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Community Discussion - Air Combat

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There seems to be agreement on the original idea of trimming down player input (down to zero for some). Fine grained micromanagement can be left to the tactical layer without upsetting anyone. So instead of clicking repeatedly where to move to avoid an attack, just have an 'evade' button. Thus, in place of a skill game (ala X1), the air combat becomes more tied in with the overall strategy layer (almost closer to XCOM). As a player, you don't take the role of the pilot, but the commander back at base making a choice about how the interception should go. That choice is driven by priority of your strategic needs (relations, loot, spawning tactical missions etc). But the options you have to chose from are determined by your politics/science/economy. e.g. you can't tail the UFO or fight at high altitudes unless you've researched alien propulsion; and you can't just torpedo every scout because eventually you'll run out of munitions. 

I have to say, I'm not sure about clouds. My feelings aren't strong either way, but I'm just saying in case anyone else thinks military radar can probably see through water vapour.

In terms of aesthetics, I very much have in mind something like the X1/XCOM radar view. Maybe with some wire mesh ground topography flowing beneath what is still a 2D battlescape (which I assume is simplicity itself to code :p).

wire-map-2-1030x643.jpg

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On ‎10‎/‎2‎/‎2019 at 6:25 PM, Max_Caine said:

Here's a thought. The idea is to have a real-time combat system that's sufficiently simplified that it's a minigame not a full game in its own right, while not being a stop/start/stop/start like it was in X1 and have sufficient customisability to make each UFO interesting.

Why not rip off the real time system from the Final Fantasy series? The Final Fantasy RTS system has seen a number of evolutions through the years, but at its heart is a real-time system that gave you time to think about what you're doing, and nowhere was that more evident than in FF VII. You could have the UFO on the right-hand side of the screen fleeing and the Xenonaut fighters on the left-hand side of the screen pursuing the UFO so while the fight is static, it looks as if everything is in motion. When the Active Time Bar for a fighter fills up you can issue it offensive instructions (such as what weapon to use or where to target). When the Active Time Bar for the UFO fills up, you get the chance to issue a defensive instruction (such as where to evade) to the plane or planes that the UFO is targeting.

Why use bars at all?

An auto-pase with fixed duration turns means no reflexes involved at all and minimum fuss. No timing issues.

 

Couples with simple orders:

Assault - close in agressively

Strike - attack from range

Evade - focus on defense (may still take pot shots at the enemy)

Flank - try to flank

Circle - if turrets are in, this would be useful

etc.

 

Each move would have it's advantages depending on craft used and weapons equipped.

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1 hour ago, TrashMan said:

... simple orders ...

The crucial thing is to calibrate everything such that those orders are each useful in their own right. In my head, I can see myself always plumbing for 'assault' over 'evade' because the whole point is to win a fight, not dance around. Instead of having orders relating to how to win the fight, construct them to influence the outcome:

Win at all costs: incur damage but splash the UFO (good for intervening in the alien's plans)

Protect the territory: maybe lose the UFO but maintain relations (boosts income, no need for ground combat)

Capture: down the UFO carefully, keeping alien artifacts intact but permitting loses elsewhere (good for your scientists, bad for your engineers and pilots)

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On 10/4/2019 at 9:04 AM, Ninothree said:

The crucial thing is to calibrate everything such that those orders are each useful in their own right. In my head, I can see myself always plumbing for 'assault' over 'evade' because the whole point is to win a fight, not dance around. Instead of having orders relating to how to win the fight, construct them to influence the outcome:

Win at all costs: incur damage but splash the UFO (good for intervening in the alien's plans)

Protect the territory: maybe lose the UFO but maintain relations (boosts income, no need for ground combat)

Capture: down the UFO carefully, keeping alien artifacts intact but permitting loses elsewhere (good for your scientists, bad for your engineers and pilots)

This please. Maybe expand a bit, but I could really like this with an auto battle playing out. 

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On ‎10‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 3:04 PM, Ninothree said:

The crucial thing is to calibrate everything such that those orders are each useful in their own right. In my head, I can see myself always plumbing for 'assault' over 'evade' because the whole point is to win a fight, not dance around. Instead of having orders relating to how to win the fight, construct them to influence the outcome:

Win at all costs: incur damage but splash the UFO (good for intervening in the alien's plans)

Protect the territory: maybe lose the UFO but maintain relations (boosts income, no need for ground combat)

Capture: down the UFO carefully, keeping alien artifacts intact but permitting loses elsewhere (good for your scientists, bad for your engineers and pilots)

Why wouldn't they be useful? Every order would maximize something at the expense of something else, so it would be kinda like rock-paper-scissors, except it wouldn't be an automatic loss/win.

The order you suggest are too broad and make little sense - why would you ever choose anything besides Win At All Cost?

 

Let me give you an example:

Assault - pilot closes in aggressively at max speed. Reduces evasion, increases speed. Would work best against enemy bombers or craft engaged with another enemy. Makes the aircraft more vulnerable to flanking.

Strike - pilot slows down to attack from max range. Good for fighters with a lot of missiles. Less useful for fighters who focus on short-range guns

Etc.. you get the idea.

 

 

The entire system depends on how complex you want it to be. It also depends on what stats the aircraft have.

For example, fighters could have 4 stats - HA-HS (High Altitude High Speed perfomance), HA-LS (High Altitude Low Speed), LA-HS and LA-LS

HIGH ALTITUDE - enemy missiles have a reduced Time To Live if going after high altitude targets (they are fighting gravity and drag more, expending fuel faster - meaning the missile can fizzle out before it reaches you). Increased fighter speed. Increases your own missile TTL against low altitude targets

LOW ALTITUDE - the opposite. Enemies attacking your from high altitude with missiles can do so from longer range and with better accuracy. Flying over flat terrain makes it even worse. Flying over hilly/mountainous terrain gives you defense bonuses. But low altitude gives you better manouverability (in general) 

Tough I think this is too complex for the goal of simple fight mechanics. Then again, what is complex depends on the person. To me such as system is simple and intuitive because  I have a decent understanding of how arial combat works in RL, which is amusingly enough both incredibly complex and really simple at the same time.

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My point is that orders such as 'win at all costs' / 'protect the territory' are more meaningful that 'assault' / 'strike'. In your example you say "Good for fighters with a lot of missiles. Less useful for fighters who focus on short-range guns". So, why have that order if it is pretty much only in there to give to fighters with lots of missiles. Once you've armed your aircraft, there is automatically a good and bad choice between 'assault' / 'strike'. My suggestion was to have orders affect the outcome of the fight. So if you always pick 'win at all costs', you're very quickly going to run out of aircraft, pilots and money. So, you need to find the right balance between splashing enough UFOs and letting your pilots live long enough to become veterans.

I'd agree with the orders you were suggesting if they weren't just determined by the conditions of the fight itself. i.e. you need something else in there to influence your choice (my examples were resources and other things in the strategy layer). The altitude and terrain stuff is good. Maybe clouds as a variable would work too. But my issue is still the same. If all the variables are based within the aircombat system (munitions, altitude, terrain, UFO-type), then there is a predetermined best-choice for what orders to give. Once you figure out the best choice, aircombat is a solved system and you will always use the same attack pattern (essentially just a grind, even if it is a bit rock-paper-scissors). For aircombat to stay interesting through the whole campaign, it needs to be really closely interrelated with other elements of the strategy layer. 

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Hi. Huge fan of Xenonauts 1 , and in that essence Air Combat too. God, I watched almost 4 hours of Youtube videos just to master at it and obviously find it as mandatory part of the fun & strategy & what this game is all about. And I am offended when you define those beautiful moments 'mini - game' though , it is 'the' game.

I would like to build my air coverage strategy according to the fleet I have. I would like to train my pilots according to this strategy, watch them improve themselves from the battles they fought or find their place in hall of fame as fallen heroes just like a Xenonaut ; they are important part of this force against the aliens. Actually the first to face Alien Terror out in the sky when we are most vulnerable , when we thought Elon Musk and earth made Starships would skyrocket not those damned aliens who are polluting our skies with their own god-knows-how poisonous jet fuel! :-) 

 So I would lay out my opinions to support this important piece of game and pray for the Chris and others members of this community to hear me out 

  1. Hiring, improving pilots and having them stats like soldiers are a great idea. I would propose the same as the guy up there with 2 pilots per aircraft. One pilot and one shooter. Obviously if the pilot dies second pilot can take over but can not shoot. And yes in case of a plane shot down we should be able to save them if they parachuted out. The pilots who survived can be playable in the ground mission too with pistols of course , mostly trying to run or hide from enemy. 
    • Piloting : Main skill, increases with flight hours, must have for maneuver incoming shots from enemy 
    • Shooting : The guy with a hand on the gun controls, increases over using the red button and jumps up with fallen enemies 
    • Stamina : Determines the cool down period between flights , increases over time spend in the base
  2. Building and maintaining aircraft is always nice. Like Silent Hunter 5, where you ship can have a limit on stat but tweaks with your top skilled pilots. Even your guns and engine can benefit from those top guns increasing chance of hit or afterburner . 
  3. Pilots can have traits like 'night flier' who is skilled in night missions, 'cloud master' who gets bonus on maneuver stat in the clouds Chris mentioned and shooter and get bonus while shooting from clouds, 'sea gull' who gets bonus over the ocean flights or 'bomber' who gets bonus for firing heavy torpedoes. They are got over experience in missions of course. 
  4. We can buy or produce stuff for pilots that increases their efficiency in missions. For example 'night goggles' for night mission efficiency or 'enhanced war computer' for more accurate shots or 'flight computers' for better maneuverability .
  5. I was in love with those mod I can not recall now but we had AWACS for radar coverage over area that we do not have a base. We can send our pilots to those missions and they gain stamina! We can send bombers to alien bases to reduce efficiency and pilots gain shooting experience. Later  armed drones comes into play and the need for pilots reduces , they can take out small alien ships. 
  6. For engagements I am pretty OK with Xenonauts 1 real time play, but can be improved by Chris's idea to enlarge or dynamic battle field according to the behavior of enemy ship. If it turns and runs away we can burn afterburners and chase and shoot it till they face annihilation! If they face us we allow our planes to split and someone tries to tail him while the other changes direction etc. You know the drill! It's totally ok to pause and redraw lines and unpause by me. We can have this button here to 'parachute out' the pilots to save them from inevitable incoming missile. The other options like 'tail them until over land'  or pre battle layout like 'split before facing them' I think are always nice for a group of fighters. I even would put 'escort' chopper option and troops until crash site to protect them from incoming enemy ships. 
  7. I strongly suggest putting tanker planes to assist our small range initial fighters to catch the enemy on the other side of the continent. 

As you might have noticed I am in love with that air side of the game and beg you please wait a couple of months before making it worth 'cos I can surely wait and pay more with these options :) Thank you for taking the time to read if you have done already!

Best 

Pilots.PNG

Edited by gimli
Ops! Sent mistakenly

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Sad you weren't able to get the turn-based system working well.  I was looking forward to that and still feel it could be stronger than X1's.  Even with the suggested changes/additions, I'm not sure it will resolve the problem with X1's system, which is that once you figure out how to approach a UFO it will just become routine with no meaningful decisions to be made.

If that's where you're going, though: I'm torn on removing manual dodging and replacing with evasion %.  On the one hand, this will remove a lot of the micromanagement from air combat and free players up to think on a more strategic level, since they won't need to focus on precise timings so much.  On the other hand, manual rolling is one of the key control mechanisms in X1 with significant utility beyond simply avoiding attacks. Taking that away without something to replace it may result in air combat feeling/being largely a matter of RNG,

 

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On ‎10‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 3:00 PM, Ninothree said:

I'd agree with the orders you were suggesting if they weren't just determined by the conditions of the fight itself. i.e. you need something else in there to influence your choice (my examples were resources and other things in the strategy layer). The altitude and terrain stuff is good. Maybe clouds as a variable would work too. But my issue is still the same. If all the variables are based within the aircombat system (munitions, altitude, terrain, UFO-type), then there is a predetermined best-choice for what orders to give. Once you figure out the best choice, aircombat is a solved system and you will always use the same attack pattern (essentially just a grind, even if it is a bit rock-paper-scissors). For aircombat to stay interesting through the whole campaign, it needs to be really closely interrelated with other elements of the strategy layer. 

"Win At All Costs" is an order I deem useless, since how much risk your craft undertake is easily handeled by more specific orders. And as you point out - your global resources are ALWAYS a consideration. How many aircraft you have will always inform your decisions and the level of risk.

 

for example - let's say that plasma weapons have damage falloff with distance..or worse chance to hit at distance. Then, ordering your aircraft to fight at maximum range even if they don't have long-range missiles isn't pointless. Your own aircraft looses out on firepower (since it tries to keep inside the range of it's longest-range weapon, and thus might not get into cannon range at all, effectively reducing the firepower for increased safety). On the other hand, getting in close and personal means your fighter will get into cannon range, but will expose itself to more danger. 

 

Flying high is good for going fast and lobbing missiles, bat bad for visibility (get detected easier) and mobility (thin air provides less force on your control surfaces)

Flying low makes it harder for you to get picked up (especially in hilly terrain), and you are more mobile in dense air, but it also gives enemy missiles fired from high altitude more speed (as gravity helps them accelerate) and you cannot go as fast.

Just like in ground combat you need to know the strengths and weakneses of the enemies and your troops, the same should go for air combat. Knowing where the enemy craft performs well and where it does not. And the same for yours. Then equipping them to either maximize their strengths or to reduce their weakneses (both are viable).

 

So, knowing that your fighters excel at low-altitude turning fights, you'd go low, into hilly terrain, forcing the enemy to go after you (since it would be difficult for him to aquire a lock, and it would be easier for you to escape the missile).

 

honestly, if the entire fight looked like DCS's Tactical View (google it), it would be great. 

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I cannot understand people opposing the aircombat mini-game in the shape that we've seen in X1. Replacing it by the order or auto-resolve system means cutting of a complete layer of the game mechanics. It was very fun to take down large UFO's by conventional aircrafts using your own skill and tactical approach, and the mini-game was very helpful in immersing yourself into the battle. Let me explain why, and criticise the idea of removing this in favor to the cinematics:

1. The air-combat mini game is about positioning. Positioning is crucial in any kind of combat -- air, water, ground, name any another environment. Excluding the craft control element or replacing it by the too primitive analogue will exclude the massive part of the player's involvment into the victory.

2. The second advantage that makes the mini-game great is the absence of the randomness. The result of any player's action is predictable and any failure is always the player's failure. Adding the random into the player's actions results will add a lot of annoyance and ultimately decrease the value of the mini-game to the dice rolls.

!!! It's important to notice that I'm not talking about removing the random at all. It's fair to randomise enemies, initial conditions and maps. The only thing to remember is that player's moves in the mini-game should be always predictable. Any other randomised mechanics won't be annoyable and will bring much more diversity and fun, rather than frustration.

3. Some people where criticising the real-time approach due to the pressure and forcing to make decisions quickly. But the presence of the tactical pause refutes this, since you have unlimited time to plan your actions. According to my experience, real-time with pause is the best way to compromise between the fast tempo and game process depth, since any player can play the game in his own way -- by using the pause a lot and playing TBS-like, or not using the pause at all.

4. "The commander shoudn't bother himself with the air combat, that's the pilots' job". But the commander's job is to develop and apply new tactical approaches, and the X1 mini-game provided very nice tools to do it.

Rush with torpedo-carrying Foxtrots or tackle by the wolfpack of Condors. Use your fighters to take down enemy's escort by concentrated fire or luring them one-by-one. Take down the enemy by rockets or take a risk and saw him with autocannons. All of those tactics are not only viable, but are being applied at the appropriate conditions, thanks to the movement and fire-arc system.

Any lore or logical inferences must be inferior to the gameplay and the player's involvement.

In my opinion, the X1 mini-game was almost ideal by it's concept. It deserves development, not the oblivion, since it provides another layer of the gameplay, encouraging the player's tactial approach. Any try of reducing the player's participation in air combat will very probably lead to the routine and shallow game mechanic, much inferior to the X1's.

Edited by EternalSorrow

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Now, some suggestions to actually make my wall of text more useful.

1. Make better controls. The X1's GUI is pretty good and immersive, but it lacks keybinds. Keybinds are the fastest way to perform actions, any kind of the GUI cannot replace it. You'll be surprised how much the game may speed up by developing the proper controls.

2. Craft power-capped building system is an awesome idea. However, the course you've taken (reducing the player's role in combat itself) very probably will lead to these situations:

2.1. Very low diversity -- build-defined chance to win leads to the only one optimal build and another become trash and unused.

2.2. Trying to fix the problem above, you may find it's almost impossible not to make the game also too simple by lowering the role of the optimal build.

2.3. Order-based/cimematic combat results are too shallow to define, what's lacking in your build and how to improve it.

But the system sits pretty well over the X1's mechanics. There's a large space in interchanging between speed/range/ammo/turn rate/etc already.

3. Pilots as separate entities, like soldiers, are also an awesome idea. However, you shouldn't sacrifice the determinism of the player's actions in combat to implement the pilot progression system. Random in firing/defending is a step back in comparison to the X1's mini-game about the proper positioning, so I'd rather suggest improving the craft's core characteristics with the pilot onboard.

4. You were talking about the situation, when the player have found the approach to the specific UFO and is abusing the same tactics.

I've got several times in the situation, that my Condors were almost out of fuel, but I had to take down this UFO. The decision was to flee or agressively offence instead of luring/dogfighting. And that's pretty much of choice, depending on the UFO you're facing, your planes armament and state. Sometimes you can lower your thrust to save as much fuel as you can and turn on the afterburner while getting into the UFOs fire arc.

Conclusions:

The X1's system can generate different situations, which makes it valuable.

To enhance this, it's needed to add some variables into the battle, like enhanced UFO behavior, randomised armament or behavior patterns.

Edited by EternalSorrow

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Quote

 Rush with torpedo-carrying Foxtrots or tackle by the wolfpack of Condors. Use your fighters to take down enemy's escort by concentrated fire or luring them one-by-one. Take down the enemy by rockets or take a risk and saw him with autocannons. All of those tactics are not only viable, but are being applied at the appropriate conditions, thanks to the movement and fire-arc system.

I think this has helped highlight the problem I have with X1's system: there are none of these decisions.

X1 has a fairly clear rock-paper-scissors style approach to air combat.  Foxtrots are UFO killers.  They are very effective in that role: with weapons of the appropriate tier, they outmatch UFOs they are facing in range and firepower and are never in danger except where there are escorts.  Condors and Corsairs are escort killers.  They are also very effective in that role and easily destroy escorts of the tier which match their weapons.  There is therefore no "choice" about what kinds of aircraft or weapons to use as described in the quote: sure, you could use an aircraft outside of its designated role, but there's no reason to do that unless you don't have the right tool to hand.

And the trouble is, you almost always do.  It's pretty easy to keep pace with aircraft weapons, since there's no cost to upgrading them beyond the research.  Aircraft themselves are a bit harder to keep pace with since there is an additional cost beyond basic aircraft but never in a way I've ever noticed as being problematic.  At worse, then, you might have to fight with the wrong tools if aircraft are already committed/resupplying.

This contrasts with games I've played which mod in manufacturing requirements for aircraft weapons.  This delays air power development both in terms of resources (weapon upgrades now cost money and salvage) and in terms of time (you need manufacturing capacity to make them).  As such, with no changes to the weapon stats, the player is usually behind the vanilla air power curve due to lack of time or resources or both.  Behind the curve, aircraft are more evenly matched with UFOs and require more work to come out well: Foxtrots don't always out-range their targets; escorts die slower and are more likely to score hits; total damage capacity is lower so you need to deploy weapons more selectively against escorted UFOs; etc.  In turn, all this leads to taking more damage, meaning you're more likely to have aircraft out of action, and therefore not have optimal squads for dealing with threats and requiring you to "make do".

To put all this another way, vanilla X1 air combat might just be a bit too easy to offer much tactical engagement, at least once you know what you're doing with it.  This is what makes it routine: it's easy to always have what you need; so if you didn't, the air game would become more varied because you need to make do with what you have rather than what you want or need.  So notwithstanding anything else, if X2 is going to use the same RT system, I'd argue that some consideration needs to be given to how it can be made more challenging or at least how the player can be forced out of using the same approach every time for routine success.  (I think costs for equipment are a good solution to this, since the player can compensate by investing resources in air technology, but I doubt it's the only or best solution).

 

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I want to point out what people havent pointed out yet. Some people call for the player to have more involvement in the minigame, some call for less. But the most important point is that the complexity of the airgame doesnt exceed the concentration level you need for the Ground Combat. The needed concentration level for the airgame is skilled based, and skill greatly varies from player to player. Skill is a pyramid, there are a lot of people with less skill, and few with great skill. In order to capture the most amount of people the minigame has to have the least skill requirements possible. The question after that is progression and accessibility of difficulty. The progression usually involves the player getting harder and harder challenges in order for them to increase their skill. But the accessbility of the skill level in an X-Com game is horrible. I can join a Starcraft 2 game and the matchmaking gives me an opponent around my own level, but if the skill requirements for the current UFOs is beyond my level i cant go back to easier ones. The result being that the player might loose a 6 hour campaign and has to restart the game, then invest another 5 hours just to get to the same point again. If i loose a Starcraft 2 match to a better player than i learned a lesson which is around my own skill level, my rating drops and next time i will get assigned a less skilled player. Lost time: zero. The minigame becomes the skill bottleneck for the whole game.

If you make the game too hard you loose out on the base, and if you make it too easy you will get critique from veteran players. Putting 2 competing skill based games into 1 game is usually not good. One throttles down the other. The usual solution for that is autoresolve. Autoresolve removes the hurdle which keeps the player from getting to the content they actually like. A nice picturesque autoresolve feature ( better than X1 ) is your best bet to avoid people getting tired of the minigame they dont want to play. You can do a lot with autoresolve. Randomise damaged UFO parts, randomised damaged aircraft parts, result range, failure rate, etc ... . Autoresolve lets you focus on the parts you want to show off in your game, without having to worry about a second skill based game throttling down your playerbase.

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It stands to reason that the Xenonauts should always have at least a slight superiority over ufos in air combat, simply because they have wings and are designed for atmospheric flight, whereas UFOs aren't - at least in terms of manoeuvrability. The turrets concept that Chris has been talking about is one thing that could keep this mini-game fresh. If the Xenonauts have a manoeuvring advantage, the Aliens have the "endless ammo" advantage due to their advanced weaponry.

Varying the turrets power, range and fire rate is a good and simple way to complicate matters further. 

Edited by ooey

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On 10/13/2019 at 2:54 PM, gimli said:

 

  1. I strongly suggest putting tanker planes to assist our small range initial fighters to catch the enemy on the other side of the continent. 

I've always assumed that this is implied when you disengage from a ufo for whatever reason in Xen1. Either that or the aircraft low on fuel gets back to base having landed in a friendly country to take on fuel to do so. Air-to-air refuelling is something that could also be made into a mini-game requiring skill, although that may be going a tad too far! I remember they managed to incorporate this in a game called ACE on the Commodore 64 (which was a very good combat emulator for its time in the 80s).

Edited by ooey
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In order to capture the most amount of people the minigame has to have the least skill requirements possible.

Strongly disagree. Too simple mini-game will become an uninteresting routine and lose it's depth. Xenonauts supposed to be a deep game with the lot of things to learn. X1's minigame was very nice way to spend few hours to think about your tactics, but not distracting from the Geoscape/Ground Tactic game part -- it already has the things you're talking about.

Furthermore, X1 has a choice -- potentially more rewarding participation in combat by yourself, or auto-resolition, dealing more damage to your crafts/losing more ammo, but yielding a better result in comparison to a low-skill player approach. The game encourages your efforts, but lets low-skill/lazy player to skip the combat and still get decent result. I doubt there may be a better solution to satisfy all categories of players.

Quote

I think this has helped highlight the problem I have with X1's system: there are none of these decisions.

Also cannot agree. I use all of those tactics depending on the my/enemies initial positions, fuel levels and ammo left from previous combat. For example, you cannot make Foxtrot rush on frontal convergence -- Corvettes and better UFO's have a lot of firepower concentrated on their front, you have to escape their fire arc firstly by distracting the enemy by another craft, or there's almost 100% chance to lose your MiG. By adding the low-fuel component, we're getting another choices -- leave the combat, try to outmaneuver the enemy and probably be out of fuel, or take a risk and rush the enemy.

Quote

This contrasts with games I've played which mod in manufacturing requirements for aircraft weapons.  This delays air power development both in terms of resources (weapon upgrades now cost money and salvage) and in terms of time (you need manufacturing capacity to make them).  As such, with no changes to the weapon stats, the player is usually behind the vanilla air power curve due to lack of time or resources or both.  Behind the curve, aircraft are more evenly matched with UFOs and require more work to come out well

As people said, the player's aircraft should be a bit superior in comparison to UFO's. There's even a lore description in X1, why they do.

But to make the game more deep, there should be a real necessity to produce advanced aircraft weapons to keep the superiority -- that's the way to reward the player for his efforts, punish for mistakes and make the difference between player's and UFO's progression curve lesser. So, I agree with you that similar to this mod mechanic should make the game better, without any changes in the aircombat-minigame itself.

Edited by EternalSorrow

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1 hour ago, EternalSorrow said:

Strongly disagree. Too simple mini-game will become an uninteresting routine and lose it's depth.

That's not what @Charon wrote. He meant that the air game should start simple and easy to be manageable by all skill levels and then increase in difficulty gradually.

As for the difficulty increase losing campaigns: I could envision that stays simple enough so you can finish a campaign pretty much regardless of what you do. You'd lose some engagements, but some are pretty much guaranteed to win, furthering the narrative and your progress. But there would be optional goals to fulfil there to increase difficulty and/or risk as well as rewards. Speaking of the old X1 system, how about not focusing too much damage on one side of the UFO so components do not get destroyed in-air? Or how about you if could try to concentrate fire only on some areas or use weaker weaponry in order to spare more crew who you then have the chance to capture? Or how about while developing new weaponry you could field some prototype that may speed up your development of the weapon, but be worse/less reliable than what you have right now? With pilots being characters more like ground troops, even experience and achievements could be a thing to bring in there.

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That's not what @Charon wrote. He meant that the air game should start simple and easy to be manageable by all skill levels and then increase in difficulty gradually.

Ok, but is the X1 mini-game not manageable at the start?

Most of people are talking about simplifications and making the game manageable by all kinds of players, but nobody talks about how to preserve it being fun. The truly interesting game will always require some minimal skill, the more depth the game has, the higher will be the entry level. I cannot understand players asking for the game which will be playing it itself -- that leads to the "auto-resolve" combat as the only option, and it doesn't matter, will it be equipped with the beautiful cutscene or 3 buttons "agressive/defensive/moderate" -- the difference is pretty cosmetic.

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As for the difficulty increase losing campaigns: I could envision that stays simple enough so you can finish a campaign pretty much regardless of what you do.

I hope not. I don't see any reason to play the strategy game you cannot loose.

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Speaking of the old X1 system, how about not focusing too much damage on one side of the UFO so components do not get destroyed in-air? Or how about you if could try to concentrate fire only on some areas or use weaker weaponry in order to spare more crew who you then have the chance to capture?

Seems to very nice fit over the X1's combat system. You maneuver your crafts to get the fire solution from the right angle, trading between risk/reward. Taking down UFO from the six, for example, is the least risky way, but may lead to the UFO's engine system being hit and detonated. Or being hit on frontal convergence will kill the piloting crew and destroy few core components, but will leave most of the UFO intact.

The X1's mini-game system allows to generate a lot of situations, when you try to approach the UFO from the right angle by distracting it with your another plane, and planning your course and firing angle to hit the UFO module precisely.

Edited by EternalSorrow

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30 minutes ago, EternalSorrow said:

Ok, but is the X1 mini-game not manageable at the start?

I am so far disengaged with my first days of Xenonauts and with the Vanilla game that I can't tell personally, but if you watch some first let's Plays, you'll see people be overwhelmed by the system, because all they know is flying straight at the enemy and getting shot down. The game does not do a good job of explaining anything, really, and the fact that you should pause as often as you can, use manual waypoints, manage your evasive rolls with keys that are not explained and that the speed has influence on your turn rate and that you should attack from the side to land missiles against evasive targets, all that is stuff you have to explore to really be successful. try working without all that and you'll likely find the air game frustrating.

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Most of people are talking about simplifications and making the game manageable by all kinds of players, but nobody talks about how to preserve it being fun. The truly interesting game will always require some minimal skill, the more depth the game has, the higher will be the entry level. I cannot understand players asking for the game which will be playing it itself

Can you point me towards people who do not want to have a fun game or who want the game to play itself, please? Because if I read someone wanting that I must have forgotten that by now. The thing is that what is fun to you and what is easy to you does not have to be the same for everyone else.

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I hope not. I don't see any reason to play the strategy game you cannot loose. 

I am obviously talking solely about the air game, not the strategy (world map) part. Maybe I worded that one a bit misleadingly. Obviously you still need to keep up with research on aircraft and their equipment to make it through the game, but not to be good at the manual part of it. The problem with X1s air game is that it arguably is the least important of the three parts of the game, the least "core" part, and the most special with its pausable real time system that needs quick reactions, while at the same time being, along with the other two parts, a component you have to succeed in in order to win, makes it frustrating for some players who already voiced their concerns. I am not one being frustrated with the air game, but I still would like to see a turn-based system instead, because I feel it would fit better into the game's overall mechanisms.

That said, I have no idea how to make a good turn-based air game of two widely different opponents, as I also have said multiple times now.

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Now that X1-style air combat is coming back, I'm going to give it a try with an open mind, but I'm in the minority (I guess?) that thinks the X1 minigame was bad, I'd even call it the weakest part of the game.

The tactical part of the minigame was negligible. Several types of engagements only had one way to play them at all. For squadron engagements, the only ones with any tactics involved, there were also few different things you could do. Bait with a fast plane, use one plane to get behind the UFO - options, yes, but very few. The replay value was low because you'd figure the tactics out after only a few engagements. Instead, your success would be determined by mechanical, twitch-based skill. The pause button wasn't tactical, you didn't really use it to think - it was a twitch button, as you should pause at the right moment to correctly time your rolls or missiles. In a few scenarios, you wanted to make quick, tight turns, which meant many fast and reasonably precise clicks.

At the same time, you could master engagements so you would always succeed in a particular scenario. My favourite example, albeit not the only one, is two Condors vs a Corvette. The four missiles from the Condors will kill the UFO, but the Corvette will have time to fire its cannon once. So the engagement has the following success formula - just let your Condors fly towards the Corvette, pause when it fires, roll the targeted Condor (or both), unpause. Corvette down, Condors unharmed 100% of the time. Simple, formulaic, gets boring the 3rd time you have this engagement.

And none of this was really related to the game's strategy layer. Airplane ammo was free and unlimited, so if you could use superior tactics to spend one missile less, that had no effect on anything anyway (I hope in general X2 has the time to do something more interesting with the economy). 

Then there's the problem that making the X1 minigame more difficult would mainly be on the account of additional reflex/speed requirements more than tactical thinking.

Like I said, I'll approach the X2 real-time combat with an open mind, but I would have preferred to see the turn-based approach evolve.

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3 hours ago, Solver said:

Now that X1-style air combat is coming back, I'm going to give it a try with an open mind, but I'm in the minority (I guess?) that thinks the X1 minigame was bad, I'd even call it the weakest part of the game.

The tactical part of the minigame was negligible. Several types of engagements only had one way to play them at all. For squadron engagements, the only ones with any tactics involved, there were also few different things you could do. Bait with a fast plane, use one plane to get behind the UFO - options, yes, but very few. The replay value was low because you'd figure the tactics out after only a few engagements. Instead, your success would be determined by mechanical, twitch-based skill. The pause button wasn't tactical, you didn't really use it to think - it was a twitch button, as you should pause at the right moment to correctly time your rolls or missiles. In a few scenarios, you wanted to make quick, tight turns, which meant many fast and reasonably precise clicks.

At the same time, you could master engagements so you would always succeed in a particular scenario. My favourite example, albeit not the only one, is two Condors vs a Corvette. The four missiles from the Condors will kill the UFO, but the Corvette will have time to fire its cannon once. So the engagement has the following success formula - just let your Condors fly towards the Corvette, pause when it fires, roll the targeted Condor (or both), unpause. Corvette down, Condors unharmed 100% of the time. Simple, formulaic, gets boring the 3rd time you have this engagement.

And none of this was really related to the game's strategy layer. Airplane ammo was free and unlimited, so if you could use superior tactics to spend one missile less, that had no effect on anything anyway (I hope in general X2 has the time to do something more interesting with the economy). 

Then there's the problem that making the X1 minigame more difficult would mainly be on the account of additional reflex/speed requirements more than tactical thinking.

Like I said, I'll approach the X2 real-time combat with an open mind, but I would have preferred to see the turn-based approach evolve.

I'd say the vanilla version was amusing, but somewhat too simply utilized for logical reasons. What XDiv did with it really gave it a lot of depth though, and mechanically it was technically the same. 

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20 hours ago, Solver said:

Now that X1-style air combat is coming back, I'm going to give it a try with an open mind, but I'm in the minority (I guess?) that thinks the X1 minigame was bad, I'd even call it the weakest part of the game.

The tactical part of the minigame was negligible. Several types of engagements only had one way to play them at all. For squadron engagements, the only ones with any tactics involved, there were also few different things you could do. Bait with a fast plane, use one plane to get behind the UFO - options, yes, but very few. The replay value was low because you'd figure the tactics out after only a few engagements. Instead, your success would be determined by mechanical, twitch-based skill. The pause button wasn't tactical, you didn't really use it to think - it was a twitch button, as you should pause at the right moment to correctly time your rolls or missiles. In a few scenarios, you wanted to make quick, tight turns, which meant many fast and reasonably precise clicks.

 At the same time, you could master engagements so you would always succeed in a particular scenario. My favourite example, albeit not the only one, is two Condors vs a Corvette. The four missiles from the Condors will kill the UFO, but the Corvette will have time to fire its cannon once. So the engagement has the following success formula - just let your Condors fly towards the Corvette, pause when it fires, roll the targeted Condor (or both), unpause. Corvette down, Condors unharmed 100% of the time. Simple, formulaic, gets boring the 3rd time you have this engagement.

 And none of this was really related to the game's strategy layer. Airplane ammo was free and unlimited, so if you could use superior tactics to spend one missile less, that had no effect on anything anyway (I hope in general X2 has the time to do something more interesting with the economy). 

I in fact wrote a longer post to my previous one which was saying more or less this.  I do think there is some tactical thinking, but only in the sense of there being a bit of a puzzle to figuring out some UFOs which, once you have it, then just becomes routine.

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Then there's the problem that making the X1 minigame more difficult would mainly be on the account of additional reflex/speed requirements more than tactical thinking.

On reflection, where I was suggesting it be more challenging than X1, I think what I actually meant is that the difficulty should be more dynamic, rather than it should just be blanket harder.  I.e. it should stretch your resources more, such that you need to make strategic level decisions about how much and what to invest in the air game, and make strategic decisions about what to commit to particular engagements.  The skill required to do the air game is therefore somewhat up to the player: players who are good at it might be able to get away with less investment or take on more risky challenges.

But I guess this is envisaging the air game as a "push-your-luck" system, which is pretty much what I envisaged the turn based version might be as well.  I.e. it's less about making tactical decisions which make the difference between winning and losing (because I don't think either system can make that work very well, since the cost of losing is too high and the range and variation of situations too low for it not to become routine quickly) but it can allow tactical-come-strategic decisions about what you're willing to risk and what you're priorities are (e.g. do you take chances in an air combat to bring down a big UFO with lots of resources on it, or do you play it safe and just take a chance with some low-probability attacks in the hope of getting some lucky hits; which fits into a wider strategic-level game of how much you're investing in air superiority at all).

A weird sort-of compromise here would be to have a system like the fleet battles in Endless Space 2 - i.e. you select an attack mode for each of your aircraft before engagement and then the whole thing plays out automatically without direct input from the player.  Offers some strategic/tactical choice, makes engagements pretty quick, and takes away the reflex/twitch requirements.  Could be augmented by having some some binary mode or one-use command which can be activated during the engagement for some direct player involvement?

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As a useful datum for people discussing this subject, I don't believe everyone is aware that aircraft are most customisable than their X1 equivalent. Currently, the only aircraft you can purchase in X2 has 2 weapon slots, an armour slot and a utility slot. Each weapon slot is separate to others, so you can have 1 weapon type in one slot, and another in the other. There are research projects which specifically are for upgrades, mostly covering armour and weapons but you never know? There may be utility items as well. Currently, when an aircraft item is researched, it must be manufactured. Of course, all those data points are subject to change but that's how things are at the moment.

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2 hours ago, kabill said:

A weird sort-of compromise here would be to have a system like the fleet battles in Endless Space 2 - i.e. you select an attack mode for each of your aircraft before engagement and then the whole thing plays out automatically without direct input from the player.  Offers some strategic/tactical choice, makes engagements pretty quick, and takes away the reflex/twitch requirements.  Could be augmented by having some some binary mode or one-use command which can be activated during the engagement for some direct player involvement?

I think that would be the worst of both worlds. I loathe systems that take away control of the player. If i want to watch a movie i go and watch a movie. If i play a game i want it to be playable. This proposal is the exemplary case of what people who secretly hate the airgame would come up with. Removes all elements they dont like and makes it enjoyable for them.

This is why i advocated for a 2 way system from the beginning. Let the people who dont like it have a proper autoresolve system, and make the airgame for people who really like it. Instead of having to force a compromise which is to nobodys taste in the end.

Asking people who dont like the airgame is like asking a person who doesnt like cheese to go on a cheese-eating-spree. Guess what they will tell you about it, "It tastes really good, except for the cheese."

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Unusually, I have to agree with Charon on the subject. If there is any airgame except autoresolve, it should be playable with actual player interaction. Even if I would prefer a turn-based system, the current X2 system that's being removed isn't really like gameplay, it's more like watching a cutscene.

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