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Coffee Potato

Shields, A Thought

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So when it comes to Shields, it always made me wonder how they just degraded to nothing, surely some things would just bounce off harmlessly, right?

So it got me wondering, why not have Shields just grant near immunity to certain damages, instead of being a health bar? Or, why not let them break if overwhelmed, but regain some lost durability to half or so next round? 

This is another "here's how XDiv did it" moment, but Shields feel so much more believable when they can actually take a few hits.

A couple versions:

X-Div had variants with 150-270-450 go for different phases, with different sizes, the heaviest of which could fit in the back pack, but prevented the unit from doing much of anything aside from blocking or using smoke. Super handy for holding positions and being portable cover, at the cost of next to no damage out of them. 

Armored Core had a few versions, but 5th gen had the best Shields, with each type having durability, but providing near complete immunity to a certain damage type from the front. Even with relatively light weight, and the option to use several Shields at once, the lack of offense generally still relegated them to tank or scout roles online, but they felt awesome. 

XCOM WOTC had a Shields mod that essentially gave someone a small amount of ablative health every round, up to a Max of 5 or so, but also gave them situational cover. Good for newcom, but a small shield Regen pool can work.

There's a couple of really good Tactics Ogre mods that accidentally came to the same ideas years apart. Namely smaller Shields that improved Dodge chances, but didn't boost defenses (damage threshold in that case), and gave a chance to avoid melee damage, and large Shields, which improved damage resistance, and had a chance to negate ranged damage. Both felt fantastic in the chaos that is TO.

Please consider adding more depth to Shields, they are often underloved, and one of the identifying things about xeno in my book.

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It's the same discussion as for armour, really - whether armour acts as bonus HP or resistance against certain types of damage (or a combo of both) is up for debate, because there's advantages and negatives to each. There's some situations where a HP value makes much more sense and others where resistances make much more sense.

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On 8/29/2019 at 6:25 PM, Chris said:

It's the same discussion as for armour, really - whether armour acts as bonus HP or resistance against certain types of damage (or a combo of both) is up for debate, because there's advantages and negatives to each. There's some situations where a HP value makes much more sense and others where resistances make much more sense.

From a design perspective, what do you think of the way XDiv implemented armor? Namely taking the existing mechanics turning everyone into a low key Andron, with a mix of initially high resistance to a couple of things, which then gets shaved off with 1/3 of all incoming damage? For that matter, they gave close quarters weapons a chance to hit enemy TUs, which also worked remarkably well, but that's it's own thing.

Point being, let's say you have a team in Wolf, which had variants per tier in that one. They go in with really good kinetic resistance (as per the description), to the point where easily 5-10 ballistic shots (On New Game +) will usually just bounce off or plink. They can take 2-3 low powered lasers, but would still take full damage from fire, electric and acid. This lent to a really cool feeling of your units getting super raggedy with those shots that god through, which, in my opinion, increased tension dramatically when you have to trust their armor to do it's job, rather than hope they can survive the plink. It becomes this other hidden resource, but unlike shields, you don't know how much is left, you don't know what damage they rolled, and they easily could die as easily to the next rifle shot as they would survive several more hits.

Additionally, the higher armor all around meant that tanks could sit in the open, or provide mobile cover. It was this awesome feeling when you'd have 2 power armor guys walking and taking autocannon and minigun shots out from behind a tank, while stun rocket guys in the back finished off the ones they suppressed. I feel like the universally heavier armor lent a lot to your units feeling like they were supporting each other morale-wise, and this was bolstered a lot by the morale mechanics I've posted about before. 

The mod may not be perfect, or for everyone, but man, oh man does it have some fantastic mechanical ideas that feel great. 

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To a certain degree it's a thematic decision; do you want armored characters to be able to shrug off attacks except for the one that kills them instantly, or do you want them to take gradual damage?

But walking in the open and trusting on armor to protect you is suicide if there is any anti-armor in play.

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1 hour ago, Decius said:

To a certain degree it's a thematic decision; do you want armored characters to be able to shrug off attacks except for the one that kills them instantly, or do you want them to take gradual damage?

But walking in the open and trusting on armor to protect you is suicide if there is any anti-armor in play.

That's what I mean. By phase 3 (of 4), your Wolf units can usually take ballistic small arms well, lasers decently, but Sebillians use a mix of Ballistic AND Fire, meaning one just goes straight to hp, you can only rely on it with scouting info. Ceseans bring laser, stun, and electric while carrying shields, which can easily KO your guys if they get close. Androns run a mix of everything generally, and take a LOT of punishment except for EMP damage. This pairs with some enemies having multiple armor layers, such as the Fan-Named Onion Chrysallid (The Roboreaper Class).

Point being, it's more about being able to adjust your defenses appropriately to make moves, while still keeping that scary feeling of shots from anywhere. It makes organization and coordination a bigger focus ultimately. 

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It is always about having options, with a mix of amour and fire power, Light amour for scouts, medium amour for riflemen, and Heavey amour for support, and or close in melee soldiers.

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15 hours ago, Coffee Potato said:

That's what I mean. By phase 3 (of 4), your Wolf units can usually take ballistic small arms well, lasers decently, but Sebillians use a mix of Ballistic AND Fire, meaning one just goes straight to hp, you can only rely on it with scouting info. Ceseans bring laser, stun, and electric while carrying shields, which can easily KO your guys if they get close. Androns run a mix of everything generally, and take a LOT of punishment except for EMP damage. This pairs with some enemies having multiple armor layers, such as the Fan-Named Onion Chrysallid (The Roboreaper Class).

Point being, it's more about being able to adjust your defenses appropriately to make moves, while still keeping that scary feeling of shots from anywhere. It makes organization and coordination a bigger focus ultimately. 

I was referring to the idea that tanks could go in the open and serve as cover for others.

Even literal tanks have to protect their sides and rear and top and bottom.

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20 hours ago, Decius said:

I was referring to the idea that tanks could go in the open and serve as cover for others.

Even literal tanks have to protect their sides and rear and top and bottom.

True, but they tend to handle fire at least somewhat OK. I know this is largely from attempting a lot of Ironman/Insane runs, but I always wound up just using Hunters more than the other tanks, because of being comparatively easy to replace. Seeing a scimitar get taken out by one guy with a rifle beyond sight range always kinda bummed me out. In XDiv, I've regularly been using them as proper cover, using teams of shield units to guard their sides, while they laughed at frontal damage a good bit of the time.

Having armor options for tanks felt great too, you had your modest armor/hp scouts and truck units (Hunter/Seeker), high armor, ok hp, but MG only heavy tanks(Scimitar), and the more generalized armor, but cannon useable medium tanks (Siege). So if it's against Ceseans, a suppression tank like the Scimmy will do the job, while having a rocket spammer on Terror Missions or open maps can work as an amazing "oh crap" button. The Siege I've only recently gotten, and a little late at that, but it's like a tank that can either destroy cover or be a semi reliable sniper while serving as a meat shield. Feels great to have options. (I haven't even gotten to the mechs and such yet)

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Thank offer support to the infantry, and infantry keep enemy infantry from the flanks of the tanks, mutual support!

 

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On ‎8‎/‎30‎/‎2019 at 12:25 AM, Chris said:

It's the same discussion as for armour, really - whether armour acts as bonus HP or resistance against certain types of damage (or a combo of both) is up for debate, because there's advantages and negatives to each. There's some situations where a HP value makes much more sense and others where resistances make much more sense.

All Armor (in theory) works the same - by trying to absorb/deflect/disperse incoming energy. Both shields and body armor should have their own status. If the incoming energy is lower than it's treshhold, then the shield/armor generally take little to no damage. If it's above, they get damaged (but would still reduce damage the wearer/user takes), and the protection they offer lessens.

Completely destroying the body armor/shield is bloody unlikely - you merely create holes/weakneses. So while I wouldn't have it break unless under super-specific circumstances (insane amount of damage, like getting hit by a tank), but have it degrade to a minium value (let's say 50%).

I really want to see individual armor part tracking - front chest, back, left/right arm, left/right leg ,head

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3 hours ago, TrashMan said:
3 hours ago, TrashMan said:

All Armor (in theory) works the same - by trying to absorb/deflect/disperse incoming energy. Both shields and body armor should have their own status. If the incoming energy is lower than it's treshhold, then the shield/armor generally take little to no damage. If it's above, they get damaged (but would still reduce damage the wearer/user takes), and the protection they offer lessens.

Completely destroying the body armor/shield is bloody unlikely - you merely create holes/weakneses. So while I wouldn't have it break unless under super-specific circumstances (insane amount of damage, like getting hit by a tank), but have it degrade to a minium value (let's say 50%).

I really want to see individual armor part tracking - front chest, back, left/right arm, left/right leg ,head

Directional tracking might be in there, since tanks use it, no idea on Xeno2 though. So far, XDiv has nailed the armor feeling in my book. It doesn't degrade by much from most shots, meaning you need things like miniguns, shotguns or cannons to really "shred" armor. Rarely if ever does armor integrity fall apart without making sense, and most of the time it bounces off the damage it should (Only Ballistic/Laser go down, fire and chemical resistance is always the same).

 

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On 9/5/2019 at 1:10 AM, TrashMan said:

All Armor (in theory) works the same - by trying to absorb/deflect/disperse incoming energy. Both shields and body armor should have their own status. If the incoming energy is lower than it's treshhold, then the shield/armor generally take little to no damage. If it's above, they get damaged (but would still reduce damage the wearer/user takes), and the protection they offer lessens.

Completely destroying the body armor/shield is bloody unlikely - you merely create holes/weakneses. So while I wouldn't have it break unless under super-specific circumstances (insane amount of damage, like getting hit by a tank), but have it degrade to a minium value (let's say 50%).

I really want to see individual armor part tracking - front chest, back, left/right arm, left/right leg ,head

"Breaking" armor doesn't mean that the armor is evaporated, any more than breaking cover means the cover is evaporated. It would be sufficient to pulverize strong ceramic plates into dust, or start spalling a hard plate.

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I think the overall concern I have with making armour too much about degradation rather than protection is that good players often don't suffer many hits during the course of a mission. I find X-Com loses some of its magic if you *know* that a unit can take a hit without dying, and they're only in the dangerzone once they've already been hit once. You've usually got enough soldiers that you can rotate them to ensure minimal casualties if that's the case.

I do also like the idea of having a badly damaged soldier (or soldiers) fighting an enemy, knowing that their armour could fail at any moment .... but that sort of mechanic tends to work better either if the enemy massively outnumber you so you're regularly taking small amounts of damage, or if the combat system means that even unarmoured units aren't usually aren't killed in a single hit (something like Battle Brothers). But X-Com is more about powerful weapons capable of killing instantly.

XCOM starts that way too, but then transitions into a game where the aliens massively outnumber you and your units can expect to take multiple shots in a mission simply because of that. That doesn't really happen in Xenonauts because you get quite a few troops once the larger dropships start to arrive.

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It's plausible to have it both ways- a small number of technobabble cannons that leave holes in anything that they hit, and several other weapons that are faster and perhaps more accurate but easier to deflect or absorb.

 

 

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I'm not sure I agree with that sentiment Chris.

While there is some luck/change factor, that's generally how armor works. You KNOW what it can usually take. You know modern kevlar will stop handgun rounds (unless you're using a hand cannon). If the armor is hit of course. If you hit in the face, that's a different matter. That is also why I prefer a more proper was of hit detection and shooting. ACTUAL bullet trajectories, actual collision detection, actual cones of fire, actual obstacles. Proper consequences (got hit in the arm? well, the soldier survived, but the armor is thinner there. Arm is unusuable, weapon dropped).

But I digress.. What's the point of armor otherwise if the alien with a laser gun can hit in my 1 kill almost as easily as he could if I was naked? All the time and resources spent to make that armor and all that extra weight I'm lugging around. It has to be worth it. 5% more chance to survive a hit definitely isn't.

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"Chance  to be oneshot even in armor" is not too fun. Unstoppable bleed is. The damage isn't totally stopped until you make it to the ER. Permanent wounds / bravery loss are pretty cool too.

Also, I'm always surprised how much a single anti-armor weapon makes it unviable to scout with armor. You simply can't manually open the front UFO door in X-division; what if they have a flamer who oneshots your shield guy? But confirming that the area is clear of anti-armor troops, and then sending your armored troops in, always feels fun and dynamic.

I think Chris has a lower view of tanks (and armored units) in these games than most of us, because the vanilla implementation was not too great. But X-Div and FMP prove that they can indeed have an interesting role, though they are more difficult to balance. Ultimately whatever Chris decides is probably what he will  be able to balance the best. And modders can always decide something different.

Edited by Bobit

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6 hours ago, TrashMan said:

That is also why I prefer a more proper was of hit detection and shooting. ACTUAL bullet trajectories, actual collision detection, actual cones of fire, actual obstacles. Proper consequences (got hit in the arm? well, the soldier survived, but the armor is thinner there. Arm is unusuable, weapon dropped).

Sounds a lot like Phoenix Point. There's a lot of room for improvement on their hit detection, and it creates the odd emergent feature that some very heavily armored enemies are best handled by destroying their weapon and inflicting any amount of bleed.

It does feel nice to have your sniper pull out their sidearm and make several precise shots to counter an enemy at close range, or to get into a flanking position and take out an arm holding a shield, but it's a different niche of Laser Squad than the survival horror/HFY niche.

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There's no reason why it couldn't work in xenonauts. Other tactical squad games tried many approaches. I'll bring up the LEGENDARY Jagged Alliance 2 as a great example.

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I really liked the Phobia system X2 put in, rather than perma loss on bravery. 

Armor wise, I should clarify that in XDiv, it's usually like the case mentioned above. Some units have high DPS weapons that will initially be stopped by armor, while others can kill outright. Like in Phase 3 right now, here are a couple missions:

Mission 1, first intriduction to the next phase. My top 3 guys step out with miniguns and Predator suits. They are immediately ambushed. my top guy goes down (Blood Cannon, a chemical AoE gun), while the others and their rookie trainees get into positions around the dropship, hoping to drop some Shock Rockets on whatever just sniped him. One unit takes KO damage from an electric gun, and goes unconscious (Predator doesn't handle electric damage well, neither do shields). The others take some plink damage from wave and ballistic rifles coming from the background infantry. The Blood cannon takes out 2 more, while the tank drives up to shield the others from everything else. We eventually get almost everyone back to the drop ship, but still, the A-Team of 10 in the best gear we had and a tank (for 11) still got shredded by a team of what turned out to be 6 or so. Since armor degradation goes both ways, the team was pinned down and suppressed by the Rifles, damaged by the big guns, and pressured by the other small arms and melee units, who were there doing scratch damage and blocking paths, but progress was still difficult, because their armor had to be worn down, which took a lot of our firepower, limiting turns to only being able to stop 1 or 2 units, while needing to focus on locking down the rest. Ultimately, whether more or less units (depending on the mission), there's a lot more "Let's stop and have a think here" time. 
https://youtu.be/aK5__O3QaZI?t=493

The Previous mission was against a carrier. 11 Vs around 60 Ceseans. In XDiv, they come with 600 HP foward shields, 1 handed weapons, and still pretty decent armor. Immediately, we drop out of the shrike, and start getting pounded by fire from out of sight range, as one would expect from end game. The shield guys run out, and while I know they will be able to take a couple shots, they won't last for long, even with  shields of their own. What results is this crazy thing where these shield guys are running cover to cover, throwing out smoke, while rookies fire stun rockets in the vague direction of incoming fire, and the gunners all file behind the tank to push into the wall of huge beams coming their way. Ceseans start taking 2-3 rockets each, which are used primarily to get past their shields, allowing us to use them. It was this insane thing of constant attack and defense from all sides, showcasing so many mechanics I've loved about this game since vanilla. 

https://youtu.be/eHWeVNbRzpA?t=12168

It creates this sort of evolving feeling, since your units are mostly dying like normal in Phase 1, then have specialized armor against only certain things by 2, followed by almost matching their armor in 3, but then effectively seeing that armor stripped very quickly by 4, since cannons start tearing off halves of buildings, machineguns are throwing around cars, etc. It matches the scaling that X1 did, but makes it more believable given peoples' adaptive capabilities, and what an ultra powerful, if kinda lazy super invasion came by for a visit. While at first glance, this may seem like it invalidates certain weapon options, I genuinely have changed between almost all classes for different situations almost constantly. Even rifles, which some have stated as being underwhelming, have saved this campaign on several occasions. 

TLDR: When there's explosions everywhere, it's natural that people would have a way to survive them. Easiest case scenario, can we at least get a boom reducing armor?

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1 hour ago, Coffee Potato said:

My top 3 guys step out with miniguns and Predator suits. They are immediately ambushed. my top guy goes down (Blood Cannon, a chemical AoE gun), while the others and their rookie trainees get into positions around the dropship, hoping to drop some Shock Rockets on whatever just sniped him. One unit takes KO damage from an electric gun, and goes unconscious (Predator doesn't handle electric damage well, neither do shields). The others take some plink damage from wave and ballistic rifles coming from the background infantry. The Blood cannon takes out 2 more, while the tank drives up to shield the others from everything else. We eventually get almost everyone back to the drop ship, but still, the A-Team of 10 in the best gear we had and a tank (for 11) still got shredded by a team of what turned out to be 6 or so.

The thing I noticed is that only the aliens had powerful weapons where any given shot mattered a lot. There was a distinct lack of any kind of human armor-piercing tech among all of the rockets, despite the launchers which should have been able to fire penetrators but which appeared to only have large area denial munitions that weren't effective against the enemies targeted, despite literally every alien being so heavily armored that they weren't shot to death so much as eroded.

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You can also have more than one system, A reduced chance to be hit (stealth tech), a HP increase (Shield) or the shield block x number of damage per turn then additional damage goes through.

Edited by Wiz33

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On 9/10/2019 at 12:06 PM, TrashMan said:

I'm not sure I agree with that sentiment Chris.

While there is some luck/change factor, that's generally how armor works. You KNOW what it can usually take. You know modern kevlar will stop handgun rounds (unless you're using a hand cannon). If the armor is hit of course. If you hit in the face, that's a different matter. That is also why I prefer a more proper was of hit detection and shooting. ACTUAL bullet trajectories, actual collision detection, actual cones of fire, actual obstacles. Proper consequences (got hit in the arm? well, the soldier survived, but the armor is thinner there. Arm is unusuable, weapon dropped).

But I digress.. What's the point of armor otherwise if the alien with a laser gun can hit in my 1 kill almost as easily as he could if I was naked? All the time and resources spent to make that armor and all that extra weight I'm lugging around. It has to be worth it. 5% more chance to survive a hit definitely isn't.

I mostly agree with TrashMan here, I'll elaborate below.

die-roll-death, you get shot ...roll a D20...came up 1...ahh bad luck your dude in the best armor in the game just got its head blown off by the dude with a spudgun. you attack..he rolls a 1..he gets his head blown off. now his 6 buddies run around the corner..take shots...roll for defense

player characters...or player controlled soldiers are far more likely to get attacked a lot more over their career and they are not easily replaced, the enemy alien..for all intends and purposes is a disposable pawn capable of depleting his entire arsenal in a single game and suicide himself just to get hits in on player controlled units. this enemy alien will simply be refreshed if he survives or perishes, so 1-shotting him with a juicy crit to the face feels good but is ultimately barely consequential...him getting that hit on you with 1-shot potential regardless of what armor you are wearing feels a lot worse.

so yes I would very much go for a system that allows for a reliable way of counteracting enemy fire. note that, even if you know the soldiers can take 1 hit reliably...as soon as the armor is cracked the stress is on every time this soldier ends up in a potentially dangerous situation. compare this to getting pushed into a hard fight with half your health (or healing items if the game has them) already depleted. yes good players don't get hit often, part of being a  good player means not getting your men shot at in the first place and the armor is a safeguard...this will not change if a single shot can be stopped...it will stop once you can reliably stop full on bursts or plant your dude in heavy armor in the middle of the open face-checking for machinegun-rounds. 

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I just know I'll always remember my first run to get Wolf armor. I could only afford 3 suits, and it was an Outpost raid. I read the description "it can take a 50 cal at point blank." That first guy died to two pellets from a shotgun at the other end of a hallway. I like to think they then kinda did the MGSV thing with Snidely.

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