Please be aware these ideas are only at an early stage of testing, so there's a good chance that they will change substantially during development - assuming they survive at all (we're pretty ruthless when it comes to cutting new features that aren't adding much)! This thread is intended to explain a number of ideas collectively intended to make the Geoscape rather more interesting to play. It was a rather passive experience in the first Xenonauts because all you were doing was reacting to waves of attacking UFOs, and I think it can be made more reactive and strategic. So here's a few ideas I think might help: Starting Relations / UFO Relations:
Assume that you start with 100 Relations in each region, and that the game does not give you any Relations for shooting down UFOs - although of course shooting down a UFO does prevent that UFO from inflicting Relations damage (assuming it was on an aggressive mission and not a passive resupply UFO etc). Orbital Bombardment:
The first idea is the simplest one: the game opens with an alien space station appearing in orbit above Earth. Every 10 days, the station fires a powerful energy beam and obliterates a city in the region with the highest Relations, causing -20 Relations in that region. Other ideas below provide ways to counterbalance this regular loss (the damage could be lower on easier difficulty settings too). I feel like this raises the stakes of the game. The aliens aren't messing about; the casualties are mounting with every passing week and you have to consistently be making adequate forward progress in order to stop the aliens from bombing your funding regions into submission. Falling behind the invasion curve for any length of time in an X-Com game is effectively game over, so this system ensures that a losing game doesn't drag out for literally months like it could in the first Xenonauts. Technology Proliferation:
The first way to gain Relations in the game is to research new technology that is useful to your funding regions - weapons, armour and aircraft. When you research a new tier of these items you will immediately be granted +10 Relations to every region in the game. Local forces soldiers on relevant missions will be equipped with the appropriate weapons / armour 30 days after you have researched them. Aerial terror sites will now include a squadron of friendly local forces interceptors and these will also be upgraded to the new aircraft type 30 days after you've researched it. Signal Uplinks:
Each funding region contains between three and five signal uplinks, which are permanent icons on the Geoscape representing a local government with which you can co-ordinate (or possibly their local equivalent of the X-Com program). For $250,000 you can "buy" the signal uplink and gain control over it. This will give you +10 Relations and +$100,000 funding in the local region, and will also add 2 scientists and 2 engineers to the hiring pool. Clearly these uplinks quickly pay for themselves ... assuming you can defend them. Alien bombers can permanently destroy signal uplinks you control (which causes -10 Relations and wipes the funding bonus), and if you lose the region then you also lose all signal uplinks in this region. The eagle-eyed among you will probably recognise this as being very similar to the satellite system from the first XCOM. It failed a little in XCOM because the "satellite rush" was clearly the best strategy, but I think this only happened because there wasn't much of a strategy layer - if you could keep winning your ground missions, there was no penalty to overextending. I actually think it's a much better fit for Xenonauts where you need to be able to protect them with your aircraft to keep the benefits. I like this idea because it's fundamentally quite satisfying to physically expand your organisation across the world, but it potentially opens up new ways to balance the Geoscape base positioning. Right now the most important thing is to cover as much territory as possible with your bases, so also having to take into account the resources contained within those regions could make for more interesting decisions (particularly if we made different uplinks worth different values etc). Infiltrator Assassination Mission:
Finally, I want to mention the VIP Assassination missions. These missions involve attacking a military base in the local region to kill or capture an alien infiltrator (a human with control implants) within the base. Capturing the infiltrator alive would award you an experienced soldier, although they need to recover from their brain surgery. I'm not quite sure how we'll tie these into the Geoscape - potentially some of the Signal Uplinks will be blocked by Infiltrators at the start of the game? Anyway, the key thing is that you lose Relations in the local region based on how many innoncent guards you kill. This means you'll want to research decent (ranged) stun weapons before you tackle an Infiltrator mission ... and you'll also want to consider proliferation. If you've just researched a new tier of weapons or armour, you'll probably want to do the Infiltrator missions before the local forces start carrying those shiny new Plasma Rifles you just shared with them. Conclusions: These ideas are all quite nice individually, but I particularly like the way many of them seem to dovetail nicely together. Proliferation is great, but you want to deal with Infiltrators before the locals get their new tech. Building new Uplinks is great, but if you're at 100 Relations in a region you have to consider whether it's better to grab the scientists / engineers / money now and waste the Relations bonus, or wait until the next Orbital Bombardment hits to extract maximum value. There's a bit of push and pull that was lacking in the first game. Of course, these ideas will probably change a lot once we start testing them in the game - but I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts and suggestions on this stuff!