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X2 Base Mechanics - Community Poll

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Something I’ve said repeatedly throughout the development of Xenonauts-2 is that the changes to the first game are experiments to be tested and evaluated, and discarded if they don't represent a clear improvement on what they replaced. After several months of testing, I've come to the conclusion that the single-base system isn't a clear improvement over the classic Xenonauts / X-Com base mechanics, and so we should revert to the classic mechanics.

However, we’ve been using the side-on base screen as a key piece of our promotional art for several years and a lot of people have given us money in that time. We therefore want to ask the views of the community on this issue – I suspect the community will be in favour of this change, but we don't know that for certain. To give your opinion, please answer the poll below: 

The detail of the changes and the reasoning behind them is explained below.

x1_multibase.jpgx2_singelbase.jpg 

Top View vs. Side View:
Reverting to the classic mechanics would also involve reverting the Base screen to a top-down view (left), rather than the current side-on view (right). We recently solved a technical problem that was making it impossible to generate the custom base defence tactical maps that mirror the layout of your base, so now we can have those cool X-Com style base defence missions. However, those maps obviously can’t be generated from a side-on base layout and therefore we’ll need to switch back to the top-down view to support this.

The other factor is that the top-down view better supports aircraft and Hangars. The single-base system doesn’t allow you to construct Hangars and house aircraft at your main base, but in the classic setup you would be able to and that causes several problems with a side-on view (connecting Hangars to the surface, side-on art for all the aircraft, etc).

Single-Base vs. Multi-Base:
Under the classic multi-base system all Xenonaut bases would be treated the same. All bases would appear on the Geoscape and posesss a 6x6 building grid onto which any structure can be placed. Radars and Hangars built on the grid define the detection range of the base and the aircraft that are housed there. Although there were advantages to the single-base setup (e.g. limiting the construction space available to player brought the space-efficiency of buildings into play) overall I think the freedom offered by the classic mechanics is fundamentally more interesting to most players.

One of the main reasons why we initially went for the single-base setup was to support other planned strategic mechanics, most of which have changed during developement and some have been dropped entirely. It's therefore now it's the multi-base setup that better supports the strategic mechanics (although some tweaks are still necessary as detailed below). For example, alien retaliation missions where UFOs seek out and attack your bases work better when you have “proper” bases were you can build defensive turrets and so forth, rather than the simpler airbases you get under the single-base system.

Classic Mechanics Changes:
Although broadly similar, the planned implementation of the multi-base system isn’t completely the same as the system in Xenonauts 1. Firstly, there two new features that already exist in X2 which will be retained in the move back to the classic mechanics:

  • Base Power: each base will need enough power capacity to operate all of its structures
  • Staff Assignments: certain structures beyond the standard Labs and Workshops require scientists / engineers to operate

We're also making a couple of simplifications to the mechanics in other areas.

  • Personnel and Base Stores are global across all bases (assume the bases are linked by alien-derived translocator gates)
  • The Xenonauts only have one troop dropship at a time

We may in the future implement these changes too, but they interact awkwardly with the new Strategic Operations mechanics and the upgrades we have planned for them ... and also just represent a lot of extra code and UI work for questionable gain. As such, we're going to leave them out for now and make a final decision on whether to include them later in development based on what form the rest of the game takes.

    So, those are the proposed changes - what do you think? Please vote in our poll to let us know how you feel about the change, even if you don't really care either way (there's an option for that!)

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    Posted (edited)

    Imo, a multi-base approach makes sense if an only if it's actually viable to have multiple bases with soldiers. It was not in X1. So I chose the third option.

    Global stores makes quite a bit of sense, since transfer costs are pretty low anyways, in most games non-global stores just mean you have to put all manufacturing in your main base.

    Edited by Bobit
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    I agree with Bobit. I can't really wrap my head around why it would be good to limit the player to one dropship. First of all, the possibility for multiple dropships exists in X1 already (and is useful in X-Division at least), second I want to lead a global (para-)military unsurgency operation, not a squad of comically overpowered popcorn cinema heros like in FiraXCOM, and multiple cells are definitely part of this, third I always find it bad if my decision space is artificially limited, and fourth it may make it harder for modders to take that limitation out again, so why not just allow it in the first place?

    The rest sounds sensible though. Energy need as a limiting factor for base growth sounds good, but I would also be okay with an energy-less system like X1, where money and the base size were limiting you. If the energy system does something unique there, go for it.

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    As I said, supporting multiple dropships like in X1 is something we may end up adding before development is done but it's a bigger task with more knock-on effects than most people realise so I don't want to tackle it right now. For example, it involves:

    • Quite a substantial code rewrite, as the code currently assumes that there's only ever one dropship
    • Some UI changes, because you'd need to specify which dropship to use each time you launch a ground mission
    • Potentially some changes to the Armory screen so you can manage soldier assignments to the dropship (although as soldiers aren't permanently assigned to dropships like they were in X1, this might not be too bad)

    More problematic would be not having a global pool of personnel, which would also be required if you want to have the full X1 system of only being able to assign soldiers to dropships stationed that the same base:

    • This makes the more in-depth building assignment system a bit of a pain, because you have to make sure the scientists / engineers you want to assign to a particular base are already in the correct base
    • You need an additional UI screen (or element) for shuffling staff between bases
    • Strategic Operations become much more awkward, because travel time is calculated from the closest base but obviously in that case you'd only be able to assign soldiers from that base to that strategic operation - which means you'd need to have more soldiers at each base, rather than having a group of operatives specialised for a particular task able to operate globally - which potentially runs the risk of making strategic operations an annoying exercise in micromanagement rather than something interesting
    • You've also got problems when a Strategic Operation recruits staff - what base do they go back to? What if the base where the team were dispatched from doesn't have any living capacity? etc

    Sure, we could work around these problems if we wanted to, but it would definitely be a lot of work. It's therefore not something I want to do as part of the main batch of changes as we don't yet know exactly how big a role the base staff assignment system or the strategic operations will play in the game. If we wait a few more months, some of the problems might solve themselves.

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    Im definitely an advocate for the multi-base system that includes interesting base defense. I will also say that I agree with the previous posters in the fact that being able to fly multiple drop ships (and with different pools of soldiers for each base) would be preferred. That being said, I do understand that there are design choices that make this game distinct from both X1 and the original xcoms that should make it stand apart (and I definitely understand the spirit crushing feeling of having to rip out chunks of code by the roots and desperately try and fit something else in there). 

    tldr: I agree with the previous posters, but I dont want any design changes to come at a cost to the rest of the development process

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    To be clear, I am FOR a global manpower pool of engineers, scientists and soldiers. It's just that I want the possibility to start dropships from different locations, or have different dropships with altering capabilities (at least through mods) in one base. I mean, the whole teleporting stuff is pretty handwavy to begin with (e.g. we have a 'porter in every base, why not in every major city?), but it is a good way to reduce the base management tedium.

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    Hi, 

    if you are already using. A "teleportation gate" these bases wouldnt need to have personel at all. just the gate itself and some automated defences.

    Launch a fighter or dropship through the gate and you have a much shorter way to intercept or land your troops.

    I personally like the top down base view. Esthetically side views are cool too but as you mentioned somewhat limiting in generating base defence missions.

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    Multiple bases with meaningful defences and chance of alien attack sounds more interesting to me. I also agree with earlier posts that if you can have multiple bases then it would feel out of place to be limited to only one dropship/squad. Even speaking as someone who rarely feels moved to have more than a single active team in X1 or earlier x-com games I would feel artificially limited by that.

    Also agree that a global pool of support personnel is fine. If you want housing to have an effect then each base just needs enough housing for the currently allocated support, everyone else is just passing through or offsite. 

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    2 minutes ago, Gauddlike said:

    Multiple bases with meaningful defences and chance of alien attack sounds more interesting to me. I also agree with earlier posts that if you can have multiple bases then it would feel out of place to be limited to only one dropship/squad. Even speaking as someone who rarely feels moved to have more than a single active team in X1 or earlier x-com games I would feel artificially limited by that.

    Also agree that a global pool of support personnel is fine. If you want housing to have an effect then each base just needs enough housing for the currently allocated support, everyone else is just passing through or offsite. 

    Im also ok with my engineers and scientist going home every night to their wives and kids

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    1 hour ago, Chris said:

    More problematic would be not having a global pool of personnel, which would also be required if you want to have the full X1 system of only being able to assign soldiers to dropships stationed that the same base:

    • This makes the more in-depth building assignment system a bit of a pain, because you have to make sure the scientists / engineers you want to assign to a particular base are already in the correct base
    • You need an additional UI screen (or element) for shuffling staff between bases
    • Strategic Operations become much more awkward, because travel time is calculated from the closest base but obviously in that case you'd only be able to assign soldiers from that base to that strategic operation - which means you'd need to have more soldiers at each base, rather than having a group of operatives specialised for a particular task able to operate globally - which potentially runs the risk of making strategic operations an annoying exercise in micromanagement rather than something interesting
    • You've also got problems when a Strategic Operation recruits staff - what base do they go back to? What if the base where the team were dispatched from doesn't have any living capacity? etc

    Sure, we could work around these problems if we wanted to, but it would definitely be a lot of work. It's therefore not something I want to do as part of the main batch of changes as we don't yet know exactly how big a role the base staff assignment system or the strategic operations will play in the game. If we wait a few more months, some of the problems might solve themselves.

    Ignoring the first part of Chris post for now as that is really down to him to decide if he thinks it's worthwhile.

    From the points above the first, second, and fourth can be removed by keeping a global pool of support staff. If your bases are all connected by alien gateways then being redeployed could be as simple as popping through the gate to your new office. If you want to keep housing as a limiting factor then just make each base have to support the current number of allocated support staff.

    The third point is interesting but could be worked around in the same way. If you can almost instantly travel from one base to another then the home base of a soldier only matters when that base is cut off from the network, for example when a base is attacked. Any other time your team can assemble from anywhere in any combination. The only limit would be what kind of transport is available in the closest base. 

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    Yeah, so this discussion sort of explains why we shouldn't try to implement multiple dropships right now - we need to nail down exactly what that means first.

    If the personnel that can be assigned to the dropship remain global, multiple dropships becomes a far simpler task (in some ways it's actually easier than having to special-case the existence of a single dropship but still allow it to be replaced if shot down etc), but I'm not sure everyone would consider that a valid implementation.

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    I think a half-implemented multi-base system would be the worst of both worlds, the less handwavium required for game mechanics the better. If you can generate a base defence map from a side-view, that actually sounds really fun. Imagine a desperate last stand at the deepest command centre as the aliens methodically push down from the surface through each level.

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    Hmm, the side view single base mechanic was growing on me a lot. It simplified my game play by not having to micro manage multiple bases. However with the top down view style of base management I can see the advantages there as well.

    Personally I can work with either but I slightly prefer the side view, especially if it will allow for multi tier base maps to defend, level by level kind of thing.

    As for single base vs multiple bases, my play style generally was one base full or research and one base full of manufacturing. Any others were effectively radars and runways. My main assault base would normally be my research base because when new techs are discovered for research, they are already at the labs, and the already searched stuff need for manufacturing had to be shipped. A single base mechanic simplifies that. But again I am kind of neutral on that too, it is not like X2 will not be heavily modded anyway not long after release.

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    The regional bases could be plan view as they would (mostly) be radar/scanning technology, a transit gate and a small group of assigned protectors 

     

    the main base (size view) could be where all the work is done and everyone (except local defence forces) is located. Aircraft could transit through the gate to regional bases to get to the closest launch point, so as to minimise transit. It would also mean that the main (side view) base doesn’t need runway connection as the aircraft/drop ship are launched through the gates to local bases with runways etc - your main (side view) base could have a runway structure, except it to is connected via the gate - makes for interest when power/connectivity is disrupted

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    There was never a good reason to have multiple dropships in X1, outfitting one squad with the latest tech is hard enough, outfitting two squads is near impossible without major sacrifices, and even then your splitting up experience.

    The viability of multi dropships in X1 mods is irrelevant.

    I personally would rather the best mechanic for the game be picked, if that be the classic base system or the X2 base system.

    The thing with multi bases, is most of them just become mini-bases akin to X2. Becoming figthter and radar bases, maybe with one or two dedicated bases for other reasons, but that's a stretch.

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    How about taking the best of both worlds.  Keep with the single base and current single drop-ship mechanics, but allow that base to be customized in a top down fashion.  The "side view" would give a summary of every level (and wouldn't have to have specific side view art, though there could be some dynamic aspect to it based on what the level contains if desired, i.e. if a level is mostly hangers, then there would be a hanger summary background art that is loaded for that level), and each level could be customized in the top-down approach.  The base would start with a depth of 1 and one 6x6 building grid to customize.  The second floor (depth = 2) would have a cost to dig it out, which would then open the player up to another 6x6 building grid to customize.  Each additional floor would have a higher cost associated to it, to help balance the added floor space.

    That would make an interesting mechanic with base defenses too (if possible) to have a multi-level fight.  i.e. as your base depth grows, the player could keep the important structures in the deeper floors and replace upper floors with defensive structures and the like.

    Side View:

    ------------------------------------------------------ Ground

    ----------- Level 1: Floor Summary ------------ Click on the level to view the floor plan (Floor plan would the current top-down view)

    ----------- Level 2: Floor Summary ------------ "

    - Button to start construction of next level -

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    I have to say, I do love basebuilding in the way it was done in X1 and XCOM: UFO Defense.

    I prefer the top view to the side view, even though the side view is pretty cool. Mostly because I love the idea of defending the base you built instead of just defending some strange base which you would need to do with the side view.

    I also like the idea with simple radar/fighter bases, just like you built in normal X1. With the new X2 system I found it felt easier and more managable to cover more of the world with radar. However, if the main base is too small, you might run out of space to manufacture things for your troops and craft (and to sell, good ol' fusion ball mechant strat).

     

    So here's what I'm thinking. Keep the top down view for the main base. Lots of building space would be nice so that you can build a massive main base. Then the side view could somehow be retained in the radar/fighterbases. They could use a sort of "elevator" to bring craft up to a launch pad / runway. So and you could upgrade the radar installation on top of the side view base, as well as add more hangar slots connected to the main craft elevator.

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    On 6/16/2019 at 11:17 AM, Chris said:

    We recently solved a technical problem that was making it impossible to generate the custom base defence tactical maps that mirror the layout of your base, so now we can have those cool X-Com style base defence missions. However, those maps obviously can’t be generated from a side-on base layout and therefore we’ll need to switch back to the top-down view to support this.

    May I ask - why can't these base defence maps be generated from a side-on base layout? You mention that this is obvious, but it doesn't seem obvious to me.

    I personally strongly prefer side-on base layout, but would like to keep base defence and multi-base support.

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    Posted (edited)

    Having played all the original x-com games (even Interceptor) and the new Firaxis games, I can say that I MUCH prefer top down base building.  Single base side view limits base building so much it may as well not even be in the game.  Additionally, I'm not sure how other people played X1, but as the difficulty was raised, I found myself needing more bases more urgently than on easy/normal.  Aliens become ruthless about rooting out your fire bases and shooting down dropships on the hardest difficulties and maybe i'm just not as skilled, but I always seemed to lose 1 dropship on Ironman no matter how safe I played it in late months as ships would pop out of areas with no radar.

    On the subject of base defence: X-Com games had multilevel alien bases, couldnt that same principle be used to make side view bases have multilevel maps to defend if we absolutely must have them?  Trying to squeeze X2 into the fancy looking hipster pants of the single-level-only Firaxis maps can only make X2 worse. Stick with what worked in X-Com!

    Edited by CheekyCT

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    I voted that you guys should decide what to do. I voted that because I am not in a position to say what will work better with how the game is turning out. I personally would like multiple bases if for nothing other than being able to suffer the loss of that base without the game ending.

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    58 minutes ago, Mirritil said:

    May I ask - why can't these base defence maps be generated from a side-on base layout? You mention that this is obvious, but it doesn't seem obvious to me.

    I personally strongly prefer side-on base layout, but would like to keep base defence and multi-base support.

    Well, the shooting (and camera) mechanics in the game are much better suited to fighting along a horizontal plane rather than a vertical one. Line of sight and shooting between different vertical levels is always a bit of a nightmare in this sort of game.

    Additionally, a side-on base view would lead to a map that was rather narrow ... a top-down base has no depth but plenty of length and width, whereas a side-on base would have plenty of length and depth but not much width. It'd be a lot like fighting in several corridors stacked on top of one another.

    So you're right that it wouldn't actually be impossible, but I think the results of a base map generated from a side-on layout would be a lot worse than one generated from a top-down layout.

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    Signed up to the forum just to reply to this thread because this is really important to me.

    One of my favorite features of Xenonauts 1 is the ability to send out multiple dropships at once to respond to multiple threats at the same time. It makes absolutely no sense to me in the XCOM reboots that you can only respond to one threat at a time when you have enough soldiers to cover everything. The global manpower pool is fine; just stick an alien-looking teleporter gate in the hangar on the base maps once you build your second base so players understand what's going on without breaking suspension of disbelief. I like having to manage everything separately but understand why people would rather it be global. But for the love of the stars, please allow sending out multiple simultaneous dropships.

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    To clarify - by "a multi-base approach" I didn't mean what we have currently in X2. Having mini-bases which are basically just interceptors + radars makes a lot of sense to me. But having the full base-building mechanics "multi-base approach" of X1 without actually making multi-dropship viable doesn't.

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