles and other weapons are relatively uncommon. I'd rather have the game balanced around what makes a fun game rather than realism for the sake of realism.

Assault rifles are generalist weapons, which is why they are the most numnerous.

Shotguns and SMG's are better for room clearing/corridor fighting - this why they are used by SWAT/Commandos on such missions.

LGM's are for supression/crowd control.

The point I'm making is the reason other weapons are less common is practicality - an assault rifles will preform well against most enemies at most ranges. This does not make them worse. They each have their role. And trying to force everything to be equal is silly.

If I'm fighting in the wood or open terrain, assult rifles and snipers would make the bulk of my armament.

Indoors? Shotguns and SMG's.

Why would an equal distribution of weapons even be desirable?

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16 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

So, in terms of gameplay, the shotgun as it stands in X2 is a very good weapon. It's a good weapon because every shot is four simultaneous shots, that means there are four chances to hit every time a squaddie pulls the trigger, and the squaddie can pull the trigger 2-3 times in a row. Even though the chance to-ht per pellet is relatively small, the shotgun stands a good chance of hitting per shot at least once. This is why I made the adjustments that I did to the assault rifle. It could not compete with the shotgun. With the prior stats, you could get 2-3 shots using snap/normal, a burst of 3 with burst, or 1 with aimed. And that's it. Snap/normal you were likely to miss, aimed you were still fairly likely to miss especially with starting troopers, and the payoff for hitting with a single assault rifle bulet isn't the same as hitting with 2-3 shotgun pellets. Prior to my changes, it was better for me to run like a madman towards the enemy and engage them at close range or better yet, wait for them to come to me and hit them with solid overwatch fire. But by making snap/normal and burst cheaper, the assault rifle can put more shots downrange at a longer distance than the shotgun can. The assault rifle is now handier than the shotgun at longer distances, but is still more likely to miss than the 4-pellet shotgun, so equilbrium is restored. I think people need to stop thinking "realistically". It's unesscessary. Gameplay is all that matters. 

 

EDIT: How did the LMG changes work out?

I would need to start at a range of about 9 tiles or less to expect to hit with 2-3 shotgun pellets if I fired as much as possible (2 snap,1 normal shot at 21/38% to hit, 3.2 expected hits) against a target in the open. If I start that close, it would be better to close to 3 or 4 tiles away and fire two snap shots at 57% or 45% for 4.56 or 3.6 expected hits with less variation, or all the way to melee range for one shot at 81% to hit for a 3.2 expected with an 83% chance of 3+ hits.

I think at a range of 'across the room' (4 tiles), it should be more likely to hit with all four pellets than to hit with only 2 on a given shot. But at four tiles, the odds listed for a snap/normal shot are 45/62%, giving odds of 0/1/2/3/4 shots hitting of 9/29/36/20/4 for a snap shot and 2/13/33/36/15 for an aimed shot; you are between two and nine times more likely to hit with two pellets (likely not a kill) than to hit with four (almost certainly a kill), from across a small room.

 

The only places in 4.1 where the shotgun is better than the rifle are

1:where you need to charge one or two enemies to negate their cover, and have a closable door and wall within about 6 tiles of their cover

2: When you can bait the aliens around a blind corner or through an open door, and have cover within 4 tiles of the other side of the ambush.

 

Case 1 happens often enough when breaching a UFO, because the aliens will be in cover and many UFOs are very small. It does require that you have several people with lots of flashbangs to suppress the room before charging in, but that's why flashbangs exist, and you can give them to people who aren't rushing in. But the shotgun there is performing the same role that the knife should be.

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23 hours ago, Decius said:

Yes, it would be comparable if rooms weren't the size of a football stadium that soldiers had to sprint most of the way across in a fraction of a second to get into shotgun range. The rifles and sniper rifles feel right in an open field or other exterior because of the compression of scale expected in exterior environments, but the interior environments use the same size of tile to represent a very different scale.

Yeah, that's actually a very good point. I'd not really considered that.

It's interesting to see the number crunching go on in this thread anyway and there's some interesting ideas there for how to differentiate the weapons, like snipers ignoring cover etc. It's possible that we could split out the accuracy formula a little more too so there's a flat element of the weapon accuracy, as I guess it's a bit limiting that everything except proximity is affected equally by the soldier's Accuracy. It might be interesting if weapons like the shotgun had a higher base accuracy but gained less bonus from the soldier Accuracy, whereas the Rifle or Sniper Rifle might require a higher Accuracy soldier to use effectively.

I'll check back when I've got a bit more free time and think things through in a bit more detail.

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Why not give the shotgun more pellets per shot? Unless I'm mistaken, they use way more than 4.

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The word "pellet" in this case is something of a misnomer. What it refers to is what would otherwise be called a bullet in other weapon systems. The shotgun fires 4 of these at once. Experiments with more than 4 turn the shotgun into something more like a blunderbuss or streetsweeper. 

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If the trajectory of each bullet is independent of each other, I could see that being the case.

 

And there is room for a blunderbuss and a street sweeper; a melee-range weapon like the shotgun with a fire mode with even lower accuracy (say, 45% at two tiles and 30% at 3-5) but with a three-burst fire mode, for when you have multiple tough enemies right in your face, or want to open a wall.

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20 hours ago, Decius said:

when you have multiple tough enemies right in your face, or want to open a wall

yes, I too have a wish list including a weapon that can shoot adjacent enemies at the same time. The spray and pray room-clearer. I guess the rocket launcher filled that niche before, but it would be nice for an automatic weapon to have a similar function when near point-blank range. Arc firing with the LMG. Although I don't doubt the people on the forum who actually know about guns will correct me that such uses of a firearm aren't realistic. I guess what I'm hankering for are weapons that are fun.

You ever play Halo? The gravity hammer is ridiculous. Even sillier than that gun that fires floaty-explodey pink needles. But I don't think I've ever had such fun or satisfaction in a game as when launching enemies skywards. Well, I guess that is what mods are for.

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22 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

The word "pellet" in this case is something of a misnomer. What it refers to is what would otherwise be called a bullet in other weapon systems. The shotgun fires 4 of these at once. Experiments with more than 4 turn the shotgun into something more like a blunderbuss or streetsweeper. 

Just model a shotgun properly. It will find its niche. The whole point of a shotgun is to fill the air with lots of stuff at once.

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13 hours ago, TrashMan said:

Just model a shotgun properly

What you're arguing makes sense, but for it to work you have to model everything else properly: which is a big ask. It is a game, not a simulator. Although, there is a fair amount of support around here for a lean towards realism.

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I hope that a paramilitary force isn't using birdshot. If they are, it would be better to model that as either a single bullet or as 40 or so.

But the right projectile to use as a core case is probably not a slug (since that makes it functionally the same as a rife). Buckshot, Tri-ball (three balls to the shell, hence the name) or the Malay load (a slug and some buckshot in the same shell, allegedly named for their use in Malaysia).

Since relatively few people are familiar with mixed-size projectiles in shells, I'd leave that to the modders (but perhaps write in support for bullets in a burst to not be identical). Tri-ball is the closest easily available load to what is in the current branch, and people claim to have hand-sized groupings at 40 yards with it.

 

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"Modeling properly" in this context means to make it work as intended. You don't really need super-accurate simulations for that, just approximations.

And unless I'm mistaken, in Xenonauts 2 every projectile is fired in a cone and the hits and collisions are calculated (as it should be), which means shotgun should work properly with minimal effort

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10 hours ago, TrashMan said:

And unless I'm mistaken, in Xenonauts 2 every projectile is fired in a cone and the hits and collisions are calculated (as it should be), which means shotgun should work properly with minimal effor

From what I've seen, not really. If it was like that, for example blocking propabilites would not be independend (for example if there are 2 chest high boxes directly behind each other, in a realistic simulation, if the projectlile passed the first box, it would be more unlikely to hit the second, because it is mostly covered by the first).

There is a basic hit probability calcuated based on weapon, fire mode and distance to enemy. This can modified by a fixed per-enemy modifier (the half high psyon engineers are manually set up to be harder to hit for example). Finally, the game checks for obstacles in the path between attacker and enemy. Each obstacle has a fixed blocking chance value (aforementioned chest high boxes have 30%, complete walls have 100%, the forklift has 50% etc).

The game displays these probabilities beforehand and for each projectile is made a dice-roll based on the probabilities what is going to happen to it.

It is fun in the game because you see all hit chances before firing and can plan accordingly, but has some completely unrealistic consequences. For example the games does not differentiate if the projectile missed because of spread or bad aim. So better aim stat kind of means magic reduction of shotgun projectile spread. Another example is that lower spread should mean less blocking chance in reality and more body parts behind cover (ducking) should mean more blocking chance. But it's not working like this.

I imagine it would theoretically be possible to calculate all the probabilites based on a cone in the 3D game world. But I think this would basically be a completely new feature and I don't know if the developers at any point thought about implementing such thing.

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21 hours ago, wulf 21 said:

I imagine it would theoretically be possible to calculate all the probabilites based on a cone in the 3D game world.

From what I understand, this leads to its own problems. Well, that is not surprising. I mean that the problems it leads to are, I think, quite odd ones that make playing the game a bit counter intuitive in terms of lining up shots.

I think that you have to game compromises for the gameplay, partly in terms of fun (yes shotguns should turn enemies into red mist when fired at close range) but also in terms of feasibility (what do the mechanics of simulation allow).

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