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CommanderFoxPrime

Let's talk Crazy: Setting up a Post-Xenonauts 1 setting

Is this even a good idea?  

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  1. 1. Is this even a good idea?

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Well, I've been playing Xenonauts on and off and one day I simply went 'huh, the end of the game is the perfect thing to start a setting with' so I jot down some notes, played with the idea for fanfiction, even started creating a few fanfics that worked with the concept. That and creating a 'Physics + Starship Builder'

 

So, let's start with how things are likely going to go:

  • At the end of the game, it's raining Praetorian tech, meaning everyone and their brother is likely to reverse engineer it sooner or later which is going to do horrible things to world stability
  • By the time you get plasma, the local forces have started getting lasers out the wazoo, and likely alienium grenades/missiles too
  • It's the Cold War, so... yeah... things are going to be interesting there on out
  • A common theme of my walkthroughs is that at least a few hundred million die on Earth, even on easy. Partially because of how quickly things ramp up compared to X-COM/XCOM (at most, you've got two years to defeat the invaders, even on easy)... so yeah we've got to get through the fallout of that.
  • The entire invasion looks half-cocked from the getgo, meaning that it is likely that something got the Praetorians scared enough to go in hard and without preparation in the first place and I don't mean having their scout self-destruct either.
  • Some of what Chief Scientist Condescending said was based on an incomplete picture... particularly to alienium and the elements needed to produce alien/Praetorian alloys with a handful of others being part of the deal due to cracking the Praetorian language and encryption (as well as reading how the Praetorians exploited their thrawls gene pool for their own ends)
  • Praetorians always need two things: genes and resources. Humans provided the genes, and it would be discovered that the outer solar system would have the latter.
  • Initially, it looked like the head Praetorian of the invasion ended the threat of the Praetorians and their thrawls... but apparently the Praetorians aren't as cohesive nor good losers as once thought, so on Earth (and in the outer planets) humanity still has to fight Praetorians and their thrawls, upping the casualty count

Well, that's the basic idea that went into this... leading to the Xenonauts into a GDI style organization.

 

You guys are free to discuss as much as possible because I think that this might be an interesting topic as a whole...

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On 9/16/2020 at 9:48 AM, dasufo said:

What you would have to get straight is this: is the post-invasion setting about the aliens or about the humans.  It isn't that they are mutually exclusive choices, you could each do both topics just with chronological separation i.e. after the invasion finishes you do something on the human conflict and when that is done you do something on a second alien invasion, coloured by the events of the human conflict.  However, if you want to get into the meat of either idea you'd need to focus on one at a time.

Taking your GDI idea, if you set up a premise that alien technology had disrupted the balance between state and non-state actors and given small groups of motivated and technically savvy individuals the power to threaten whole governments, whether through terrorism, hyper-advanced flying vehicles or weapons of mass destruction, then you could have your brotherhood of Nod style group causing mayhem on the world map which you would counter with teams of GDI counter-terrorists from your various bases around the world.  If you included an element of secrecy about the operations, drawing from something out of Tom Clancy's works, a desire to get the job done without anyone realising who was doing it or why, then that could give a solid new dynamic to play with that leads on from the cold war era quite directly.  Your soldiers might wear different uniforms and use different equipment depending on where and who they were fighting.   Think Rainbow Six meets Xenonauts meets C&C and I think it could be very fun.

Ofcourse, taking the Praetorian idea, you would move the map into space and turn the tactical ground combat into tactical space boarding combat.  Xenonauts would be drawn from marines instead of the infantry, the goal would be to disable or cripple enemy space ships and then, like in Space Breach, get in and complete an objective.  Aircraft would be replaced by spaceships, squardrons by fleets.  It would all be rather analogous to the alien invasion style game but with a real facelift.  The aim would probably be to knock out the alien bases on Mars, Venus and orbiting Jupiter (where else could Aliens be? :)).  However, you'd have to fend off many invasion fleets first to get the alien hulks and technology necessary to build your own battleships with the range, speed and firepower to reach the other planets and strike.  To keep the tactical combat at the heart of the affair, many fleet battles would be decided by or end up in boarding actions to complete where you get technology, capture new aliens, cripple valuable hulks for later retrofitting or perhaps knock out dangerous targets like enemy battleships that realistically wouldn't be capture-able by any kind of human mounted effort at this tech base.  To keep the base missions about tactical combat, you would devise some kind of alien shield tech which, like the battle for Endor in Star Wars Return of the Jedi, requires a small team to go to the surface of the far moon and blow things up that then would allow your battleships to finish the job. 

I don't know about you, but I would enjoy playing a scenario like that.  I even think both scenarios could lead on one from another easily enough.  The necessary changes in the Earth's military-industrial base could be achieved over the course of the human conflict that paves the way for the attempt to repel the aliens from our solar system once and for all.

Well, the basic idea is that due to some political maneuvering by the Commander (aka the player avatar), the deaths of so many, the infrastructure damage that such a conflict would incur, among other things, would eventually lead to a situation where you've got this group on your hands that isn't doing much (initially) after the invasion. So there would be a lot of rebuilding and what not to do and a lot of people getting their hands on alien tech, something that even our Head Scientist outright stated that it shouldn't be in everyone else's hands. This would lead to a situation where the Xenonauts-turned-GDI has to not only juggle trying to keep as much of the technology away from the various human governments (especially the technology behind Singularity Torpedoes) and this would later spread across to Mars and Jupiter. So, in essence, the Xenonauts has to make sure that WW3 (or later an interplanetary war) doesn't happen after an alien invasion on the 'home front'...

 

I was thinking of having Saturn be the primary planet of operations for the Praetorians after the invasion, and what they have is almost entirely dedicated to mining and construction, not combat like the main fleet. The head Praetorian there knows that humanity managed to kill the head of the invasion fleet, so it'll be cautious so it wouldn't suffer the same fate. This leads to the Xenonauts going out and fighting the equivalent of CBs...

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1 hour ago, dasufo said:

My question is this: why would keeping the alien technology out of other government's hands be a good thing?

You might present a conceit that the player and his organisation is morally or spiritually superior to everyone else, but that really is suggesting that the Xenonauts are a kind of scientific religious order, rather than a bunch of killers and workaholics brought together for the express purpose of murdering extra terrestrials.

This isn't a trick question, your story hinges upon being able to explain in two or three sentences why the proliferation of alien technology would be bad.  Why would the power to feed entire nations, found new metallurgical industries, unlock the secrets of limitless power for the entire world be in of itself a bad thing?  With the nuclear bomb came the nuclear power plant.  With new ways of generating heat you can fashion entirely new types of steel.  With advances in genetics you could toughen and enhance foodstuffs to grow in new climates and resist pests.

How could the Xenonauts claim they have the right to hold onto this technology?  Are they the United Federation of Planets?  Are they even the Brotherhood of Steel?  I'm asking this to help you generate your setting and get it off the ground.  It is often useful to have someone work as a foil against your line of thought, it is like having someone hold onto the fabric while you to weave the parts together that don't yet connect.

Actually think about it for a moment. This is during the height of the Cold War, with two sides wanting the advanced technologies to further their ideologies (this is more or less spelled out in the epilogue of the game's victory ending). With such advanced technologies, MAD is invalidated... leading to a situation where war is certain. With the various technologies including various bits of insanely advanced biotech and nanotech from the Praetorians, you can see where this is going.

 

The sad thing is, this would be effectively impossible, leading to a situation where you've got four sides outside of the aliens working their asses off near Saturn: NATO, Warsaw Pact, the Xenonauts, and everyone else aka the 'third world'. The Xenonauts will have the best tech, of course, but that is due to the due diligence of the RnD staff of the Xenonauts than anything special about them. So the Xenonauts -later rebranded as the Global Defense Force or something similar- has to juggle making sure that WW3 on Earth (and later, an interplanetary war) doesn't happen, keeping terrorists with alien toys from causing problems, and fighting the alien CBs...

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26 minutes ago, dasufo said:

Another question then,

What part of mutually assured destruction is invalidated, specifically, how is the destructive power of each nuclear arsenals neutralised and why do alien weapons of similar or greater power not recreate a state of mutually assured destruction?

Two words: Pulse Lasers. Especially if NATO and WARSAW PACT discover that the plasma sheath that going hypersonic or undergoing reentry creates is transparent to UV light. Hook base defense pulse lasers (UV band of course) to a nuclear power plant and you've got something that invalidates ICBMs, SLBMs, and pretty much MAD for it makes nuclear war survivable if outright invalidated because there is no way to deliver nuclear weapons to their target.

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Also, if you are pushing the Cold War ideological split angle, then most certainly Xenonauts would be forced into multiple factions and its members would return to their respective power blocks, once the alien threat was over.  If you are pushing the religious-scientific moral superiority angle then you would have to establish why a Soviet soldier or scientist would discard his ideology and his people for the sake of this new faith that binds him to his enemies.  Alternatively, if you are pushing an humans-vs-aliens has united the world angle (a.l.a Star Trek's backstory) then you would have to establish why the alien threat is enough to hold men who can't stand each other in some kind of permanent alliance.

Thing is, you've got two sides that absolutely hate each other, and really the only thing that is keeping them from going to war with each other is nuclear weapons. Now remove those nuclear weapons from the picture...

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While I see how you are trying to depict a nuanced post-invasion setting, stories have a very logical character to them and logic is decidedly black and white.  It is very difficult to specify the consequences of a nuanced situation and therefore very difficult to translate into a game or to communicate to an audience through a narrative, which are inherently logical constructs, without relying significantly on pre-existing frameworks that they already accept or are familiar with. 

If only some of the Xenonauts return to their power blocks or the Xenonauts become maintained by only some of the world's nations, as often is tried when trying to introduce nuance cheaply to a situation, then you run into an issue where the Xenonauts might continue as an independent group for a short time but its inherent nature as a multi-power block international organisation will be compromised and it won't really be the "Xenonauts" anymore but something different, something closer to what NATO actually is.  Therefore you just have NATO augmented via Xenonauts, Warsaw Pact and the third world as factions, which isn't really what you seem to want.

Above I have pointed out how just a handful of your propositions crash into each other without a great deal of explanation, the kind of explanation many players either won't think is necessary (they will just reject what you intended as silly) or can't actually engage with (lack of time, energy or ability).  In short, it's got to be simpler and clearer.  The nuance and detail comes after you've built the foundations because, in the end, the setting is there for someone, who isn't you, to sit, follow along and agree with.  If they can't agree with it then they will reject it.

I was thinking that the Xenonauts start out similarly to GDI. GDI wasn't always the independent group you got to know, it started out as a UN organization with some UN oversight but is mostly independent. Eventually, it becomes fully independent and takes over.

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Just now, dasufo said:

Then why do the aliens not use pulse lasers or something similar to shoot down your air to air missiles?  If the cold war era nations with their computing power can shoot down an ICBM, let alone handle tracking, isolating and eliminating a hundred of them launched in a salvo, even if you postulate they are using alien computers, then the aliens with mature implementations of this same technology could easily knock a small aircraft missile out of the sky.

Lets take a wikipedia impact speed for an ICBM to make a simple comparison.  They are meant to strike the ground in the order of 7 kilometers a second.  Lets take a missile from the 1980s that is exceptionally fast, hypersonic (Mach 6).  It is doing 2 kilometers per second.  An AIM-9 side-winder from 1956 and onwards is Mach 2.5.  That is 0.85 kilometers a second.  Even if my data for the ICBM is modern, they most certainly are going to be coming in a lot faster than an air-to-air missile.

The size of say a Peacekeeper is meant to be about 22 metres by 2 metres.  A sidewinder is about 3 meters by 0.127 meters.  But the change in speed per second is in the order of 7000 meters or in the order of 850 meters.  Consequently, the speed of the missile dominates the calculation for adjusting targeting coordinates much more than its size.

So, if these ICBMs could be shot out of the air by some prototype anti-ballistic missile lasers based on alien technological principles, then, the Aliens themselves who grasp this technology at a much more intimate level could easily implement point-defence on their UFOs and be immune to Xenonaut's air to air missiles. In fact, they probably could shoot the autocannon shells out of the air.

It creates a fairly huge logical inconsistency.  As the Aliens don't shoot your anti-air-missiles out of the air, how do the nations of the world with their limited grasp of the technology, come up with a far more powerful weapon system?

Largely because they didn't need to, as their UFOs were more than agile enough to doge AAMs although the modifications to make them work in our atmosphere did reduce the agility a bit. They are immune to ICBMs though.

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