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Max_Caine

So, who wants more cool aliens?

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Enemies don't need to be deadly gun toting soldiers to put the player on their toes and steal all their attention.

The poisoned headcrab from Half-Life 2 can never kill you on its own, but temporarily putting you down to one health makes them scary enough that everyone drops everything to kill them first. An alien who covers the field in gas that can't kill you, but does make you a one-hitpoint wonder until a medpack comes along would do the trick. It would even make the rebreathers more useful. I don't think we really have any enemy that poisons you, come to think of it..

In Subnautica, the mezmer can technically never hurt a player who knows what they're doing, but they'll get everyone the first time with a pretty light show and some hallucinations. An alien that makes ghosts of itself where the ghosts never do real damage, go down in one shot, but essentially act as a demoralizing force that's surrounded your soldiers would be cool. At the start, you'd be wasting your shots, but accuracy boosting weapon's attachments could see right through the ghosts telling you which of that enemy you actually have to worry about seems like it'd be fun. They could even count as light sources in dark missions, giving some interesting interplay between keeping them around or not.

Many horror games make use of the zombie who's actually two zombies. This one fits in well with the proposed damage location system, though might be harder to code. First two limbs to get shot off become their own enemy, though this might be a bit too close to the reapers/crysalids. Either that, or I'm just rehashing the best new enemy from XCOM2, the andromedon. Still, this is something that explosive kills would be great for. You'd always want to carry around a grenade because an explosive death means you don't have to deal with the enemy that just keeps being more enemies.

The faceless were a good idea with a not very good execution. I've never really felt like civilians have had a proper place in these games since the original X-Com, where the lighting system and alien turns meant that seeing a shadow run past a window for two frames made you question if you just saw a human or needed to point your rocket launcher at a house. Even just having turned human agents with their own guns would be interesting, though perhaps this would make more sense in a mind control mission. "Australian soldier is under alien control!" A mindshield style armor accessory could double as a double-agent finder here.

The tiny drone from Xenonauts 1 was super fun for me. They did chip damage, but sprayed out so many shots that it was a hilarious worry the first time around and fodder to be destroyed so you wouldn't get your poorly grouped up soldiers all suppressed. I wouldn't be surprised if there was already a plan to bring them back, but suppression is just a neat mechanic and there isn't really any other enemy designed to make use of it. People with plated vests don't get suppressed, but plain clothed rookies so want to get down.

Specters were great enemies in XCOM2. They let you have all the fun fighting one of your own without having to worry about losing someone on your team. A enemy that waits for you to get close and uses its turn to copy someone on your team and run away for a future ambush. You have the opportunity to kill them first and, if not, you get the fun of seeing how good your armor and weapons really are.

Ultimately, my favorite enemies in XCOM games have always been ones that pull out surprises. Everyone remembers their first cyberdisc explosion, that sectopod just keeps pulling abilities out of its hat, that zombie just turned into another crysalid. When there's something to learn about each alien, something that helps you beat them, it's just that much cooler.

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Some ideas for aliens that are, behaviour wise, a bit more interesting than "soldier with a gun" (of which you still need to have several types).

  • Shield Drone. Something like the light alien drones, but stays close to friendlies, and can project a shield around a friendly alien in range. So you either fight the tougher, shielded alien, or try to first take out the agile drone.
  • Heatlamp alien. No gun, but has a damage aura some 3 tiles around it, so it just damages all enemies within range, doing more damage if it's closer. Somewhat low damage overall, so it's not an instakill, but you want to get rid of these before they get too close. Dangerous due to their area of effect ability, their weakness can be low TUs or HP.
  • Fire-using alien. Fire was very underused in X1. You can have an alien that, by itself or with a gun, causes fires, which would be fun due to the unpredictable spread of fires in some biomes, and generally being a completely different type of hazard.
  • The second-form alien. Upon being killed, it produces a weaker form of itself, or splits into two smaller aliens, or something else along those lines, the idea being that it creates a new, smaller threat.
  • Mobile shield robot. The alien version of your shield soldiers essentially. Doesn't buff anyone else, instead it's just a big shield that aims to stay between your soldiers and other aliens (probably said to be remote-controlled in-game). Unarmed, but with very high HP, requiring you to shoot around it or to take it down with concentrated mass fire.
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@Solver those are great ideas. I notice that they mostly have an ulterior characteristic rather than being pure damage dealers. A lot of support-type actions. Although you've not got a healer in there, which seems the obvious choice, to me at least. Along that line of thought, a support-class alien could just be one that uses psi to buff friendlies or lower the stats of enemies. Anything from TUs to morale. If psi is the mechanism, then the alien doesn't need to be toting at gun. The Psions from Enter the Breach were just floating octopuses. 

@ApolloZani yeah those poisoned headcrabs were the worst. And by worst I mean best. Having an annoying enemy is good design - if it can get you really riled up but still want to play so you can smash them to bits.

@Xeroxth fair point that the aliens aren't exactly making a covert war what with that giant death ray in the sky. I guess I'm trying to scope out what the feel of the game is going to be. XCOM:EU had the Etherials and their assembly of different races. XCOM2 had something like the storm trooper vibe. But I don't think X2 is going for either the zoo or the SWAT team. Like I said, I don't know what the vibe is, apart from cold war alternative universe.

I use the term 'realistic' aliens to mean the type of aliens you would expect to see. Douglas Adam's Hooloovoo is probably the best alien I've ever heard of, a super intelligent shade of the colour blue. Great imaginative sci-fi and really, truly alien. But it'd make a crap enemy in a computer game. You need something that looks like it belongs in ground combat. Normally I'd be against a conservative recommendation, but in this case I think the aliens should be, for the most part, on the less extreme side of things. For the bread and butter aliens, just give them a few backwards facing joints, maybe a spine that doesn't form a straight column or a tail or something. But if you start filling the game with quadrupeds ... at some point it risks the feeling that you're fighting an invasion of horses or something. And for something like a crystalline alien, just think what it would look like fighting against a rock. I think it is important to remember the perspective of ground combat, it is a top-down view in a tile-based environment. That is how you see the aliens, so the really imaginative ideas kind of need to take a back seat to what is easy to animate in a computer game.

Having said that, I think that for the special boss aliens, the ones that aren't clone-grown Earth-ready foot soldiers, the visual appearance should be really mind blowing. These would be the true extra terrestrials, with homes vastly different. These few could be the crystals or the AI mainframes or the gas clouds.

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Posted (edited)

May I just add a flying "eye" type alien?! I know it's a cliche but they look weird. They can be enemy scouts that work with Psi aliens mainly that don't carry weapons but get 'in your face' so you are susceptible to psi attacks. I liked the weirdness of the original XCom: Enemy Unknown. What a great company Microprose were.

There are lots of good ideas in this thread actually.

Edited by ooey

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@ooey Chris actually agreed with this. He said that making a scouting unit being similar to a fallout floater could be cool. The thing is also easy to create higher ranks. Maybe the elite floater comes in the fire, shock and radiant varieties (the fire one explode, the shock immobilize and the radiant have a debuff field).

4 hours ago, Ninothree said:

But if you start filling the game with quadrupeds ... at some point it risks the feeling that you're fighting an invasion of horses or something. And for something like a crystalline alien, just think what it would look like fighting against a rock. I think it is important to remember the perspective of ground combat, it is a top-down view in a tile-based environment. That is how you see the aliens, so the really imaginative ideas kind of need to take a back seat to what is easy to animate in a computer game.

I don’t actually say that we should fill the game with just weird aliens. Just enough in the specialized kind to make players actually wonder about the scale and threat of the Praetor-led invasion force. The current lineup is already good, I just think that there’s no harm in adding 4 to 5 weirder more specialized aliens for the later part of the game to spice things up a bit. Although an invasion of horses and rocks actually sounds fun. The Animorph series did exactly that with an invasion of slugs with some using an alien centaur host body.

On the implementation side, I feel it’s not that hard to actually make a new enemy in a turn based game like now. The problem is the design, because yeah X-Division put in the Xenomorph but it’s so out of wack compared to other aliens that it just doesn’t work. For a new unit you would only need:

- stat lines

- a static model

- running/walking animation 

- attacking animation

- suppressed/prone animation

- sound bites

- death animations (yeah I really dislike the weird weightlessness of the rag doll, having custom fallout style bloody deaths is better)

It’s not like Chris and team are actually making a game like Total War where the model details is huge and making so many animations that they needed to create a skeleton for each new creatures. Simplicity is best. FTL managed to create an interesting set of aliens with a few pixel sprites. Goldhawk could just put the design in first and let the community finalize it through mods.

@TrashMan Most games that have an ensemble of aliens never do it the same way so it’s not really that prone to tropes. While games with monogamous aliens with switching weapons really gets boring as they’re limited with the way of having equipments (unlike normal soldiers in a game like Jagged Alliance or Strain Tactics). See the recent disappointing Phoenix Point for that.

@Solver not to mention these different kinds of aliens can also be mixed and match to create really unique aliens. For instance second-form alien + heat lamp alien: a radioactive crystal enemy (with trilateral symmetrical design) inside a containment suit. It attack by shooting a concentrated beam of radiation through a slit in the suit. This attack works similar to a poison headcrab attack, draining 90% the soldiers health for a single turn, giving other enemies a chance to kill for that turn. But if the suit is damaged, it will turn into a heat lamp alien that also harm its allies. Basically a glowing triped with a thick mech suit.

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Or the previously mentioned modular alien that also being a dedicated combat medic in its first form. We are still missing dedicated roles like a buffer, a healer, a demolition expert, a flamethrower and of course the melee berserker that serve to draw fire (something along the lines of the Klingon redesign I posted would be great).

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On ‎6‎/‎25‎/‎2020 at 1:14 AM, Xeroxth said:

 

@TrashMan Most games that have an ensemble of aliens never do it the same way so it’s not really that prone to tropes. While games with monogamous aliens with switching weapons really gets boring as they’re limited with the way of having equipments (unlike normal soldiers in a game like Jagged Alliance or Strain Tactics). See the recent disappointing Phoenix Point for that. 

Phoenix Point is actually pretty good, especially with the new updates, so it utterly demolishes your point.

And funny you should mention JA2, since all it's opponents were human (unless you turn on the sci-fi mod, which adds the crepitus), and at no point was I ever bored or though the game lacked anything (despite laying the game many times). Probably because the core combat mechanics were so damn good. Still the king.

 

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Posted (edited)

I´m playing Phoenix Point too. But I´m waiting for the next DLC with more possibilitys you will get for the Storyline etc. But the third DLC will bring in a Content, which is realy missing there (Airfight and UFO-Recover ;)).

But back to Topic:

There are new cool Aliens get in the Game. You remember the Tentaculat in X-Com TftD. Look at the newest Updates in Kickstarter (first Picture). And from what I could see there are some more in the Beta 13 we Betatest atm after the Anti-Test-Bugs get fixed in 2 Hotfixes.

 

 

Edited by Alienkiller

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2 hours ago, TrashMan said:

And funny you should mention JA2, since all it's opponents were human (unless you turn on the sci-fi mod, which adds the crepitus), and at no point was I ever bored or though the game lacked anything (despite laying the game many times). Probably because the core combat mechanics were so damn good. Still the king.

I disagree on Phoenix Point still being anywhere near good. It’s a damn decent game, but it’s nowhere near what promised during the kickstarter campaign. It’s still too janky and only gets exiting with the new DLC (which to me just adding features that should have been in the game from the start). Sorry to sound a little bit argumentative in my tone. I just wanted to share my opinion on enemy design.

I love JA2 and the expansion to death. Still to this date I don’t think any TBS game that came close to it in depth. But Xenonauts is not striving to be a successor to that ;).

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Did you try the new update that just released? And another one with even more great changes is also coming. The Devs listen to the community and have tracker of all features. It's getting better and better.

 

As to JA2. I consider it as a gold standard. You can say Xenonauts isn't trying to be that, but if you're making a squad-based tactical game, there is no better benchmark. No game does the "team of humans with guns" better.

So any time I see a so called squad-based tactical game that misses 90% of the tactical options, my heart sinks. Climbing on roofs, different movement speeds (sprint, run, walk, sneak), stances (standing, kneeling, prone),  tons of equipment, fatigue/breath, proper bleeding and wounds, etc..

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13 hours ago, TrashMan said:

Did you try the new update that just released? And another one with even more great changes is also coming. The Devs listen to the community and have tracker of all features. It's getting better and better.

Yeah, but because most of the new updates added crucial quality of life changes that should have been in the game from the start. The number of enemies however is still largely lacking.

Ah I still remember starting my first JA game knowing nothing and making a sniper build that failed miserably, then basically breezes through the first half of the second playthrough using a gang of just dudes with revolvers. Good times.

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Posted (edited)

I loved JA 1 and his Add-Ons.

JA 2 and the Add-Ons were good, but the Reworked JA 2 with the DLC´s is better (in my Sight).

Yes, the Beta get in much new Alien-Objects, Aliens and such. But the Beta is still cruical and a more stable Beta is needed to get a full insight for the implemened Aliens and more new Enemys (Humans, Agents etc.).

 

Edited by Alienkiller

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I suppose you could have random bonuses appear each turn for both sides such as "one particular unit gets a surge of adrenaline" which adds 20% to their action points etc. This sort of thing should be infrequent though. I'm all for randomness on certain occasions - so much so that I'm building a lot of it into my game. Randomness = surprise, and I have to say that I love the fact that Chris and the team have made the tactical map generator truly random (this should add a lot to the gameplay).

Not sure about cool aliens though, more weird aliens would suit better (since we associate aliens with weirdness). What are you thinking about, aliens wearing shades?! :cool:

Perhaps an alien with a built in weapon would offer something a little different (then you couldn't harvest that weapon for use). There isn't really an alien rece unit in x1, which is why I would go for a flying eye (with great speed but no weaponry). Like I said somewhere else, these would be the eyes of those psi aliens hidden in alien bridges, as I think it's unfair that they can mind control your troops even though they have no line of sight through a comrade.

Edited by ooey

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51 minutes ago, ooey said:

which is why I would go for a flying eye (with great speed but no weaponry)

I really feel like the eye thing has been done over and over in other games (hell, even in D&D : it's an old trope), and the game already have flying units. That being said, the idea of a psi-mind-bridge is realy, really nice. In fact, expending on the behavior between aliens and how they work together could be the way to go to make them feel more 'alien' (whatever that means) or distinct at least, without having to make more art.

Maybe it's because I do not play the latest builds (or haven't played enough : what I am saying is that I could be mistaken) but the aliens do not feel that different. The andron are cold and stupid "I have to kill machines", without care for cover or friendly fire. Because of that, they are the more distinct I think, not because they affect you in a new way, but because they affect the other aliens.

So yeah, sure, compared to the caesans, the sebillians seem to be way more aggressive to the point that they seem crazy at times. The little caesans are sneaky flanking guys. There is the glowing in the dark dudes and the terryfing I eat your face in one go spider. They all have their quirks, but I'm not sure what they do impact what the others are doing that much. It's more a "nice detail thing" as far as tactics are concerned than a game changer.

On that subject, killing the officers could have an effect beside ending mind war. As an example, some soldiers would just freak out and run for a bit, or some would just panic where they are. A kind of reverse mind war, if you will. Depending on the settings of each alien, it could give some very weird results. It would be nice to have some aliens freaking out being even worse than the mind war. Imagine an alien that officers have to micromanage, or else it just starts eating everything with way more TU that is reasonable. It would be a terrifying foe and a potential hasard for the aliens, thus, an objective, a tool for you to use, just as the andron or tanks could be both bombs you can use and very dangerous threats.

Another idea would be to have the zombie making spider stop on the cadaver of fallen comrades (or Xenonauts) and eat them in order to heal. That way, they are not just brainded screeching creatures, but really predators barely domesticated that the aliens somewhat control in order to maintain order and punish in their ranks, as well as eating your face off.

Without officers, sebilians could throw caesans or the weaker sebelians in front. That kind of thing would make the aliens "society" really oppressive and brutal, it could tickle the player curiosity and reading Dr. Arrogant Smart could shed some nice light on this.

 

So yeah, having more cool aliens is nice, but making sure that the aliens have more to them would also be nice. (That being said, having alien tanks, mutating alien things, alien beastmasters of some kind, or hell, even alien eyes of floating brain-plants would be really nice, but in so far as it's not just a new asset with new stats and slightly different behaviour.)

Edited by Comte Pseudonyme
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See, I never think of a flying eye as a cliche! To me it represents reconnaissance/scouting (the mark 1 "eyeball" as pilots say). I suppose you could call the little disc in xen 1 a rece unit, but it also had a weapon.

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7 hours ago, ooey said:

See, I never think of a flying eye as a cliche! To me it represents reconnaissance/scouting (the mark 1 "eyeball" as pilots say). I suppose you could call the little disc in xen 1 a rece unit, but it also had a weapon.

Sure, clichés are effective and have purpose, you're right. :)

Edit : And I can understand that we consider things differently, what is cliché for me might not be for you. Matter of taste and consumed mediums I suppose.

Edited by Comte Pseudonyme
Precision
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@Comte Pseudonyme I like your idea of making the alien behavior more distinct. I also think there’s another way to create new aliens while still technically still the same species of aliens, that is having alien ranks being not only a separation of gear and weapons but also genetic implants:

For instance, a generic Sebilian is just another combat platform to the Praetors, and as the creatures rise in rank, they will be given different genetic manipulation to make them more and more varied based on different species of reptiles:

>lieutenants can spit poison like cobras and have more snake-like, more slender body with head flare and fangs

>captains can have shell plates that act like riot shield with a stockier body, with beaked head like a turtle 

>commanders having an extra melee attack with a jaw like a crocodile and tipped with alien alloy augmented teeth as well as all other abilities of their lower rank counterparts 

While the Caesans can be manipulated for their role as fodders, pilots and low level psy troopers:

> Caesan pilots due to the need of controlling motherships during long space transits have completely degenerated legs with their fingers sub dividing into arms. Being able to wield heavy weapons like rocket launchers on their anti-grav supports 

>Caesan Hivers have themselves fully made for being thrown into the meat grinder of war. They have their psy ability modified to have multiple bodies sharing the same mind. Which means they’re a hive mind squad that acts like the soldiers in FEAR.

>Caesan psyker have their bulbous head crackling with a power field that weaken enemies around them and suck away morale every turn. They’re protected by a layer of power armor.

Things like this will show the alien being nothing other than tools for the alien overlords and a grim glimpse of humanity’s fate if we bow down to the praetor. Even a more upgraded Reaper is possible. Where their head and brain is completely replaced by a scouting drone, giving them the ability to wield multiple weapons at the same time, something like Endless Space 2’s Cravers. When the body is too heavily damaged, the scouting drone can detach from the body and attack as the creature’s second phase.

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More aliens would be really nice, but I think we could top other games in the same genre by having more non-humanoid aliens. Something sorely lacking in these kinds of games. But if Goldhawk is lacking in time this is the next best bet.

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I wouldn't like too see godly mind-control aliens or soldiers (if this is easily modable, I will disable it).

I'd like to see 'modular' aliens (like one riding another one), and when any of them is lost it has some effect.

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