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[Testing] Orbital Bombardment, Proliferation & Signal Uplinks

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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!

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The Orbital Bombardment idea has a lot of potential, but I think having it start almost from the get-go would cause some issues. Mostly because in the first 30 days, or even the first 60 days it's highly unlikely that I'm going to be able to get enough air coverage to prevent random ufos from damaging funding blocs that I can't reach. The random nature of waves is currently (mostly) absorable, because I can spread out to cover the most damaged blocs in an organic manner, but bombardments on top of random waves might create losing situations I can't do anything about. 

What I would suggest is give a period of grace before the shots start falling - narratively, allow time for the space station to be built and give some time for the player to get his feet wet. Perhaps bring back the DEFCON tracker, only this time it's affiliated observatories watching the progress of the space station's construction. 

 

EDIT: Thinking about it further from a narrative perspective, you could build that into a set of textbox-only vignettes - the building of the space station, the first shot fired, large spacecraft docking at the station, and so on and so forth. 

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6 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

The Orbital Bombardment idea has a lot of potential, but I think having it start almost from the get-go would cause some issues. Mostly because in the first 30 days, or even the first 60 days it's highly unlikely that I'm going to be able to get enough air coverage to prevent random ufos from damaging funding blocs that I can't reach. The random nature of waves is currently (mostly) absorable, because I can spread out to cover the most damaged blocs in an organic manner, but bombardments on top of random waves might create losing situations I can't do anything about. 

What I would suggest is give a period of grace before the shots start falling - narratively, allow time for the space station to be built and give some time for the player to get his feet wet. Perhaps bring back the DEFCON tracker, only this time it's affiliated observatories watching the progress of the space station's construction. 

 

EDIT: Thinking about it further from a narrative perspective, you could build that into a set of textbox-only vignettes - the building of the space station, the first shot fired, large spacecraft docking at the station, and so on and so forth. 

Yeah, all this is subject to balancing - but at first glance it seems more likely to me that the effect isn't powerful enough. If you assume no other relations gain or loss, it'd take the orbital bombardment 310 days to reduce six regions from 100 Relations down to 0 Relations. Ten months is a long time in a game like this.

Also remember that, ironically, the regions that have taken damage from UFOs are the last ones to get hit by the bombardment (it targets the regions with the highest relations each time).

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4 hours ago, Chris said:

Yeah, all this is subject to balancing - but at first glance it seems more likely to me that the effect isn't powerful enough. If you assume no other relations gain or loss, it'd take the orbital bombardment 310 days to reduce six regions from 100 Relations down to 0 Relations. Ten months is a long time in a game like this.

Also remember that, ironically, the regions that have taken damage from UFOs are the last ones to get hit by the bombardment (it targets the regions with the highest relations each time).

You can't take something like Orbital Bombardment out of the context of waves of UFOs. Waves of UFOs form the bread and butter of the game, so a mechanic which reliably and periodically reduces the relationship HP (hereafter adddressed as R-HP) of any funding bloc has to be addressed within the primary mechanic of randomly scattered pixels that move in a semi random manner across the whole map and randomly cause R-HP damage over time to the funding bloc they just happen to be over. In that context, Orbital Bombardment doesn't have to be particularly powerful. It has to be a tipping pont - to be in the right place at the right time, in a similar fashion to the way a grenade doesn't have to be paricularly powerful - it just has to do enough damage that the next burst of shots will kill a squaddie. Now, one can argue that UFOs already do this, and yes they do. By the end of the first month, if you have a bad spread of waves the R-HP of a funding bloc you can't reach can be in tatters. However, it's possible to do something about UFOs, whereas it will be impossible to do anything about the space station - unless perhaps I can pay for something like fuelled ATLAS-2 rockets to be flung at the station to distract it. That is why I would ask for a period of grace - you just can't do anything about the space station, so it could feel disheartening to have the station start zapping away when the player is at their weakest. 

 

Concerning Signal Uplinks

Would it be possible to roll it into strategic objectives? It seems to me that while one can set a high fee as a barrier to entry if the uplink can pay for itself fairly quickly then an early investment into uplinks would pay strong dividends and be a more optimal route to success. Each uplink purchased would roll into investing into the next one until you reach a critical mass where the uplinks you have, pay for the next one you're eyeing up. If it were rolled into strategic objectives then the type of resource required moves from money to human and perhaps you could set the bar a little differently. Perhaps the rank of the squaddie assigned to the uplink directly relates to the bonus you get from the uplink, so if you want the $100k, R-HP and human resources you need to assign Colonel or higher to the uplink. A private gets maybe $5k and a point of 2 of R-HP, so to get the big bucks, you have to put top flight squaddies in the driving seat, depriving you of squaddies you could need. 

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On 1/25/2020 at 4:33 PM, Max_Caine said:

You can't take something like Orbital Bombardment out of the context of waves of UFOs. Waves of UFOs form the bread and butter of the game, so a mechanic which reliably and periodically reduces the relationship HP (hereafter adddressed as R-HP) of any funding bloc has to be addressed within the primary mechanic of randomly scattered pixels that move in a semi random manner across the whole map and randomly cause R-HP damage over time to the funding bloc they just happen to be over. In that context, Orbital Bombardment doesn't have to be particularly powerful. It has to be a tipping pont - to be in the right place at the right time, in a similar fashion to the way a grenade doesn't have to be paricularly powerful - it just has to do enough damage that the next burst of shots will kill a squaddie. Now, one can argue that UFOs already do this, and yes they do. By the end of the first month, if you have a bad spread of waves the R-HP of a funding bloc you can't reach can be in tatters. However, it's possible to do something about UFOs, whereas it will be impossible to do anything about the space station - unless perhaps I can pay for something like fuelled ATLAS-2 rockets to be flung at the station to distract it. That is why I would ask for a period of grace - you just can't do anything about the space station, so it could feel disheartening to have the station start zapping away when the player is at their weakest. 

 

Concerning Signal Uplinks

Would it be possible to roll it into strategic objectives? It seems to me that while one can set a high fee as a barrier to entry if the uplink can pay for itself fairly quickly then an early investment into uplinks would pay strong dividends and be a more optimal route to success. Each uplink purchased would roll into investing into the next one until you reach a critical mass where the uplinks you have, pay for the next one you're eyeing up. If it were rolled into strategic objectives then the type of resource required moves from money to human and perhaps you could set the bar a little differently. Perhaps the rank of the squaddie assigned to the uplink directly relates to the bonus you get from the uplink, so if you want the $100k, R-HP and human resources you need to assign Colonel or higher to the uplink. A private gets maybe $5k and a point of 2 of R-HP, so to get the big bucks, you have to put top flight squaddies in the driving seat, depriving you of squaddies you could need. 

I don't think it's worth debating in detail the random chance of getting screwed over by orbital bombardment in theoretical terms; it'll be best just to test it (there's a good chance a test version of it will be in the next release). But from my perspective the fact that the bombardment hits the region with the highest relations means there's very low chance of that happening, as any region that falls below the others in terms of relations just doesn't get hit by orbital bombardment so the chance of being tag-teamed by both the bombardment and the random UFO spawns (which are also not fully random any more) should be very small. But we'll see how it plays out.

Yes, signal uplinks could be handled via strategic operations - in fact that's how we're testing them at the moment. I'm not sure it's a good idea to give recruitment benefits based on the level of the soldiers involved because you don't get Colonels etc until towards the end of the game, but there's any number of ways the construction of signal uplinks could be handled if the basic setup proves weak. In the current design if you rush Signal Uplinks then you'll initially be monetarily rich but you'll be wasting the Relations gain, and you're then likely to permanently lose a lot of those Uplinks (i.e. you can't rebuild them) because you can't properly defend them. Again I suspect it'll just come down to testing and fine-tuning over Early Access - assuming we like the overall feel of the system.

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I like the idea of being constantly attritioned by orbital bombardments. But be careful if you're thinking of making the mechanic any more involved or complex. Going further might restrict how much autonomy we have in the strategy layer.

Speaking of autonomy, I always liked having to decide whether I should stick with a run and try to salvage it or to restart; led to some memorable moments. So potentially dragging out a game-over run was never a big deal personally. 

Sure, I admit to fast-forwarding through an entire month once just to use the monthly report to estimate if the run was salvagable. Followed by loading back to the start of that month and using the 'prophecy' to do better haha. That probably sounds horrifying to Chris and the other designers but that was an outlier.

And finally, for some reason permanently losing uplinks just sounds frustrating. Of course losing countries and soldiers is the bread and butter of xcom and xenonauts but for some reason losing uplinks forever just doesn't sound fun. Everything else about uplinks sounds great though

Edited some phrasing 

Edited by jetblackpope

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Nice Ideas, why not trying them. After the Game get some old light upgraded things back (like the old Basebuildup and the secondary bases are like the Main-Base) we need such new things. A cool Stuff would like that the Aliens could hit such a Secondary-Base with the Bombardement, which means that this base is took out for 1 Month or better 2 Month. That will give the Game much more Potential and make it exciting.

The Main-Base should be where she was planed originally in Greenland and can´t found by the Aliens. Many such hidden Bases were in the 2nd WW, why not in Xenonauts 2.

The Secondary Bases are the Decoys later on, esp. if they have to secure the Data-Links and such. I liked that in UFO ET, where the Aliens attacked the secondary Bases to destroy or overtake them to get the Raw Material they needed.

 

 

 

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I like these ideas.

Orbital bombardment would be raising the stakes, which is a good thing. X1 is a game about an alien invasion but the stakes somehow never feel high. It's also true that a loss takes forever. I've tested what happens in X1 if I stop doing anything (just fast-forward without launching any aircraft), and it takes 3-4 months to lose even in that case. If Orbital Bombardment does 60 relations damage per month, that means a high-relations region can survive an entire month of bombardment without any positive relations events, which sounds good to me for a first implementation.

Technology proliferation sounds great. I expect that the gameplay effect of upgraded local forces would not be very significant, but this kind of feature is great for flavour. It might be a good tie-in to another request of mine, different local forces units on different maps. A military base map should feature friendly soldiers that are decent fighters, while armed farmers should be less Rambo.

Not sure about the gameplay particulars of signal uplinks, but I'm glad to see an idea that expands the gameplay to some Geoscape locations, a bit like earlier X2 design ideas. There's currently nothing on the Geoscape except your bases, which I consider to be a flaw.

Infiltrator assassination missions sound amazing. Variety in mission objectives is great to have, and having a mission where you're encouraged to minimize fatalities would be a great change of pace. I can imagine it would be very satisfying to capture the infiltrator with no casualties among the guards. Careful balancing is needed here (and for terror missions!) to make sure that the fate of the locals actually matters.

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Some thoughts have been bouncing around in my head about the above, just putting them there, in case maybe they can be worked in somehow. 

So Mount & Blade and Armored Core on the brain at the same time got me thinking, because when it comes to Terror missions, they, in reality, are maybe just a few minutes of fighting in real time, and one side dies. I hate to pull the realism card, but that was an entire battleship. But what if they were a more drawn out endevour? I don't mean like TFTD, I mean like MnB.

Namely the fight happens for several days, with reinforcements on both sides. 

For example: For terror missions, it's going to be a big ground battle, so you get to bring 3 drop ships. For each ship, you spawn in with your team, and the locals come in with their team. The aliens can spawn a maximum number, and everyone does the usual fight.   When your units are wounded, depleted, tired, etc, you have the option to order a regroup by pulling out of the fight. At that point the next team would go in, and the locals would be replaced (presumably at the cost of relation). You would then go in fresh, on the same map. Maybe if you beat the aliens, they can start sending in units from the edges Tactics Ogre style or something?

I'm honestly not sure how it would apply in this scale, but the say MnB did it was, say, two armies of 200 meet each other. Each of them fight with 100 or so, they have it out, and one side wins that battle. Afterwards, they both regroup, and go at it again, replacing lost units. I mentioned Armored Core earlier because they regularly wanted to have battles the engine couldn't handle in the early games, so they just had units spawn from doorways that weren't in sight, but relatively far away, to give that feeling of trickling reinforcements. Tactics Ogre did this by just having 10 or so extras on some maps, which would walk in after a set number of turns. 

I just always wondered why we couldn't send in a second team to clean up when there was one guy left, or have terror missions with more spectacle. I mentioned it before, but my favorite moments of X-Division are those where you find pockets of random grunts fighting off these aliens, and actually holding them back.  You could even send the second drop ship in Xenonauts, it just wouldn't do anything. 

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@Coffee Potato: Nice Idea, if you have a player which wanna sit for 6 hours only for a Terror Mission. That was the same Problem X-Com 2 TftD had and which wasn´t finished by about 70 to 75 % of the Gamers. You know what I mean?

Terror Missions with unlimited Numbers of Aliens, Troops of yourself etc. are a never Ending-Process. That would be worse and the players are going back to new XCom, Battletech or whatever similar. There the Battles are ballanced and not so long. You have 1 Transport of Soldiers or a mixed Crew or Battlemechs and have to finish the Job. Such a Terror Mission has to be accomplished in 45 Minutes or 60 Minutes maximum without brakes for thinking.

Not 6 hours + without brakes for thinking. Why I say that?

1. If you had played X-Com TftD then you know the Maps were big, sometimes to big. Esp. in Terror Missions (like Liners) and enemy Bases (like Artefakt-Bases). That was the Main-Problem why only 25% of the Gamers finished that Title. I too have Problems to finish it, after I get it on Steam in the old X-Com Bundle.

2. The Tech-Tree was and is not fair. If you had researched wrong, you had to beginn from new on or if you had luck you have a Save-Game before Wrong research. Today that Problem is solved, because you can find the correct Research-Line for TftD in the Internet.

3. The Game could be end faster then you think after you lost some Money-Givers. Same can be here in Xenonauts 2, but you have a chance to react with many strategys.

But the to hard Terror Missions and the Idea here to integrate such Terror-Mission or something similar with a long Playtime on the Map will not give the Game players, it will throw them away from the Game.

 

 

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What I'm hoping to suggest isn't a TFTD type of setup, but more of a general idea of a fluid back and forth of sorts. Maybe Banner Saga's bigger battles are a better example. Just a situation where you have your people there, but they aren't the only ones fighting. You can risk them to boost your rewards/mitigate losses, but can also play it safe, and let's say order the local armies in to clear out some of the fight in an auto resolve of sorts before going in. Or maybe the option to go back and get more supplies or people. Just adding more approaches beyond "land and start shooting."

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What if the second Team (if we can do such a combination and have a second Team) have to secure the People with the Police and other Helpers, while the first Team (Strike Team) has to fight the Aliens. After the People get secured, the second Team and other Helpers help the Strike Team. That minimises the Terror Mission Time and all earas get coverd.

 

 

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---
In regards to "Orbital Bombardment"-topic, I've mentioned this somewhere else earlier and will once again mention it:
Generally no one likes to their controls being taken away / losing their agency.
What this more translates in this context is that players are going feel very cheated when there is no clear counter or prevention of the "instant-damage"-moves and generally this for the most part removes strategic and tactical-depth/choices
(especially if just right from get-go we're going with the city-wiping "Harvester City Destroyer"-doomsday-rays from "Indepence Day"-film(s)).

Comparably the score-graphs-system in UFO/open-Xcom gives a constant pressure while also allowing the freedom to fight against it, even if they're limited
(since basically the only choice in those games before you get radar-coverage is by patrolling founding-nation-areas with the interceptors).
(( For a reference, here is a refresher link to "UFO Activity Graph / MUFON (Mutual UFO Network)":
https://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php/UFO_Detection ))


The "panic-system" in 2012-Xcom that forced to make choices between each of the founding-region due the simultaneous Terror or Abduction-mission was something majority of players didn't like especially since there was no way to prevent the Terror-missions even with all the satellite-coverage and all the technology unlocked and built
(it's been a while since I played the game so I might mis-remember some mechanics).


All-in-all, this all can be summarized like this:
I for one need some actual counters or things that allow me to prepare and otherwise diminish the instant-damage;
otherwise this is like say nukes in "Civilization 5" all over again which just are "press this button for instant-damage"-thing
(and I know, the "counter" is to keep your army-units apart alongside not being garrisoned in cities...).

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As for the "Signal Uplinks", I hope they these would be repair/rebuildable.
Though possibly due the lore/story-setting of "Xenonauts 2", perhaps the rebuilding-aspect would better/only work in the "Xenonauts United" which would be a lot more global-military-focused instead of just "small-strike-force-squad"-focused game.
(( Here a link to that very-work-in-writing-progress "Xenonauts United"-conceptualization:
https://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/index.php?/topic/19633-xenonauts-united-the-ultimate-strategic-planetary-defence-simulator ))


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If the idea of the Aliens instantly opening the invasion with constant, weekly, city bombardments feels a bit premature or rushed, perhaps the concept can be tweaked to feel more like it is escalating along with the conflict. So at the start of the game the incursions would be on the smaller side, instead of a orbital bombardment a city would suffer minor sabotage or assault events that cannot be interceded. 

As an example, in week 2 of the game, the city of Novosibirsk in Russia/Soviet Union/Whatever suffers an sustained and unexplained power outage, with rumours purporting sightings of alien forces near power plants, this event would knock off an amount of reputation that region has with the Xenonauts. Next week, a government building in Omsk, Russia, is bombed, with forensics purporting there to be plasma residue around the bomb site. Further hindering relations with Russia. 

I think the idea is simply that the scale of these attacks will escalate as the game goes on, so in the first months its these small, terrorist like, attacks, but eventually you'll get to the later stages of the game where these alien disruption tactics go from minor bombings and sabotage, to blatant mass orbital attacks across entire cities and wide scale destruction of vital city assets.

-------

In terms of explaining why the Xenonauts cannot respond to these. The simple explanation would be that these attacks are spur of the moment attacks that, generally, require little planning, preperation or logistical support and can be executed in such a quick time that there's no realistic way the Xenonauts could respond to counter them. 

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One further note, if we feel that the player should have some level of control over stopping or downplaying these events. Perhaps rip a feature from XCOM Long War, and set a system where a player can expand resources (money, alloys, soldiers, bases, etc) to "reinforce" a region to an extent, perhaps making it that if you expend resources to further help a region fortify and prepare for these attacks, that their severity or damage to Xenonauts reputation in that area will be reduced. So you have a trade off where you spend limited resources in a region to try and preserve your relationship with that region. 

There'd have to be a limit of how much you could reinforce a region or how often. Then there's wondering if this is getting excessive. But it might give the player a sense of control in dealing with these attacks. 

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I think we'll test the basic idea before we make any changes; it's not like you can't do anything about the lost relations - you can counterabalance the alien attacks by improving the morale of the funding regions either by improving your local infrastructure in the region (i.e. building signal uplinks) or by researching advanced weapons / armour that they can use to battle the aliens.

The game will be balanced that if you keep pace with the alien invasion you'll be earning enough Relations from expanding over the Geoscape and researching alien tech to counterbalance the losses from Orbital Bombardment, but once you reach the end of the game you won't have the option to stall out the game indefintely because you'll have run out of tech to research and signal uplinks to build. Similarly if you fall behind the alien invasion you'll not only be unable to stop the UFOs, you won't be making the progress you need to counterbalance Orbital Bombardment and therefore the game will end rather more quickly. But if you're playing fine then the system won't affect you much except making the game feel a bit more "high-stakes".

A lot of games have a mechanic to ensure a player has to keep making forward progress in the game. For example, most survival games require your character to consume food to survive to ensure the player has to venture out and explore the world to find the food that will stop them starving to death (the only time this would represent a loss of agency to player is if there weren't any sources of food for them to find). Here the "forward progress" is expanding the territory you are defending and unlocking new technology - obviously something a player should be doing anyway!

That's how it works in my head, at least. We'll have to see how it feels in the game.

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I think that sounds really awesome. As long as there's ways to come back from a few back to back losses, I LOVE the idea. I know it's got to be annoying to hear at this point, but that's similar to the XDiv approach, sort of. Phase 1 is mostly infantry ground skirmishes, Phase 2 is when you get a ton of expansion to both sides, Phase 3 it turns into an intense map-wiping open war by both sides, crazy tech, mechs, and all manner of madness everywhere....and Phase 4 they just start farting out Bases or Forts every week, the air fights will usually down half or more of your 8 base air force like nothing, and battles are absolutely nightmarish. At the same time, the locals are following a similar to the above, so you see cops running around with burst fire Pulse Shotguns, armies running around with Gauss Rifles, etc. It's a system that feels absolutely amazing in at least that practice. With some official touch, I have no doubt it'll kick all manner of relevant donkey-related materials. 

This sounds like it addresses the main complaint with Phase 4 of XD, at least in my book, of having to raid forts constantly. By just having them attack past your defenses and right into your UN Facebook, it sounds like the feeling would be there without the grind. 

Please find a way to make AI "Sniffing" a bit less obvious when the time comes, please, please, please. No one likes losing an A Team to a blind toss over a fence into your whole team, unless some sort of aerial view mechanic exists. Glad to see that holding doors with units on the other side still works, though. 

Edited by Coffee Potato

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@Pave on your point about orbital bombardment, loss of agency and insta-damage:

You're right about the loss of agency being annoying, but I don't think insta-damage has to be a problem, especially if relations (or R-HP) can be healed in the longer term. You know the tutorial in the Firaxis XCOM? You lose 3 soldiers out of a squad of 4. It is brutal and because the tutorial is scripted there is nothing you can do about it. But it is an excellent introduction to the game. I think it is good to cultivate a feeling where you can't 100% the strategy layer. Thematically, the game is about scrambling and struggling to fight off an invasion - but it often plays out as whooping the crap out of some aliens despite their superior numbers with superior tech. It is good to lose a little bit. In XCOM, the first phase of the game is about managing rising panic levels across the globe - essentially you're putting out fires rather than fighting back. It is frustrating and unsustainable, but that is exactly what you want because it drives you to progress the story line. Coasting is not an option.

If anything, I'd say set up the orbital bombardments to be devastating from the start. Have the aliens turn up guns blazing and frying major military sites in the USA, Russia and China. Make the player spend their first month getting their ass kicked. Instigate that as normal. The point is that if the insta-damage is normalised, it shouldn't cause as much stress. The player knows they're going to take a hit periodically, so they don't feel cheated. It just the nature of the game. Imagine it like permadeath. There are loads of games that would be ruined with a quicksave feature, and whilst you crave the opportunity to undo that death, you know the play experience is better for it, and you don't resent the mechanics for being built that way.

Also, not to be that person banging on about realism, but orbital bombardment and other 'local equivalents of X-Com' are precisely what the game needs to drive some internal logic.

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While I do like the idea of orbital bombardment as a feature I am not convinced on the way the target is selected. Why would the enemy only target the one region who most supports you? How would they know who this was? Why would they launch waves of ships against one region only to attack a completely different one with their biggest weapon? Targeting your enemies strongest points isn't usually the best idea. 

I would prefer if the aliens would select a target region, this could still be one of your closest allies to make it more likely the player will be in a position to intercede. They would then spend the charge time of the weapon infiltrating and scouting this region with the aim of finding the juiciest target for their death ray. This could be a large military base, main power station, giant factory complex etc. At the end of the process the aliens fire their death ray onto the target.

The players job is to try and find out where the aliens are focusing, take out their infiltrators, or feed them false information, all with a view to minimise the relations damage when the shot is eventually fired. Instead of hitting a base filled with Xenonauts staunchest local supporters or wiping out the factory producing the new plasma weapons you have supplied they hit a decoy, or a rebel military base that was actually opposing you.

The methods you can employ could vary. Using signal uplinks to intercept communications (science/engineering strategic objectives?), sending soldiers out on strategic objectives to plant fake data or recover/protect real data, ground missions to recover data from enemy ships and capture enemies or infiltrators for interrogation etc etc.

 

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23 hours ago, Gauddlike said:

While I do like the idea of orbital bombardment as a feature I am not convinced on the way the target is selected. Why would the enemy only target the one region who most supports you? How would they know who this was? Why would they launch waves of ships against one region only to attack a completely different one with their biggest weapon? Targeting your enemies strongest points isn't usually the best idea. 

I would prefer if the aliens would select a target region, this could still be one of your closest allies to make it more likely the player will be in a position to intercede. They would then spend the charge time of the weapon infiltrating and scouting this region with the aim of finding the juiciest target for their death ray. This could be a large military base, main power station, giant factory complex etc. At the end of the process the aliens fire their death ray onto the target.

The players job is to try and find out where the aliens are focusing, take out their infiltrators, or feed them false information, all with a view to minimise the relations damage when the shot is eventually fired. Instead of hitting a base filled with Xenonauts staunchest local supporters or wiping out the factory producing the new plasma weapons you have supplied they hit a decoy, or a rebel military base that was actually opposing you.

The methods you can employ could vary. Using signal uplinks to intercept communications (science/engineering strategic objectives?), sending soldiers out on strategic objectives to plant fake data or recover/protect real data, ground missions to recover data from enemy ships and capture enemies or infiltrators for interrogation etc etc.

 

It's mostly for game balance reasons; adding a feature like this keeps the tension and pacing up but it's going to feel unfair to a player if it hits a region that has already suffered badly at the hands of pure randomness (which Max alluded to above), so I decided it should always hit the region best able to absorb the damage. From a lore perspective though I think it makes sense to carry out a show of force against your strongest enemies; it doesn't necessarily derive the greatest military benefit but this is a terror weapon designed to break morale more than a battlefield weapon. If aliens turned up and blew up New York tomorrow, people would be more frightened than if they blew up a small village nobody had ever heard of.

You should also remember that in most victorious campaigns of Xenonauts / XCOM / etc, the player wins EVERY SINGLE battle they fight and will shoot down the vast majority of UFOs spawning in regions they have air cover over (and even in losing campaigns people win almost everything right up to the point they stop winning and the game goes into a death spiral). If you add in ways for the player to defeat the orbital bombardment, it becomes just another mechanic that the player will defeat - and I introduced it as a way to stop the feeling of stalemate that could occur in X1 when you were ahead of the alien invasion and everything was relatively comfortable.

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I think the Space Station is going to add a bit of character to the game. The continual bombardment means by the time Operation: ENDGAME (or its equivalent) rolls around, you're going to positively hate the space station. It's going to be an itch you just can't scratch. If Op: ENDGAME were to perhaps include a raid on said space station, I imagine it's going to be emotional being able to finally take the damn thing down. 

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I have not noticed this orbital bombardment yet, I have only played though to the early February, the relationships do go down, but I am not seeing why.

Is there something on the geosphere that I should look fore, to see this bombardment!

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The Points of Friendship are going down a little 50 / 100. If you do your job good or perfect they won‘t drop down to 10. My lowest are 17 to 20.

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Caveat: I’ve not been keeping up with the X2 lore changes.


Orbital Bombardment:
An escalation through the game, with increasing and multiple threats (that the player may not be able to react to them all) should be able to shape the funding relations.

I’d also wonder why the aliens were invading at all. If they could just stay in orbit and blow up cities until submission is achieved, why bother with the rest of it?

In XCOM, the Temple Ship arrived and just sat there, while missions decreased. The opposite should have been the case, where the player had no option but to launch a desperate end game. At a later point in the game, orbital bombardment makes some sense. Their ground missions having met with resistance forces the aliens into this action.

As a player, I’d be focused on attacking the space station. The Death Star focused the forces of the rebellion into an all-out attack, and I’d be looking to do the same. If that meant that little abduction missions fell by the way side, then so be it. If you have a city killer up there, then defending the cattle on a ranch simply isn’t important.

If attacking the space station isn’t an option, but only game mechanic then it’s a pain. You could do everything you possibly could in a month only for Darth Praetor to pop up and wipe out London. If it’s in the game, then you’d want to have a mission on the thing at some point, where you blow the thing up.

Technology Proliferation:

The distribution of the XCom technology across the globe makes a lot of sense. Nice to see that extend to the fighters too. It would push the aliens into something like a later game bombardment too.

Starting Relations / UFO Relations:
I’d have thought even the sighting of a passive UFO would cause some relations damage. The locals won’t know what it is. They just know that no one bothered to stop it.

Signal Uplinks:
All in the playtesting to see how useful/ fun this one is. Having the aliens target these increasingly as the game goes on, might be a trigger to push the player in the late game. If the aliens know about it, then they should be looking to disable it. Much like how odd it was for them to allow mankind satellites in XCOM. A UFO with an orbital snowplow attachment would have won the game for them.

Infiltrator Assassination Mission
Mission variations are welcome and an XCOM experienced soldier reward is useful. It would be nice to see more of the alien infiltration effects on funding countries.

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