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Voxette

Is the DEFCON / invasion begins secretly idea gone for good?

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I think this is really promising, to start in a phase of the game where the alien invasion is still secret.

This plays into the whole X-Files style "black helicopter men" mythology that makes the concept of playing as the usual "bad guys" covering up the alien invasion so interesting. And without some kind of DEFCON or other potential conflict between the superpowers, I don't see the point of having the Soviet Union in the setting. It was really underused in the first one and I was hoping that would be rectified here.

I really hope some form of this makes it in!

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Actually this was the one part that I hope would change with Xenonauts 2. The dynamic of the Cold War was something woefully underused in the first game and I hope would be more emphasized.

The whole MIB aspect could lend to a multitude of ways to deal with civilians on a map like just non lethally taking them down so that they wouldn’t run around like headless chickens and get turned into zombies by the Reapers or standing in the middle of a firefight blocking your shots.

Not to mention the tech sharing possibilities. Maybe each bloc of the Cold War can offer different pros and cons for you to choose a side to tech share so that the war against the aliens will not only change the fate of humanity but the course of the Cold War as well. For instance gaining the favor of the Soviet Union by ruining a coup perpetrated by the US with some help of the aliens in exchange for a missile scientist. Or stealing cargo from a GDR convoy for the FDR to gain a some funds and a communications scientist.

This will force the player to either play a game of tight rope balancing the power of two sides to avoid nuclear Armageddon or go all out to support one faction to eventually create a united world against the aliens.

At the end there could be three different outcome.

1. You help the capitalist side win and collapse the Warsaw Pact 

2. You help the communist win and establish a world government 

3. You prolong the Cold War further into space

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The "cover up" thing really doesn't work when you have alien ships landing in populated areas, killing people and so on, all as a regular occurence.

To accomodate something like that in a sensible manner, you'd have to re-write and re-make half the game.

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6 hours ago, TrashMan said:

To accomodate something like that in a sensible manner, you'd have to re-write and re-make half the game.

Which is not that much of a problem as both Xenonauts games are not really story or lore heavy at all. The lore of the first game was pretty bareboned and only get really interesting with the prequel Icelandic incident and the lore+ mod get introduced. With the second game if based on the current beta will be the same as it is confirmed to be completely retconing the first game story which will be a shame as I love the Cold War intrigue settings (especially my posting history and obvious fanboyism of Hammer & Sickle can reveal :)).

Voxette’s idea can be easily implemented with some slight changes to the pace of the early game and ease up the difficulty curve with a lore friendly explanation. As in the game started a few months before the aliens straight up declaring war on Earth with the aliens try to set up alliances (maybe with Cold War era dictatorships like in Indonesia, Spain and South America), conducting scouting missions and building secret bases to make the war easier for them in the long run. The first phase of the game could have you foiling their beachhead approach in secret with no tech sharing available which can also includes factional missions to gain more funds and regional bonuses. The second phase is you fighting the alien menace full force with the countries of Earth (or the faction you choose) where it’s a race against time as the aliens will start to bombard the planet with orbital nukes. This will explain why the aliens won’t just crush your xenonaut troops with their strongest ships right at the get go like in a conventional asymmetrical war (the US military won’t give time until the Taliban to produce their own tanks to start their air strikes obviously).

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Yeah, the original "secret war" idea has been replaced although some of its spirit lives on. An open warfare setup worked better with the new mechanics we've been testing (the orbital bombardment by the aliens and the Relations gain from sharing tech with the funding regions) so we shifted the setting around to fit the mechanics.

That said, one of the things I do want to continue to emphasise in the setting if possible is that the alien invasion hasn't actually caused everyone in the world to band together and sing happy songs while holding hands - the various world powers still do not trust one another and don't particularly trust the Xenonauts either (a mutual feeling), they've just been forced into working together by circumstance.

The VIP Elimination missions are an example of this; you're literally assassinating (or capturing and brainwashing) a local VIP who is opposed to the region supporting the Xenonauts. They're not alien infiltrators; from the perspective of the Xenonauts they're simply people with misguided views that are endangering humanity and therefore need to be eliminated. And then probably lying to the locals and claiming that they were actually an infiltrator.

So, yeah, I want to retain the feeling of the suspicion and misdirection that was part of the secret war setting even though we're returning to a setting where the warfare is more overt.

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6 hours ago, Chris said:

An open warfare setup worked better with the new mechanics we've been testing (the orbital bombardment by the aliens and the Relations gain from sharing tech with the funding regions) so we shifted the setting around to fit the mechanics.

Yeah an open warfare phase should be the main idea of the game. That I agree wholeheartedly. But I’m still wonder how would the game explain the slow increase in force of the aliens from a lore standpoint when the opening secret war phase doesn’t exist. Why would the aliens resort to using weak troops like ceasans and serbilians when they could just wipe us out using high tier units like androns and armored drones carried by battleships and carriers from the get go? That seems awfully merciful of them to give us time to develop our tech in the middle of an all out war don’t you think? Why wouldn’t they just nuke New York, Moscow and all large cities and be done with it?

I think a more novel method of beginning the new all out war should start at the 1/3th mark, when you succeedes in repelling most of their scouting attacks and kill their first base. Then the aliens will just straight up reveal themselves by bombarding a large city as a show of force. Then the real war can begin.

Of course it can be even better if the Iron Man mode will just have the war phase putting the player in the hard place right from the get go.

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6 hours ago, Chris said:

That said, one of the things I do want to continue to emphasise in the setting if possible is that the alien invasion hasn't actually caused everyone in the world to band together and sing happy songs while holding hands - the various world powers still do not trust one another and don't particularly trust the Xenonauts either (a mutual feeling), they've just been forced into working together by circumstance.

This can complement the area bonus extremely well if done right. As in simulating the complex politics of the Cold War with two distrustful bloc fighting each other with Xenonauts in the middle having to be the mediator and the sole force of combating the alien menace. The bonus as suggested in the previous thread doesn’t really make sense in both in the gameplay  and story perspective. It doesn’t show the difference between the two competing factions that is the US and USSR. I think each zones should also be split in influence to better simulate the situation with the panic meter being replaced with the DEFCON level. Taking faction related missions like assassinations, stealing tech and breaking up secret alien meet ups not only will give you huge funds, manpower and productivity bonuses but also increases that faction’s power in certain region. While taking mediator mission like protecting VIPs, destroying their beacons and killing alien tech smugglers  can lower the overall DEFCON level. Weaken a faction enough and they will cooperate with the aliens and cut your funding (with you deciding to eliminate them or bring them back to the fold). With special missions like killing the US president or placing a nuke in Moscow.

Areas like South America, Europe, South East Asia and Africa will be hugely contested by the power blocs. These areas can give specific faction bonuses along with the normal funding. For instance if you decide to help the Soviets in Latin America you can recruit Cuban personel with huge buffs in their medic and sniper skills. But if you help the US, the local forces would be heavily bolstered by troops from the dictatorships that they support with heavy armaments to boot! While doing both can only net you some benefit in funding and air defense.OpeningMap.png

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I think the idea of helping certain factions on Earth rather than putting all resources into fighting the aliens would take away from the game experience a lot. It would create a PP like situation where you fight other humans more than you fight aliens. I'd prefer the geopolitics to be left out and have the game's funding regions be simple and straightforward like the last game.

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@Comrade I respectfully disagree. I think the integration of geopolitical situations of the Cold War would serve a multitude of purposes. 

Firstly it will break up the monotony that plague the first game halfway point especially when the player is good enough to shoot down most UFOs and a reason to make more varied mission types. But I do agree that if implemented randomly it can cause the problem of you fighting your “supposed” allies than the aliens. But this can easily be fixed by making the mechanic more rigid with certain factional missions only spawned when some conditions are met. For instance you’ll only have to do them when a region reaches a certain level of “panic”/DEFCON or making them completely optional but will give you huge boosts in income and support from that faction. That would insure those missions only taking up 10% of the total game.

Second is the aesthetic and lore purposes. I personally think that a game’s aesthetics contribute greatly to a game. It creates a clear art direction for the environmental storytelling and differentiates your game to others in the same genre. And it can make or break a game. The reason some sci-fi settings gets more love than others is also due to having a unique art direction (Star Wars, Bladerunner and 40k are the more notable examples). One of the things that caught my eyes in the first game was the 70s Cold War aesthetic and the lore behind the Icelandic incident which contrasted to the generic sci-fi of the recent X-Com reboot and Phoenix point. Due to this I hope it can expand this further than just being background noises in the sequel. This is also why I always prefer playing openXCOM mods like War of the worlds and 40k because they have clear distinct art directions. Also why would the game even have backdrop of the Cold War with all that entails when you’re not even going to fully utilize it at all to distinguish the game from its competitors?tapatalk_1555215922526.jpeg

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Thirdly, I think the point of the sequel especially expressed by @Chris is taking and enhancing what’s work in the first game to be more in-depth and interesting while fixing some major drawbacks (the inability to rotate the map, fully destructible ships for ease breaching, better research mechanics and a better geoscape). My suggestion might serve this goal well in the matter of better utilization of the setting while adding some needed flavor to the mission variety.

 

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I for one don't particually like the cold War aesthetics.

 

As for why the aliens aren't using the heaviest units from the get-go? Could be different reasons. Perhaps they are a scouting force and have limited resources themselves? Perhaps more advanced units need time to bring in from wherever they are coming from? Perhaps those advanced units ARE there from the get go, but deployed in more pressing theaters. Xenonauts certainly wouldn't be a big enough threat early on to warrant such resource expenditure, especially since the alien wouldn't really know who the Xenonauts are or the extent of their abilities.

If this is the case, the game should comminicate it trough messages, briefings, news reports, etc.. Make sure to not just mention, but also show in some way the world armies ARE fighting.

Something like:

"Commander, I'm sure you already read the reports about the crushing defeat of the 5th army corps? The alien invaders are deploying weapons and troops significantly more advanced than what we have encountered so far. Fortunately, they appear to have a limited number of them, and we can consider ourselves lucky our men haven't run into them yet. However, sooner or later it is bound to happen. I urge you to divert funding into weapon development to combat these threats. Trying to capture samples would be of great benefit, but bear in mind the risks involved."  

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@TrashMan Your and my subjective preference doesn’t really taking into account the point of Xenonauts 2 as already stated by Chris and other devs as to not make the game a true sequel but a retelling of sorts for the first game’s story with more in-depth combat & geoscape gameplay, which of course will include reusing the background on the formation of the xenonauts as an organization to combat a looming threat presented with the Icelandic incident while taking all of that out might entail much more lore retcons than just a deepening of the Cold War lore. The aesthetics of the Cold War serves this purpose fantastically as not only it creates a clear world division for the Xenonauts to deal with in their efforts to focus humanity in the alien war but it also differentiates the game from being just a successor to the original XCOM/a rip-off of the reboot (with all the tacticool aesthetics of modern times, one that I admittedly hate so I can be a little bit biased on that :)). A good example would be the Silent Storm game and their addition of super science of Panzerkleins making it distinct from other military tactics games. Also my opinion on the underutilization of the Cold War atmosphere in the first game is not unfounded as most mods that adds Soviet weapons and city maps were really popular to this day.

I may suggest @Chris making another poll like the one he did on soldier equipment to test out the waters on which to ditch the Cold War atmosphere or not? Seeing how goldhawk has been very consistent in listening to our suggestions so far.

2 hours ago, TrashMan said:

Could be different reasons. Perhaps they are a scouting force and have limited resources themselves? Perhaps more advanced units need time to bring in from wherever they are coming from? Perhaps those advanced units ARE there from the get go, but deployed in more pressing theaters. Xenonauts certainly wouldn't be a big enough threat early on to warrant such resource expenditure, especially since the alien wouldn't really know who the Xenonauts are or the extent of their abilities.

The scouting idea only makes sense in a secret war perspective and would sounds extremely contrived in an all out war. The DPRK didn’t scout it out when they declared war on the South and steamrolled into Seoul. The Third Reich didn’t scout it out with their weakest force when they blitzkrieged across Europe (they took down Belgium with their most elite of paratroopers in only 2 days!). In any case, most actual war scenarios will include precise strikes using troops that are way more powerful than their frontline military. And unless we are having the aliens be hit with stupid-pills right from the get go, they would wipe xenonauts or our sources of funds out of the map first. And if it takes time for their strongest units to be shipped in, why would they choose to attack with their vanguard force rather than just nuke us from orbit until the main force arrives?

On the case that the powerful units is fighting on bigger fronts, how could the world power care enough to fund a tiny organization that have the same level of tech and preparedness as they are rather than just funding the war directly? Would the US give away one of the best to a newly founded group when the aliens already set up a beach head in Chicago? And unless the Xenonauts just get a ridiculous amount of plot amor and story contrivances in equal to the Rebel alliance in Star Wars, I don’t see how that would even work and in that case will make the campaign extremely uncompelling as it doesn’t really make the organization worthwhile at all compare to the country state funded army, industry and r&d department (we take soldiers, scientists and engineers from the same source as our beneficiaries, what makes us  any different?). The difference established in the first game being that we were formed to fight aliens even in the secret war phase therefore we’re more prepared is perfect good lore reason that I think shouldn’t be scrapped.

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8 hours ago, TrashMan said:

I for one don't particually like the cold War aesthetics.

 

As for why the aliens aren't using the heaviest units from the get-go? Could be different reasons. Perhaps they are a scouting force and have limited resources themselves? Perhaps more advanced units need time to bring in from wherever they are coming from? Perhaps those advanced units ARE there from the get go, but deployed in more pressing theaters. Xenonauts certainly wouldn't be a big enough threat early on to warrant such resource expenditure, especially since the alien wouldn't really know who the Xenonauts are or the extent of their abilities.

If this is the case, the game should comminicate it trough messages, briefings, news reports, etc.. Make sure to not just mention, but also show in some way the world armies ARE fighting.

Something like:

"Commander, I'm sure you already read the reports about the crushing defeat of the 5th army corps? The alien invaders are deploying weapons and troops significantly more advanced than what we have encountered so far. Fortunately, they appear to have a limited number of them, and we can consider ourselves lucky our men haven't run into them yet. However, sooner or later it is bound to happen. I urge you to divert funding into weapon development to combat these threats. Trying to capture samples would be of great benefit, but bear in mind the risks involved."  

Actually, in the first game, they made it very clear through in-game lore that the reason why the aliens didn't bring out their best was because they needed to slowly convert their starships to be capable of atmospheric flight. Also remember scouting becomes a whole lot more important when you are landing on a world totally alien to you with no context whatsoever about their military and economic capabilities.

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On ‎3‎/‎30‎/‎2020 at 2:37 PM, Xeroxth said:

 The scouting idea only makes sense in a secret war perspective and would sounds extremely contrived in an all out war. The DPRK didn’t scout it out when they declared war on the South and steamrolled into Seoul. The Third Reich didn’t scout it out with their weakest force when they blitzkrieged across Europe (they took down Belgium with their most elite of paratroopers in only 2 days!). In any case, most actual war scenarios will include precise strikes using troops that are way more powerful than their frontline military. And unless we are having the aliens be hit with stupid-pills right from the get go, they would wipe xenonauts or our sources of funds out of the map first. And if it takes time for their strongest units to be shipped in, why would they choose to attack with their vanguard force rather than just nuke us from orbit until the main force arrives?

On the case that the powerful units is fighting on bigger fronts, how could the world power care enough to fund a tiny organization that have the same level of tech and preparedness as they are rather than just funding the war directly? Would the US give away one of the best to a newly founded group when the aliens already set up a beach head in Chicago? And unless the Xenonauts just get a ridiculous amount of plot amor and story contrivances in equal to the Rebel alliance in Star Wars, I don’t see how that would even work and in that case will make the campaign extremely uncompelling as it doesn’t really make the organization worthwhile at all compare to the country state funded army, industry and r&d department (we take soldiers, scientists and engineers from the same source as our beneficiaries, what makes us  any different?). The difference established in the first game being that we were formed to fight aliens even in the secret war phase therefore we’re more prepared is perfect good lore reason that I think shouldn’t be scrapped.

You are staring on the assumption that the aliens came fully prepared and informed with a full army.

The aliens might be a fraction of an invasion fleet that got splintered/lost/whatever. They may have stumbled onto Earth without prior plan to invade and are underestimating human resistance.

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16 hours ago, TrashMan said:

You are staring on the assumption that the aliens came fully prepared and informed with a full army.

 The aliens might be a fraction of an invasion fleet that got splintered/lost/whatever. They may have stumbled onto Earth without prior plan to invade and are underestimating human resistance.

No my assumption would be that the aliens act logically and isn’t incoherently stupid. Even if they didn’t come with a full army, why would they declare war rather than just secretly scouting us like in the first game? Wouldn’t it be better to wait it out and build up your forces in orbit until you’re fully prepared to to declare war and only start to do terror attacks once you’ve been found out?

All of the scenarios you listed are dependent on the alien being lacking in any tactical thinking whatsoever making the in game lore incredibly contrived to say the least. If you want to gather info on the human resistance (which I assume is still according to X-1 lore of being in the Cold War), you just park your fleet in orbit and have drones taking high-resolution pictures of earth while picking up our radio signals at the same time. The next stage would be secretly influencing the political tension with provocative attacks on small towns and villages while bribing some leaders to oppose the Xenonauts. Finally when your cover is blown you just go all out war.

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If you study history, then you'd pretty much call half the nations stupid or lacking tactical thinking. There's thousand of examples of misscalculations, errors, terrilbe oversights, arrogance or just plain bad luck. The logical conclusion is thus, that humans are stupid.

There's also circumstance to consider. The aliens might be forced to attack before they are ready.

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