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V9.2 Balance / Gameplay feedback thread

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The release of V9.2 sees a bunch of usability and balance updates to the game (mostly the former). The changelog for V9.2 can be found here and my closing remarks on the previous balance thread can be found here where I answer some of the issues raised in the previous threads. 

A few things to highlight:

  • The changes to the research tree may not all make much sense, particularly with regards to the armour. You should read our plans for the Modular Armour system as you'll need to understand what we're planning to understand why I've made those changes.
  • I've reduced the money and resource income from the strategy layer quite significantly, and I'd be interested in whether people feel like it has gone too far. Things are definitely much harder!
  • Converted alien weapons are being disabled in the next build. I'm open to arguments for re-enabling them but I'm not convinced there's a valid reason to do so, as I feel like there's already a disproprotionate number of weapons in the game and I don't feel there's niches for all of them. But I'm willing to have my mind changed on that point.
  • Combat Armour is now a starting item and it's default equipment for the Infantry and Assault loadouts. Because all your soldiers start out as Infantry, it means everyone has it - one of the priority changes in the next major build will be to restore the weapon / armour mix to the starting troops so it's not all rifles and combat armour (it can make missions a bit boring).
  • Map variation is definitely a problem in the current build, but unfortunately we probably won't be able to fix that until V10 or V11.

Other than that, comments are welcome. I'm planning to play a bit deeper into the game in my next playthrough because my previous set of changes were mostly focused on the first hour or so of gameplay.

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Oh, random straw poll - do people feel like they should be able to build new base buildings next to buildings that are under contruction? Classic X-Com handled it that way but my instinct is that you should be able to do so, as having to wait for the Access Lift to finish building and then gradually build out from that feels a bit limiting.

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I'd vote for allowing the build, as long as there's a way to implement it. 

Super stoked to hear about modular armor being a thing, I literally had that as a thing on a wishlist yesterday :D

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1 hour ago, Chris said:

Oh, random straw poll - do people feel like they should be able to build new base buildings next to buildings that are under contruction? Classic X-Com handled it that way but my instinct is that you should be able to do so, as having to wait for the Access Lift to finish building and then gradually build out from that feels a bit limiting.

I'd not allow it, but decrease the Access Lift construction time a bit. I think it's reasonable to have a "start-up time" for bases, and it also makes more sense that you need to finish something before expanding farthre out.

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31 minutes ago, Solver said:

I'd not allow it, but decrease the Access Lift construction time a bit. I think it's reasonable to have a "start-up time" for bases, and it also makes more sense that you need to finish something before expanding farthre out.

It's not just the Access Lift itself, though - once it has finally finished you can then only build four buildings around it. This is particularly an issue if you want to build say three hangars next to each other rather than doing some weird arrangement around the starting lift. It was less of a problem in X1 because the starting building there is 2x2 instead, and has a larger surface area to build from.

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Yeah but you can build two hangars + radar, or three hangars right away in X2 as well. It makes your base look less pretty perhaps, but that's what you get when rushing construction.

Otherwise you end up having scenarios where you can cancel the production of a building that connects your lift to another under-construction building. You have to either disallow that or handle it... what does the extra complexity get you really?

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2 hours ago, Solver said:

Yeah but you can build two hangars + radar, or three hangars right away in X2 as well. It makes your base look less pretty perhaps, but that's what you get when rushing construction.

Otherwise you end up having scenarios where you can cancel the production of a building that connects your lift to another under-construction building. You have to either disallow that or handle it... what does the extra complexity get you really?

Indeed, but that's already supported. It's not possible to demolish a building that would leave another building disconnected from the Access Lift so that part of the code doesn't need to change.

Also, I probably should rephrase the question - do you see any good gameplay reasons why it should not be allowed? It's definitely more convenient to allow building next to in-construction buildings, but it does mean you'll be able to throw an entire base together very quickly. Does anyone think that'll affect the game in a negative manner?

The big complication is actually what happens with the Power system given you need to have the Power capacity required by a building up and running before you start cosntruction on it (which means finishing the Generator).

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I would like to say not to allow it, but I'm not sure I could justify it as anything except to slow down base construction. As it was before 9.3, I built three bases out to operational status for interception missions. I was working on building the third one a third hanger to operate a dropship from, which the second base already had. A fourth base was just starting construction on the access lift. This was all by the end of February/beginning of March game time when the update shut it down.

Admittedly, I focused entirely on radar and Hangers giving each base a single barracks facility and only building generators as needed. Since controlling the air keeps the regions from cutting funding, and you can just airstrike the crash sites to make money, this is what I considered the priority.

The limiting factor now is the reduced income. At $500,000 for each side mission keeping production and engineering projects going at the same time was pretty easy. That's not going to be as simple with the reduction in income. More of the UFO crash sites will have to be used as revenue builders instead of Alien tech collection points if I want to build stuff that quickly in 9.3.

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Liking the more limited resources, but would like to see it varied up more somehow. 

Gameplay wise, maybe there could be an "unpowered" state, and a means to reroute power FTL style? 

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On ‎11‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 3:28 PM, Chris said:

It's not just the Access Lift itself, though - once it has finally finished you can then only build four buildings around it. This is particularly an issue if you want to build say three hangars next to each other rather than doing some weird arrangement around the starting lift. It was less of a problem in X1 because the starting building there is 2x2 instead, and has a larger surface area to build from.

Why not add a "dig" function, as in prepare the area for building. It would cost a little, but you can designate as many "blocks/squares" as you want and they would be prepared fast. Once prepared you can build whatever you want. Basically, you can clear the area for all 3 hangars as you finish the lift, for a small time and cash fee.

 

The only question is - should the adjecent squares be auto-cleared/prepared when you build an access lift?

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On 11/10/2019 at 1:48 PM, Chris said:

The release of V9.2 sees a bunch of usability and balance updates to the game (mostly the former). The changelog for V9.2 can be found here and my closing remarks on the previous balance thread can be found here where I answer some of the issues raised in the previous threads. 

A few things to highlight:

  • The changes to the research tree may not all make much sense, particularly with regards to the armour. You should read our plans for the Modular Armour system as you'll need to understand what we're planning to understand why I've made those changes.
  • I've reduced the money and resource income from the strategy layer quite significantly, and I'd be interested in whether people feel like it has gone too far. Things are definitely much harder!
  • Converted alien weapons are being disabled in the next build. I'm open to arguments for re-enabling them but I'm not convinced there's a valid reason to do so, as I feel like there's already a disproprotionate number of weapons in the game and I don't feel there's niches for all of them. But I'm willing to have my mind changed on that point.
  • Combat Armour is now a starting item and it's default equipment for the Infantry and Assault loadouts. Because all your soldiers start out as Infantry, it means everyone has it - one of the priority changes in the next major build will be to restore the weapon / armour mix to the starting troops so it's not all rifles and combat armour (it can make missions a bit boring).
  • Map variation is definitely a problem in the current build, but unfortunately we probably won't be able to fix that until V10 or V11.

Other than that, comments are welcome. I'm planning to play a bit deeper into the game in my next playthrough because my previous set of changes were mostly focused on the first hour or so of gameplay.

What i think it's don't change stuff with buildings , cuz you gonna make the game too easy, second in my opinion armor balance it's broken, because in xenonauts 1 in order to unlock Jackal Armor you had to research alien pistol and now you getting straight away a new armor. In my opinion it's stupid and make game easier and 0 brain usage. 3rd instead allow to recruit more soldiers to base. 4rd old system when soldiers were can reach 100 Time units, 100 Reflex , 100 Bravery , 97 Health , 100 Strenght , 100 Accuracy , because this grind was fun and enjoyable. 5th - make aliens more aggresive and more high IQ. Like in xenonauts 1 aliens were like hiding and making suprise attack, not the mention opening alien ship doors. Now it's like when you open the door of the ship, it's like please shot me. Aliens in xenonauts 1 could move out of the ship and kill soldier standing outside if it was not in cover. 6th add cover markers(heavy cover, medium cover, low cover, no cover, and blocked shot). 7th add game mode from easy to superhuman cuz i want beat game on OP mode. 8th it is possible to make ship enterence kinda bigger because baby door it's kinda annoying + option to close and open the doors like in xenonauts 1? 9th It is possible that when you start new xenonauts campaing and you starting war with aliens, the ships that are appearing in first month could scale the same as it was in xenonauts 1, because it's now like babyships in begin dissapearing and you end up with OP ships in single month. In xenonauts 1 when campaing begins you starting in first mounth with small scout(tier 1) -> sometimes bigger scout(tier 2), second mounth bigger scout(tier 2) -> sometimes small scout(tier 1), third mounth Cov ship(tier 3) after that +++++. Because you get time to prepare your soldiers for late game. 10th and last it's add option to rename soldiers xD.

1 more thing, there is a bug, weapons sounds aren't working

Xenonauts 1: gameplay time https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/644290406699237376/644551236384980992/unknown.png

Edited by CaptainSPrice

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with 9.3, gameplay is much harder.

It takes time to research Lasers, and to build one you have not enough Alien Alloys.

The androns, which were tough before 9.3, now seem to have explosive rounds, walk through base walls and kill your team right before you have opened the first door.

This is a bit to hard - given that we have normal difficulty.

groundcombat-228.json

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4 hours ago, squeezechart said:

with 9.3, gameplay is much harder.

It takes time to research Lasers, and to build one you have not enough Alien Alloys.

The androns, which were tough before 9.3, now seem to have explosive rounds, walk through base walls and kill your team right before you have opened the first door.

This is a bit to hard - given that we have normal difficulty. 

groundcombat-228.json

As i said scailing from early game to mid game it's too fast. I don't know mby developers do that with intention to test all stuff quicker but still, it's not balanced atm

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Early Aircraft are just shot out of the sky, before you have a chance, to go into ground combat, No ground combat, the game stands still. The aliens seem to take over areas faster than before, and this is on normal settings.

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I have to note that while i haven't played too much on the 9.3 version of the game, it left me with the idea that it was way too hard to arm my soldiers with laser weapons, lot of research and resources for a laser rifle. 

Maybe the original UFO game mechanism would work? laser weapons were generally upgraded human technology inspired by alien technology (some research) and just expensive rifles to engineer yourself, no alien resources required, plasma weapons were directly drawn from alien technology and thus elerium or another alien resource is required to make them?

Thank you for the great game, keep on the hard work. 

 

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I agree with Ruggerman: "Early Aircraft are just shot out of the sky, before you have a chance, to go into ground combat.."

I had been using AutoResolve (AR) before 9.2-3 because most of them ended in a ufo shoot-down, and the more combats I can get into the better it is for judging balance and hunting bugs in the main missions of the game.  Now (9.3), however, I am shot down almost every time with AR & I quickly lose all my aircraft.  Also: THERE ARE NO ODDS LISTED to be able to decide on whether or not to use AR--is this supposed to be different than X-1?  Maybe I missed a discussion on this.

In desperation I tried using air combat, and find it fussy (trying to turn in repeated tight little circles when I'm close enough to fire, taking forever to get close enough because I'm slower) and have had no better luck.  Also, it seems impossible to break off combat: the ufo tracks me down and shoots my fleeing, slower aircraft.

I still have some balance concerns about the plentiful amount of smoke available.  I carry lots of smoke and throw up a screen when I come into LOS of an alien.  The aliens, sooner or later, always wade into the smoke and can't do any long-distance kills on me unless I have been careless.  I do understand Chris' point about not much AI for the aliens, so I'll look for smarter aliens. 

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In X-1, within air combat, there was a button that allowed you to flip or turn your aircraft to avoid the alien missiles, but not in this version of the game.

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I'd like to take a moment to talk about the weapon I use the very least, the submachinegun.

The submachinegun could be a great secondary weapon to compliment pretty much any primary except perhaps the assault rifle. The problem as I see it is that there's nothing the submachinegun does that isn't done already by the primary set. The current statline has't changed pretty much since v1, and all it is at the moment is a cut-down version of an assault rifle. Some of it's biggest failures are it's expensive to use, easy to miss with and doesn't give enough bang for your buck. It's generally better to have a medkit and rely on your primary than get some use out of the secondary. I tried out a lot of different ways the submachine could compliment primary weapons and retain the feel of a submachinegun, and came up with the following:

Remove all options except burst, and give the burst 4 shots: Most primary weapons have a single shot mode already, with the exception of the LMG. The submachinegun shouldn't be trying to compete with primary weapons that do a job probably better than the SMG can do. A burst fire of 4 shots slots alongside al primary weapon types, but won't directly compete with the LMG that has a higher ROF.

Reduce the damage to 12: This ties directly into the first change. The original damage a submachinegun can do is 20. Improving the burst to 4 would make 20 hella OP. Reducing it to 12 wil give a maximum damage of 48. Testing you generally see damage between 20-30, depending on how many bullets hit the target.

Increase accuracy to 65: After lots of tweaking, I found that the current burst accuracy of 45 is too low, but 70 or higher made the SMG too effective compared to primary weapons. An accruacy boost of 65 made the weapon more palatable and in the hands of skilled operators, deadly.

Reduce burst cost to 20%: This is the biggie. The biggest change I made was to drastically reduce the cost of firing the weapon. This change is what makes the SMG favourable - it's now a cheap way to put a lot of lead downfield. In theory a solider standing still could empty the magazine and spray 20 shots everywhere. In practice, you're likely to get 2 bursts out in-between moving and using the primary. A soldier with an LMg as primary and SMG as secondary can use the LMG first then blast away with the SMG. The reduced damage makes the cheap shots less effective than it first seems. Verses Sebillians, it's takes a lot of fire from an SMG to put one down. I found that generally, using the primary first then folowing up with the SMG was the preferable option, but I could be proven wrong on this point. 

Reduce suppression damage to 5: It was importnat to drastically reduce the amount of suppression damage a SMG did, because it ws cheap and fired lots of shots. Dropping it from 20 to 5 seems drastic, but a burst now simulates what suppression damage it did anyway.

Reduce range slightly: Primary weapons (with the exception of the shotgun) should have the lead on the SMG with regards to range. The submachinegun is supposed to compliment them after all, so I droped it from 16 to 12. This out it ahead of the shotgun, but ehind every other weapon.

Reduce reload cost slightly: This altered SMG is the weapon you are most likely going to change mags for, so it made sense to reduce the cost of reloads slightly to compensate. I dropped it from 25 to 20. 

 

The sum total of all these changes makes the submachinegun a rapid, close-quarters assault weapon, lacking the punch of the shotgun or assault rifle but more than capable to tearing up targets with a hail of bullets. It's best paired with the LMG or the Sniper Rifle, but can go with any primary. Below is the modified version of the SMG, if anyone cares to give it try:

ballistic_smg.json

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On 11/10/2019 at 7:48 AM, Chris said:

The release of V9.2 sees a bunch of usability and balance updates to the game (mostly the former). The changelog for V9.2 can be found here and my closing remarks on the previous balance thread can be found here where I answer some of the issues raised in the previous threads. 

A few things to highlight:

  • The changes to the research tree may not all make much sense, particularly with regards to the armour. You should read our plans for the Modular Armour system as you'll need to understand what we're planning to understand why I've made those changes.
  • I've reduced the money and resource income from the strategy layer quite significantly, and I'd be interested in whether people feel like it has gone too far. Things are definitely much harder!
  • Converted alien weapons are being disabled in the next build. I'm open to arguments for re-enabling them but I'm not convinced there's a valid reason to do so, as I feel like there's already a disproprotionate number of weapons in the game and I don't feel there's niches for all of them. But I'm willing to have my mind changed on that point.
  • Combat Armour is now a starting item and it's default equipment for the Infantry and Assault loadouts. Because all your soldiers start out as Infantry, it means everyone has it - one of the priority changes in the next major build will be to restore the weapon / armour mix to the starting troops so it's not all rifles and combat armour (it can make missions a bit boring).
  • Map variation is definitely a problem in the current build, but unfortunately we probably won't be able to fix that until V10 or V11.

Other than that, comments are welcome. I'm planning to play a bit deeper into the game in my next playthrough because my previous set of changes were mostly focused on the first hour or so of gameplay.

  • Not a fan of the armor changes yet but I very much expect I will be in the long run once you finish building all of what you talk about in that thread.
  • I thought it was too low before these changes.  So yeah now it's WAY too low.  Especially since you critically need those scientists and engineers.  Well and money now too...
  • If your starting weapons didn't absolutely suck wind I would agree.  And if you could spend less than 50 months to research and build replacements (ok 2-5 for the first level of them, but still a long time) ditto.  At least with the converted weapons (and save scum) you can do enough damage to survive.  Sure you often can't hit the broadside of a barn for the first 50 reloads, but you can at least do damage when finally you do hit.  (Obviously again I'm exaggerating for effect, but still.)
  • See #1
  • As expected, no sweat.

Frankly, I can understand reducing the supply of the engineers and scientists (and money).  I don't agree mind you -- not at all -- but I understand.  Both sides actually.  I too am better at using my own software than the average user, what seems merely "harder" to you will seem "crushingly impossible" to a normal user.  You do need to take that into account.

That said, especially once you get around to re-implementing difficultly levels this actually would be a GREAT idea for that... perhaps 3 engineers/scientists on baby-easy, 2 for the middle level(s), and 1 for impossible.  And similar tiers on money.

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15 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

I'd like to take a moment to talk about the weapon I use the very least, the submachinegun.

The submachinegun could be a great secondary weapon to compliment pretty much any primary except perhaps the assault rifle. The problem as I see it is that there's nothing the submachinegun does that isn't done already by the primary set. The current statline has't changed pretty much since v1, and all it is at the moment is a cut-down version of an assault rifle. Some of it's biggest failures are it's expensive to use, easy to miss with and doesn't give enough bang for your buck. It's generally better to have a medkit and rely on your primary than get some use out of the secondary. I tried out a lot of different ways the submachine could compliment primary weapons and retain the feel of a submachinegun, and came up with the following:

Remove all options except burst, and give the burst 4 shots: Most primary weapons have a single shot mode already, with the exception of the LMG. The submachinegun shouldn't be trying to compete with primary weapons that do a job probably better than the SMG can do. A burst fire of 4 shots slots alongside al primary weapon types, but won't directly compete with the LMG that has a higher ROF.

I like most of your ideas and even to some degree this one.  But not entirely.  When I'm not save-scumming (or before I call the turn a failure and do so) I'm usually using the SMG as a way to get my snipers an extra shot in trying to finish off the alien before he can execute one of my soldiers (or a civilian).  And for that mode you DO need the ability to shoot single shot (or at least less).

Perhaps instead it should have light burst and full burst only? Perhaps 2x shots for less TUs and 4x for "full" TUs?

 

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It's a good point, but if I do that then I pretty much close down the pistol, because the SMG then does everything you could want out of a secondary. I've been experimenting a lot with both SMG and the pistol and my personal conclsion is that the pistol can be a viable secondary but to compete with the SMG it has to be able to do things that the SMG can't do. I haven't fully locked down the pistol yet, but I do have a number of changes to it which makes it more viable.

 

Increase damage from 12 to 20: This is the damage the pistol did in X1, similar to the rifle. This upgrades the pistol to a magnum .50 Action-Express. The kind of weapon you take around bear country. The boost in damage is necessary because the pistol is single-shot, so every shot that hits has to count. 

Decrease snap TU cost to 10%, and aimed to 20%: The hallmark of primary weapons is they don't have a TU cost below 22-25% for the lowest cost shot. Secondaries can back this up by being cheap to shoot so complimenting the more expensive primary.

Reduce ammo count to 7: If I boost the damage up and reduce cost of shots, then exactly why am I using a primary again? By halving the ammo count per magazine, you gotta be more careful about ammo conservaion, something you don't have to be with the primaries.

Reduce magazine weight to 0.5: In tandem with the reduction of shots per magazine, you need to carry more of them so reucing the weight makes the pistol a more attractive weapon. 

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^THIS. Please. Given that the aliens are generally on the bulky side, it makes sense that they'd want a punchy pistol. Maybe not a Deagle, but one of them smaller magnums. 

Maybe instead of tiering the pistol, just have ammo upgrades and sidegrades? Laser burst rounds (energy type), plasma fueled rounds (increased range), smoke rounds (drops a line of smoke on the way to the target), etc 

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With less resources to start with, it will take a lot longer to build bases and have the kind of force that will keep you in-touch with the game.

New players could become disinterested in the game sooner, and move on to other slimier produces.

All games need to have that fine balance between changing and winnable, so as to build up the fan base, for the next incarnation of this game.

Levels of difficulty need to be put in, to cater for different skill levels.

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On 11/22/2019 at 7:47 AM, Max_Caine said:

It's a good point, but if I do that then I pretty much close down the pistol, because the SMG then does everything you could want out of a secondary. I've been experimenting a lot with both SMG and the pistol and my personal conclsion is that the pistol can be a viable secondary but to compete with the SMG it has to be able to do things that the SMG can't do. I haven't fully locked down the pistol yet, but I do have a number of changes to it which makes it more viable.

 

Increase damage from 12 to 20: This is the damage the pistol did in X1, similar to the rifle. This upgrades the pistol to a magnum .50 Action-Express. The kind of weapon you take around bear country. The boost in damage is necessary because the pistol is single-shot, so every shot that hits has to count. 

Decrease snap TU cost to 10%, and aimed to 20%: The hallmark of primary weapons is they don't have a TU cost below 22-25% for the lowest cost shot. Secondaries can back this up by being cheap to shoot so complimenting the more expensive primary.

Reduce ammo count to 7: If I boost the damage up and reduce cost of shots, then exactly why am I using a primary again? By halving the ammo count per magazine, you gotta be more careful about ammo conservaion, something you don't have to be with the primaries.

Reduce magazine weight to 0.5: In tandem with the reduction of shots per magazine, you need to carry more of them so reucing the weight makes the pistol a more attractive weapon. 

Yeah.  If the pistol did a bit more damage (or took less TUs, and especially if both) I would put those as the secondary on my snipers in a heartbeat.  Perhaps that's the better option.

Of course I then have to wonder if I'd like the SMG enough to use it at all.  Definitely not vanilla, at any rate, nor on the snipers anymore.  Maybe your version though could be the long-range variant for the shotgun folks?  And it does fit thematically, two (very) different "spray-and-pray" type weapons.  To date I've always put med packs on them figuring they are GOING to need them.  But I also completely loathe the starting rifle, so I'm tempted to try two variant assault classes with snipers and see if that works or not.

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There's the thing: If I spend 20% of my squdddies TU to fire an aimed shot, then that's another 20% I have to stump up if my squaddie misses. The SMG offers a 4-for-1 deal, but each shot doesn't do as much damage and won't suppress like the pistol shots can. Who do you give each secondary type to? The choices! The choices! 

Friarbob, you seem keen so I took all those changes and put them into one zip for you:

Friarbob.zip

All you have to do is replace the files in the game with the files in the zip. You'll need to dive fairly deep: The files you need to change are below /steamapps/common/Xenonauts2/assets/assets/xenonauts/template/. I would strongly advise that you make backups of the files you are going to replace, also don't report any bugs with changed files - bug reports should be made on vanilla unchanged files. 

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