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Chris

Xenonauts 2: Ground Combat

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For Xenonauts-2 we are retaining all the core elements of the ground combat in Xenonauts 1, but making the experience more freeform and less repetitive. The classic "Time Unit" system is not seeing any fundamental changes but more varied missions and environments and more exotic equipment should keep it feeling fresher for longer.

The topics of discussion are:

  • Mission Types & Mission Mix
  • Alien Composition
  • Breachable UFOs
  • Improved AI
  • Further Changes

Mission Types & Mission Mix:
One of the biggest complaints with the first Xenonauts was that the missions and maps repeated far too frequently - and this was entirely warranted (even though Xenonauts had over 100 maps in it). The average campaign of Xenonauts probably involved 80-90% UFO Crash Site missions, the only variation being the size of the UFO. Ironically, a player that was doing well could actually shoot down all the UFOs before they could spawn anything else ... so ALL they got was Crash Sites. It's not difficult to see why this made the game a bit repetitive!

In an ideal campaign, we'd expect a player to fight approximately 20-25 missions. This would include the final mission and roughly 4 terror missions, 3 alien base assaults, 2 base defence missions and the remaining 10-15 being crash sites (there's planned to be eight different UFO types in the game, all of which are new designs). We'll be introducing terror missions and alien base assault missions earlier in the game, and we'll be adding code that tries to pick biomes and maps you've seen less frequently where possible.

We're also adding a bit more content in the form of the new Boreal and Tropical map biomes, and a new Eliminate VIP mission type. Terror missions have been updated because they often felt like a chore in X1 due to the lack of strategic rewards for their completion, so we've added some alien bombs to the maps which award Alenium on victory. Taken together, we expect these changes will make the campaign quite a bit more varied than the first game!

Alien Composition:
I prefer the classic X-Com model of having UFOs populated by a specific alien race to the XCOM model where every mission will contain a mix of aliens of different species. However in X1 we ran into some limitations - for example, if Sebillians aren't very accurate and prefer short-range weapons it becomes pretty easy to fight an entire map full of them. This is part of the reason the aliens in X1 felt somewhat generic; they all had to be reasonably capable of fighting at all ranges.

In X2 we're going to maintain the distinction between the species but expand the roster of each race family a bit so more interesting units are possible. For instance, the Sebillians come in a standard variant who are fairly capable soldiers but they also have Brutes, which are bigger and tougher and carry a heavy machinegun, but are easy to hit and relatively inaccurate. They'll also be supported by small numbers of Mantids, which are small insectoid aliens that are weak but have good aim, and are backed up by Reapers in terror sites. Hopefully this will make each individual mission a bit more varied compared to the equivalent in X1!

At the moment the three race groupings are the Psyons, the Sebillians and the Wraiths / Androns, and if goes well in Early Access we'll likely be adding a fourth that appears a bit later in the game. 

Breachable UFOs:
The UFOs in Xenonauts 2 are now being designed by the same artist who designed the UFOs in the first Xenonauts. Earlier in development we experimented with fully-destructible grey box UFOs, but even though they offered gameplay advantages over the X1 UFOs they just didn't get people excited about seeing what was coming next. The air combat in particular looked pretty bad when every UFO design was a fairly simple geometric shape.

We are however also going to attempt to fix the only major problem with the UFOs in the first Xenonauts - their indestructible hulls did not allow you to create additional breach points so every assault involved going in through the front door. An impressive mod for the first Xenonauts called Fire in the Hole (packed with Community Edition) laid the groundwork for our planned UFO destruction system; there's specific points in the hull of each UFO that can be destroyed and if you inflict enough damage on them (the C4 charge is good for this) then this removes a section of the hull and gives you an alternate entry point.

Although this system hasn't been tested yet, we're hoping that we can visualise these weak points by showing areas in the hull where the outer hull plating has been broken. In an ideal world different breach points would be available in different missions so the player has to vary their tactics a bit. This is all a bit complex because of the wall hiding system we use for our UFOs (where the hull vanishes as soon as you can see inside the UFO) but if all goes to plan our new UFOs will offer the best of both worlds.

Improved AI:
The next area of planned improvement to the original Xenonauts is the enemy AI. I've always thought the AI in the original X-Com from 1994 felt pretty solid despite the age of the game; the aliens moved around a lot and often did smart little things like checking outside the doors of their UFOs for enemies. The system that powered this was actually pretty simple, and we're going to be adapting it for our own use. If you're curious as to how it works, it's explained below - if not, all you need to know is that the aliens will be more mobile than before and will pick more interesting locations to end their move in!

The system works by manually placing AI waypoints into the map. Aliens will randomly choose each turn whether they want to go into overwatch mode and remain in place, saving all their TU for reaction fire, or go into movement mode and or attempt to move to a nearby waypoint within a certain range. The chance of selecting each mode is dependent on how aggressive the aliens are; e.g. a melee alien like a Reaper will almost always be choosing movement mode.

When any alien spots a Xenonaut unit, the system above is abandoned and for the remainder of the turn all TU is spent either trying to kill the hostile unit or moving to better cover. If the alien kills its target or its target escapes, the alien will resume choosing between overwatch mode and movement mode the following turn.

A good example of why this AI system is an improvement is a UFO assault. In Xenonauts 1 the AI was based around finding optimal tiles to move to based on how good the cover and sight lines were, which is why you'd usually find the aliens crouching behind cover in the middle of the UFO and refusing to move (because they were already in mathematically the "best" position). This means they would rarely check outside the UFO to see if there were any enemies there, or go for a stroll through the interior of the UFO, or really do anything particularly interesting beyond camping the door.

In the new system, the tile outside the door is just one tile on a semi-randomised patrol route. Some of those tiles might be good defensive locations watching over the door, but others might be checking outside the UFO, standing inside small rooms, working on an alien console, etc. A level designer can probably do a better job picking interesting places for aliens to stand than an algorithm can. This means breaching a UFO is likely to be a more interesting experience, and when you're inside a UFO the aliens will patrol around more and so are more likely to surprise you.

Finally, the waypoints allow us to specify the behaviour of the aliens standing on them - e.g. you can set an alien to face a specific direction, or crouch. This means the AI doesn't need "cheat" like it did in the first game, where the units would often turn to face the closest Xenonaut unit (even if they couldn't see it) when attempting to defend a UFO. Because the AI didn't know which doors were the ones the player was most likely to breach through, without this hack the aliens would all be facing random directions when you entered a UFO and wouldn't put up much resistance to your assault.

Problem is, this hack would cause problems with destructible UFOs - even if you blasted a hole in the hull to make a side entrance for your team, the aliens would still be facing towards you. The new system means we can tell the aliens which way they should be facing (i.e. towards the big door to the outside) and that gives you the opportunity to surprise them by taking advantage of destructibility. Rewarding smart play is important, and the new AI system will help us to do that.

 

Further Changes:
Some of these changes are actually quite significant changes to the way combat and damage works, but for the sake of brevity I'll just give a quick summary of each system.

  • Rotatable Camera: the biggest advantage of a 3D engine is you can now rotate the camera. You might not realise how much you want this now, but trust me - you'll miss it if you go back to X1 afterwards!
  • Alien Weapon Tiers: the aliens aren't using plasma weapons right from the start of the game. They now start using magnetic weapons and begin to deploy energy weapons in the mid-game, and eventually advance to a third tier of even more powerful weapons. This is important because weapon penetration is now relative (see below).
  • Armour HP & Penetration: Armour HP is now a separate pool of hitpoints that are drained before damage is applied to the unit underneath. However, armour resistance and penetration are relative values and if the armour resistance is higher than the weapon penetration, the incoming damage is reduced. If penetration is higher then a portion of the damage penetrates through the armour and damages both the Armour HP and the HP of the unit.
    • In practice this means that the tech progression is a bit more interesting. Power armour like the Predator Exosuit from X1 is totally impervious to low-tier alien weapons, whereas a powerful alien plasma weapon is going to punch straight through Kevlar no matter how much of it you're wearing.
  • Locational Damage: Weapons no longer do a random 50% - 150% of their base damage on hit, but instead the hit is assigned to either the torso, head, right arm, left arm, right leg or left leg. Hitting the torso does normal damage, hitting the head does 150% damage and hitting a limb does 75% damage. In the future we're likely to add locational injuries as a result of this.
  • Symmetrical Vision: the line of sight algorithm in the first Xenonauts had some awkward spots where it was possible for units to fire around corners without the target being able to fire back (this was because of the way walls worked). This won't happen in X2; vision and shooting is entirely symmetrical.
  • Body Size: as some aliens are bigger or smaller than others, we've added a simple body size modifier to each unit that affects how easy they are to hit - e.g. a particularly big and tough Sebillian might be 30% easier to hit than normal. Just a small thing that helps differentiate different alien units from each other.
  • Alien Night Abilities: the aliens were all pretty interchangeable at night in X1, which in retrospect was a wasted opportunity. It would be more interesting if some aliens are particularly strong at night and others were weaker. Perhaps the Psyons (formerly Caesans) would be a really tough prospect at night because they have perfect night vision and their psionics had more chance of success in darkness. Whereas fighting the Wraiths at night might actually give you an advantage - they've got big glowing bulbs on their head, so we could literally make them glow in the dark.

 

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I understand why you're leaving the boxy UFOs behind, but if at all possible, please keep the assets in the game files - they could be great for modding and mapping.

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Seems like a good update.

On 5/20/2020 at 5:48 PM, Chris said:

Locational Damage: Weapons no longer do a random 50% - 150% of their base damage on hit, but instead the hit is assigned to either the torso, head, right arm, left arm, right leg or left leg. Hitting the torso does normal damage, hitting the head does 150% damage and hitting a limb does 75% damage. In the future we're likely to add locational injuries as a result of this.

I dont really see why the randomised damage has to be abandonded with this system. As a suggestion you could randomise body part damage too.

torso: 75% - 125%
head: 125% - 175%
limb: 50% - 100%

 

For the AI thing it sounds super exploitable to just stand still and overwatch until all aliens ran into your fly trap.

Edited by Charon

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Here I wanna say something as an Beta-Tester too.

1. The Ground-Battles are fair and hard. Esp. in the first Monthes you have to watch for your Soldiers not to die, because your Safty Suit is only optimised for Human Weapons. The heavy Cevlar-West helps a little bit, but Cover is still your best Friend.

2. The Missions have to be more. The new testet Missions (which are atm interim solutions) are nice. They were be nicer if you can play it Manually.

3. UFO-Upcommings are good and the Crash-Site-Missions don´t need more. To less Crash-Site-Missions are also not good. A middleway have to be found. Maybe you can also give Crash-Site-Missions you can´t do atm to the States. Then you will only get 50 % of the outcome from the UFO and Aliens.

4. Haven´t played Base-Defense and attack on Alien-Bases yet, so there I coulnd´t give a statement to it.

5. The exisitng UFO´s are breachable, which are nice. But the Walls are to weak and an Vehicle can open a second entry without any damage on it. C-4 Explosives for the Soldiers are unnessecary, which is realy sad.

6. The existing Armor-System isn´t good, because the Cevlar-West / Warden-Vest dosen´t give enough protection for it´s weight. So I´m exited  to see the new Armor and HP-System in Beta 13.

7. The new Variations from the Aliens are cool. The Races have more Variants, which gives the Interrogation more possibilitys. So you need Technicans for more technical knowledge, Soldiers for better Weapons and so on.

8. The AI Improvement is much better in the Beta then Expected. Everything Chris said already I can agree to the Predecessor X1. More Improvements were good and necessary for the final Base-Version for X2.

The other further Chances get a Test in Beta 13, 14 and there we will see what needs bugfixing, reworks and so on, before they get final in Early-Access and final Base-Version.

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I guess I might be a little too late to the party to make feature suggestions at this stage, but anyway: what I found added even more tactical options to Jagged Alliance 2 (not sure if this existed in the vanilla game or was added by a fan patch, but I think it was part of the base game) and would perfectly work in Xenonauts too are those mechanics:

  • a third stance besides standing and crouched - proned (better protection and aim, extra movement points spent)
  • the possibility to move while keeping the stance (i.e. crouched and proned, which costs more movement points but preserves the benefits of the stance)
  • the possibility to move backwards/sidewards while keeping the same facing

Maybe those things could be something for later. :o

Edited by Tronski
grammar
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Ideas and constructive Critics are nice to have, which makes the Game better and more interessting.

There will come more from the Devs (esp. Missions, Maps and such) and your Ideas are very good. I thougt too, that the Hit Chance get higher with Crounched and Proned (like in Biathlon which have Proned Shooting).

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Hello everyone,

I want to make a strong, a very strong pledge for a ground combat system that is massively better and more entertaining.

The model for the best ground combat in tactical computer RPGs is still the game "Jagged Alliance 2". - Essentially it's a (old school) tile-based system much like X-Com. Only it has two very, very significant features which spell the difference between a mediocre, repetitive and boring ground combat and one that you can't get enough of, even after hundreds of battles:

1.) A really awesome feature is the introduction of sounds. Not necessarily sounds that the player hears, but sounds from enemies which the characters (soldiers) hear. For instance, a Reaper that sneaks up on a character might make a slight noise when it sneaks up from behind, for instance in a woods environment. In Jagged Alliance 2 this was handled with little "audio lines" next to the character hearing something, and the game displaying a little popup: "This and that character just heard something (coming from this and that direction)". The awesome thing about it is, that it introduces all the sneaking and stealth and dread when discovered. For instance, before first shots are fired, nobody knows where the other is. Then, when shots are fired, all enemies are alerted and stream towards the sound like angry bees. It's awesome. This leads to awesome tactics, like hiding in an ambush and then throwing a rock to make a sound and draw enemies, etc. - I think it should be MANDATORY for all ground combat developers to have played through Jagged Alliance 2 AT LEAST ONCE (recently)! - They will appreciate what I have just said.

2.) The AI actually needs to be "dumbed down". The fact is this: True, real house-to-house combat is extremely grueling. The mortality with equal weapon strength is 50 % for each team. So if you play a game where the enemy is as realistically modeled in behavior as it should be, you will lose half your men in every battle, if you're as good and experienced as the aliens should be.
What Jagged Alliance 2 did, they first programmed a good AI where the enemies would never do stupid things like walk in front of a machine gun, etc. In the end, the AI was so good, like a chess-computer. Then they found that that is much too demanding and grueling to be fun. In essence, it turns out like an extremely hard chess game, where, even if you play awesome against the computer, you lose every second guy and every second battle. That was really grueling and not fun at all.
So what makes fun? Simple: Being able to make a few mistakes and still beat the computer sometimes. So they purposefully "dumbed down" the AI again. They let the computer make stupid, and sometimes laughable, but not unrealistic mistakes. The type of real mistakes an inexperience person might do in battle as well. This make combat EXTREMELY fun. You had a great time, because suddenly, not just you, the player sometimes made stupid mistakes, but so did the computer. This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!
Then Jagged Alliance found out, that this new system of combat is so much fun, that you really don't need to save the game during combat at all. In Jagged Alliance 2 you can't save the game during combat, but only before or after. So if you really, really fuck up a battle, you have to repeat it from start. But that's not a problem, because combat, unlike Xenonauts combat was purposefully made to be fun and manageable WITHOUT having to be saved during combat. Naturally, if you're new to the game, or there is a particular important boss fight you might have to repeat one or the other fight, but in general, if you're halfway ok, you never have to repeat a battle.
To create battles which are fun and do not require saving after every turn, in other words, in which you have a good chance, if you play smart, to not loose a single guy, combat MUST BE PROGRAMMED from the get-go, from the start so that you CAN NOT SAVE DURING COMBAT. Only if you plan AND PROGRAM the game this way FROM THE START, will the developers make the AI easy enough so that it is fun and manageable WITHOUT saving during combat.
Then, in the last few fights of the game, you (slightly) tone down the stupid mistakes the enemies make. The game will then become a lot more like a grueling chess game against a super computer again, but in the end, that's ok, after all, the player had the entire game to work on his tactics.

In this sense, I very much hope Xenonauts 2 will get a combat engine like Jagged Alliance 2, in that combat IS SO MUCH FUN, that the game is STILL FUN, fun ENOUGH, even if you cannot save during combat. I really believe, if you allow saving during combat, there is no initiative at all for developers to make combat so much fun that it's still fun even if you can't save during combat.

Regards,
Bobby Gontarski

Edited by Bobby Gontarski
Typos...
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Bobby Gontasrki, I have played Jagged Alliance with the Add-On, Jagged Alliance 2 and the Refits from then.

1) That I know very very good from that Ground-Combat-System. In a System where an Species fight against his own Species (like Human agains Human) it´s easy to implement, because in that what you explain all Humans are Equal. Either they try to get in cover and try to loot the Enemy in an Trap and / or search the Attacker(s) to Stop him / her. It dosen´t matter you drive a Tank, Car or whatever, fly an Airplane / Helicopter or you fight in Ground Combats.

In an Fight against an other Species they won´t search you directly. They get in Cover to save her UFO and have some Outside-Defenders. Or they have a Mission (Terror, Infiltration or whatever) and try to End it. Like in XCOM, old X-Com or Xenonauts / Xenonauts 2. The Aliens have more Specials and they attack in Xenonauts 2 etc. your Guys when they have an advantage to kill them. Short Said: The Aliens are clever in that Games.

2a) Yep, the AI need some reballance. But that can be done first, after the other Main-Things (important) are implemented Step by Step and tested which isn´t done yet. The AI is clever enough for now and give the Beta-Testers a hard Time.

2b) What the Save in Battle belongs, it´s important. I and 90 % of the Gamers which are Standard-People hate Games where you can´t save and have to beginn completely new. Esp. in Strategy-Games, Adventures, Racing Sims etc.

That´s why Strategy Games like X-Com / XCOM / UFO Extraterestials / Civ 1 to 6 / Hearts of Iron etc. as well as other Games like Race-Sims give the Player the Oportunity to save. Short said: If you don´t have it, no wil buy it or the Gamers give after 5 Minutes the Game back with Refounding and make bad Press. Then the Game-Company and / or the Development-Studio of that Game can close the Doors forever. Point!!!

That´s the Reason why such Games like XCOM, Hearts of Iron etc. are giving the Oportunity to play with Ironman for People, which wanna have a real challange like you. And the Ironman is already implemented in Xenonauts 2.

Edited by Alienkiller

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On 2/3/2021 at 3:27 PM, Alienkiller said:

2b) What the Save in Battle belongs, it´s important. I and 90 % of the Gamers which are Standard-People hate Games where you can´t save and have to beginn completely new. Esp. in Strategy-Games, Adventures, Racing Sims etc.

That´s why Strategy Games like X-Com / XCOM / UFO Extraterestials / Civ 1 to 6 / Hearts of Iron etc. as well as other Games like Race-Sims give the Player the Oportunity to save. Short said: If you don´t have it, no wil buy it or the Gamers give after 5 Minutes the Game back with Refounding and make bad Press. Then the Game-Company and / or the Development-Studio of that Game can close the Doors forever. Point!!!

That´s the Reason why such Games like XCOM, Hearts of Iron etc. are giving the Oportunity to play with Ironman for People, which wanna have a real challange like you. And the Ironman is already implemented in Xenonauts 2.

You are falling victim of the common misconception: Because all those games, almost all games are developed with the option to save after every turn the games are thus made in such a way from the start, that you must save in order to have fun. For a game to be fun to play without saving after every turn, it *MUST* be developed from the start that way. All the games you mention were developed with the option to save after every turn. So, naturally, they are much, much, much too difficult if you cannot save after every turn. I agree fully: I whould *HATE* Xenonauts ground combat if I could not save after every turn. The point is, Jagged Alliance is not like that. That's because ground combat was specifically made that you can play it, have fun, and not lose a single guy in ground combat, EVEN if you can not save after every turn. I find it a lot better for game flow if combat is not a repetitive save, try, load again, try again, load again, save again, etc.

It's not primarily important if you can save or not during combat. It's important how combat is conceived and designed: Does it make saving after every turn NECESSARY if you want to have fun or build up your men and not lose them, or is it made from the start that you can build up your men, have great fun, AND never lose them even if you cannot and don't need to save? A ground combat system that was built from the start. and with this specific goal, that you DO NOT NEED TO to save after every turn is much, much better, much more fun, much, much better to play in high numbers of repetition. I tire quickly of the ground combat missions of Xenonauts. And that's not just the maps. I can literally play hundreds of Jagged Alliance 2 ground combats without tiring of them. Even the exact same battle with the same map and the same guys! It's so much fun. Why? Because they were designed from the start and from the get-go to be fun and "winable" without requiring saving after every single turn. That's essential for how AI is finally formed and shaped.

Once a game has been designed to be fun an perfectly playable without saving after every turn, you can still put in the option to save after every turn for total beginners (or as a one-save-one-load option to merely pause the game). Any normal player will not need and thus not use the option because it's simply not necessary if a combat system was designed right, in other words, from the start to be perfect fun, and allow building up of your guys, meaning you will not loose a single guy, even without ever having to save during combat.

Not being able to save during combat, that's my real point, FORCES the developers, not the players, to DESIGN the AI correctly!
So it's a requirement even more for the developers and the development of the game, than for the players. The players are just the beneficiaries of the extra work and extra tweaking of the AI that went into ground combat because missions had to be fun and playable WITHOUT the option of saving during combat.

It's extremely easy to add the option of a "Beginner" mode that allows saving during combat, but impossible to change the AI in normal mode to make it easy enough to play through entire battles without losing a single guy (easily) later on. Ground combat that was DESIGNED from the start to be played through WITHOUT the possibility to save after every single term is MUCH MUCH more balanced to be fun, and much more resistant to loss of fun in high number of replays than systems that are designed with the option to save after every single turn. The difference is like day and night. And it's a difference in design. These are lessons learned in Jagged Alliance 2 and they are very important and valuable lessons learned.  In my mind, ground combat should be designed from the get-go to work very well and be perfect fun WITHOUT having to save during combat. If developers can saving during combat, they will never make combat as much fun as it is if they cannot.

The point is: If combat is designed that way, it is a lot more fun. And if done right, you loose guys so rarely (like only in 5-10 % of hard fights on normal difficulty), that there really is no need to save during combats at all. (You can always add a one-save-one-load only option to merely pause the game, but which does not allow for back-pedaling a false move). And in those 5-10% of the cases where you made a serious mistake or choose to hard a difficulty level and lose a guy in battle, it's fun to play the battle again from the start, because battles are so much more fun and so unpredictable and turn out and develop so differently every time you play them.

In Jagged Alliance 2 I liked combat so much that I never minded having to play one and the same combat again because I lost a guy. And because it was designed that you don't have to save after every turn from the start, this rarely happened. That's the point.

What I'm saying is; With a few tweaks to AI and abandoning the option to save (in normal play and during development), you can make the developers squeeze a lot, lot, lot more fun out of ground combat by the way it must be designed than. Which is totally different AI-wise than if you can save every turn. Don't you understand that? The added fun really dials in when you have a lot of or repetitive ground combat. Then the added fun you add by this type of AI really makes a big difference. If ground combat is a lot more fun, it's a lot more bearable if you have to play a lot of ground combat missions, perhaps even repeat a few rare once because you lost a guy (which is rare). If it's so hard that you must save after every turn, ground combat generally becomes grueling. Especially if you have to fight a lot of ground combats. As you need to fight just as many ground combats in these X-Com style games as in Jagged Alliance 2, I think X-Com style games like Xenonauts would profit A LOT LOT from the invaluable lessons learned by the people who developed Jagged Alliance 2.
Jagged Alliance 2 was game of the year and received extremely high praise for decades. This is an essential part of the reason. Their outstanding ground combat that was designed to be fun, even if you literally had to fight about 100 (or more) ground combats through the game.

And oh: A lot of different weapons (conventional weapons) were quit fun in JA2 as well because they really had big differences that made a substantial impact on damage, range, firing-speed, reload-speed, accuracy, reliability, option for silencer, night-vision, etc.. :-)
I also disagree about aliens being fundamentally different than fighting men. If anything, it's even more entertaining. If you've seen "Alien" the movie, aliens might very well pursue and hunt men! :-)

Edited by Bobby Gontarski
typos...

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Bobby Gotarski, if I was a little harsh in Point 2 it have a reason.

If a Gamer save every turn, let him / her. That´s his / her decition. Therefore the Game-Designers give the Veterans, Experts or real Pros the Hardcore-Oportiunity, which you have only 1 Save.

What I mean is, that if you as the Gamer can´t save when you want about RL-Things (like going to Work, Meeting Friends, something with the Family etc.) and have to beginn from completely new (like a Mission / Race) then nobody of them will buy the Game. And that´s 90 % of the Public. That´s the Intention for Save when you want and not to angry the 90 % Gamers, which are saying a Dev-Studio live or die.

JA and JA 2 were good for their Time in the 90´s and the AI were great. That´s uncontested. That´s why I have bought as well as Play the Refit from JA 2 and his Add-On´s (now called DLC´s). That was was missing in JA 2 is now implemented and some Parts have little Changes / Simplifications. But what is not Changed is the AI and such cool things from the Original. The Feeling is still the same as in the Orignals in the 90´s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 5/20/2020 at 6:48 PM, Chris said:

Armour HP & Penetration:

There is an idea to improve this system. Now soldier armor gives extra hit points (this is good for shields, but not for armor). For example, if an alien shot a soldier in the back and made a hole in the armor there, it should not affect the armor in front. In addition, the probability of getting into the same hole is very small, which is why such an implementation is not like the real thing. That's why in most strategies, armor doesn't give extra hit points but reduces damage by a certain amount. For example: if weapon damage = 50, armor protection = 30, then when piercing armor a soldier receives 20 damage from each shot. This system is more like the real one. 

Such a system should be implemented for soldiers, vehicles and aircraft.
You can add shield modules that will give extra hit points, but the armor should provide permanent protection, not extra hit points.

Edited by MrAlex

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19 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

Bobby Gotarski, if I was a little harsh in Point 2 it have a reason.

If a Gamer save every turn, let him / her. That´s his / her decition. Therefore the Game-Designers give the Veterans, Experts or real Pros the Hardcore-Oportiunity, which you have only 1 Save.

What I mean is, that if you as the Gamer can´t save when you want about RL-Things (like going to Work, Meeting Friends, something with the Family etc.) and have to beginn from completely new (like a Mission / Race) then nobody of them will buy the Game. And that´s 90 % of the Public. That´s the Intention for Save when you want and not to angry the 90 % Gamers, which are saying a Dev-Studio live or die.

JA and JA 2 were good for their Time in the 90´s and the AI were great. That´s uncontested. That´s why I have bought as well as Play the Refit from JA 2 and his Add-On´s (now called DLC´s). That was was missing in JA 2 is now implemented and some Parts have little Changes / Simplifications. But what is not Changed is the AI and such cool things from the Original. The Feeling is still the same as in the Orignals in the 90´s.

It is not the gamer's decision if a game is made so that you cannot play it without having to save after every turn.
The way games which need be saved after every turn, which is all these games mentioned, is like "Live, Die, Repeat". It's quite stupid and not realistic for turn based combat the way it was meant with pen and paper games (the originals).

All you freaks of "Live, Die, Repeat" save-after-every-turn-and-reload: Tell me: How often do you save your game during manual Air Combat?
So what makes you think it's necessary for ground combat?

Another misconception is difficulty: Proponents of "Live, Die, Repeat" style game play keep saying: Allow "Iron Man" mode for pros, advanced players and veterans.
That's BS. 1.) If a game is designed from the start to not be played with saving after every turn (meaning free saving during combat), the game is so much easier, that even beginners can play it without problem or lack of fun without needing to save during combat. In fact, that's exactly the reason why turn based games should be developed WITHOUT the option of saving during combat. To make sure combat can be played, even for beginners, without "Live, Die, Repeat" style cheating. 2.) "Iron Man" mode first is unplayable if a game is developed with the option of saving during combat. Because then, the opponents are so smart and powerful, that you simply cannot play the game without having to save after every turn. That's why all the people here are complaining about needing to save: Because they never really played a game which was designed to be played without saving. Again: Games designed with the option to save during combat CAN NOT be played without it anymore because they are too difficult. Second, This is the case with Xenonauts: Although it has an "Iron Man" mode, it is completely useless and unplayable, because the game was designed to be saved after every turn in combat. If you can't do that, the game is too hard. Impossibly hard. That's why the save option must not be available. To make sure combat is developed right. Lastly, the "Iron Man" mode in Xeonnauts does not allow *any* saving other than to pause the game anywhere. That's a huge difference to not being able to save during heated ground combat.

You mention people wanting to take breaks, like going to work, meeting friends, etc. Again: How often did you go to work and meet friend during a manual Air Combat? So why screw up ground combat if you wouldn't screw up air combat? If you just want the option to pause the game because ground combat takes longer, that's not the same thing. You can always introduce a "pause" option for that: One save slot, and only one for each combat. Games like FTL (Faster Than Light) show how that's done. It's not magic, it real easy.

And no, I don't think Jagged Alliance 2 was great for its time. It still is far better and superior to most or all other turn-based tactical games, including the X-Com series.  At lease in regards to ground combat, personalization of characters (cool lines, etc.) and variety of weapons. The only thing "dated" are the graphics of course. And that the combat engine is 2D and tile-based and not a full 3D engine. Other than that, no, the game is not "dated". It still is far better than any other turn-based tactical game today. At least in regards to ground combat. That's why I maintain that today's games learn from it.

If you like to play "Live, Die, Repeat" style so much in ground combat and want to save after every turn, why not just play ALL those games that you mention that *NEED* it? Why demand that EVERY game must be like that, and that learning from such games as Jagged Alliance 2 is ruled out?

Personally, I could live with a compromise where Xenonauts 2 was developed from the start without the option to save during combat. Then the option to save is added when the Ground Combat AI is finished, and an Iron Man mode is added, which simply disallows saving during combat. BUT: And this is the point: This ONLY works if the game was developed WITHOUT the option to save during combat. If the developers save the game during combat while play-testing, they will simply NOT NOTICE that the game is unplayable and way too harsh without the option to save during combat.

Regards all,
Bobby

Edited by Bobby Gontarski
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12 minutes ago, Bobby Gontarski said:

All you freaks of "Live, Die, Repeat" save-after-every-turn-and-reload: Tell me: How often do you save your game during manual Air Combat?
So what makes you think it's necessary for ground combat?

This is a bad comparison. The air battle takes place for 1-2 minutes maximum. While ground combat can last for half an hour (given the ability to save/loads). Without them, it will take even longer, especially for those who do not want to lose soldiers in battle. And someone will not be able to hang it at all without savings. Therefore, the decision of the developers is quite correct. The player decides whether to save the game or not.

As for auto saves, this thing is probably more for testing. Because the game can hang or crash and the player will lose a lot of time to return to this point.

Edited by MrAlex

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6 minutes ago, MrAlex said:

This is a bad comparison. The air battle takes place for 1-2 minutes maximum. While ground combat can last for half an hour (given the ability to save/loads). Without them, it will take even longer, especially for those who do not want to lose soldiers in battle. And someone will not be able to hang it at all without savings. Therefore, the decision of the developers is quite correct. The player decides whether to keep the game or not.

As for auto saves, this thing is probably more for testing. Because the game can hang or crash and the player will lose a lot of time to return to this point.

Again: If the only reason that you demand to be able to save during ground combat is because ground combat takes longer, a simple "Pause" function that does not allow back-pedalling and correcting mistakes is easy to implement. Just like in Faster Than Light.

If you demand to save during combat because ground combat is harder, that's an invalid point as well: The whole purpose of removing the option to save after every turn is to make ground combat so easy that you don't need it anymore. Just like in Air Combat.

Edited by Bobby Gontarski
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What did I say before. If you would read, I said nobody have time for a 5 Hour Combat in our Time and beginn from complete new. So a Save is everytime is a must have. No More, No Less. And that´s end the Discussion about that. Point!

 

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On 2/5/2021 at 8:22 PM, Alienkiller said:

What did I say before. If you would read, I said nobody have time for a 5 Hour Combat in our Time and beginn from complete new. So a Save is everytime is a must have. No More, No Less. And that´s end the Discussion about that. Point!

 

I don't know what your personal problem is. It's not what you said, I understood that every time. It's what I said which you are incapable or too limited to understand. It's you who is obviously incapable of reading and understanding what has been written numerous times now, not me.

I understand full well that a 5 hour combat needs to be paused. That's why I have been telling you repeatedly and in different words (which you obviously lack the ability to read or comprehend) since the beginning, that an ability to pause the game, such as implemented in the game "Faster than Light" takes care of this perfectly without having to give the player the ability to change his or her decisions with a "Live, Die and Repeat" god-like power. And if you mean not just the ability to pause, but you mean that combat must be restarted, not because a friend calls or a player needs to go do something else, but because something bad happened (such as a character got killed), again, I am telling you, the whole point of disallowing multiple saves during combat is to force the programmers to program the AI that this happens only very rarely. Seriously: Most combats last only 1 or 2 hours, maybe 3, only very rarely 5. And most combats do *NOT* require restart from the beginning, because *NOBODY* dies. At least not when programmed without the ability to save games. And if you have to replay a combat from scratch, one single time, such as the final boss fight at the end of the game, that really isn't a problem, because combat is so much more fun and entertaining when programmed right. Like in Jagged Alliance 2 as an example.

Finally, if you do not want to invest time in playing a good computer game where every battle is memorable and unique, even if that requires that you might have to replay one or the other (boss) battle (if you don't want to live with loosing a guy), you should probably play cheap and repetitive computer games instead. Besides, I already said I don't mind if the ability to save during battles is added *after* the game AI and ground combat is finished and it is actually very well playable without it. Only I would prefer to have the default to be no saves during combat in the difficulty selection screen, with maybe a checkbox below labeled "Allow saving during combat for beginners" or something like that.

No matter, if you're too limited to understand what I wrote in plain English, that's your personal problem I fear. Others here will hopefully be able to read what's written and understand it.

There is however, something else that is also extremely important for ground combat and for the replayability of it:

 

The Most Destructive Thing For Fun in Tactical Ground Combat: Computer Cheating
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Most games with tactical turn-based ground combat, and this includes Xenonauts and the new 3D X-COM series games make an extremely grave mistake in the artificial intelligence programming of ground combat: They cheat.

The programmers figure the people who play the game are stupid and only know what they see. But the fact is, how enemies react and what they do in the game, and thus, *how* they are actually programmed, this spells all the difference between a true good wine, and cheap water with red paint in it sold off as wine. This is the reason why Jagged Alliance 2 is in many regards the only true good "wine" out there, and all other tactical turn-based games just cheap red water.

Xenonauts and the new 3D X-COM games all make this mistake. Jagged Alliance 2 did not.
When programming the artificial intelligence for the enemy units, cheap game development simply takes into account all the information the "Dungeon Master" or the game has and passes this on to the artificial intelligence, in other words, the enemy units. They know all the positions of all the players, their strength, etc. So that information is used unquestioningly for the artificial intelligence and enemies use it and react to it.

This is an extremely grave and serious mistake that, while it works at eye-level and doesn't become noticeable for a long time (such as when just playing a demo), it really has a very bad and *extremely* destructive effect on long-time game fun and replayability of ground combat.

The fact is, just like in reality, every enemy character or monster, just like every player character would and thus should only have access to the information it would have in that situation. That means, for instance, if an enemy does not have direct eye-contact with a player character (or hears him or get warned about him by other enemies), he should not know where the player character is. Only after eye contact has been made, or sounds heard such as after first gun shots, etc., an enemy character should have exact or rudimentary knowledge of the position of a player character.
But this is tedious to program. So to save time and money, what is done instead is, the computer AI is simply fed the full information, the positions of all player characters, regardless if individual enemy characters actually see, hear or would realistically know about it. Then the computer can look for the player characters and hunt them, right away. Cheap programmers or game developers think this would not be noticed. After all, the enemies just hunt the player characters, which is what is expected. Right?
Wrong.

In game play and for fun, especially for repetitive fun and quality in repetitive fun, it is absolutely essential that this is *NEVER* done!! If you play ground combat a lot, you will notice if the computer characters suddenly appear behind you without being able to know that you are there. Or if a computer character withdraws, secretly and "magically", simply because the player tries to lay a trap or outnumbers him, even when he cannot see or otherwise know this. And this destroys everything, EVERYTHING in tactical combat games. It destroys all the clever plots which otherwise make tactical combat so extremely fun. And both the new X-COM games, as well as Xenonauts (and countless others games) are guilty of this. That's what makes their ground combat a lot less fun and a lot less epic and memorable, and thus grueling and repetitive, than a game like Jagged Alliance 2, with a quality programmed AI.

To create a powerful and cheap artificial intelligence, game developers literally cheat. And it really shows when you really play a game. They do it, because they can get away with it and the game sells anyway, because people don't notice this shit until after they bought the game. Somehow it's just not really fun. In such games, the programmers give the computer access to knowledge about player character positions, and other things which a player, or a character in a real life situation would know or have access to. It's cheating on the "Dungeon Master's" part, or by the AI. And this cheating really, REALLY ruins the fun and replayability of ground combat. It just sucks when you make advanced, cunning, and smart, elaborate tactical plans how to fool your enemies and lay an ambush or something similar, and all that intelligent plotting and game mastery and savory is foiled and wasted and destroyed, because the AI always knows what you are doing because it always sees everything and know everything, even when it should not. Because it was simply programmed cheaply, giving the computer units automatic access to all information, even if they should not have it.

This is another thing which Jagged Alliance 2 got right and practically no other tactical turn-based game got right: In Jagged Alliance 2, enemies really only know what an individual character in their position would realistically know. There is no cheating for the enemy!!!!
No information about the player's position or strength is automatically "known" by the AI. And this spells all the difference! It makes all the difference between outstanding, unique fights and battles, and a grueling, poor repetitive and ultimately boring repetition, where one fight is like all others, where you just have to beat a primitive, but unfairly privileged AI. – Such as with the "Live, Die, Repeat" routine of saving and reloading during combat, which is another famous perk of cheaply programmed AI.

Of course enemies can share player positions once they have discovered them in Jagged Alliance 2 as well. They do this by use of walkie-talkies. But his is only AFTER a player character was discovered. And ONLY among enemies that both have walkie-talkies (not stupid monsters like tigers or other animals), and are professional soldiers enough to actually use them (to effect).

In cheaply programmed games like the new 3D X-COM games and also in Xenonauts, all enemies pretty much automatically know your positions all the time, regardless whether they see you or not. At least this is the case in far too many situations, even if perhaps not absolutely always. For instance, an enemy behind a wall might come forward and attack if you withdraw your men. But if you reload the game and then close in with all your men instead, the enemy withdraws. And this even if he is behind a solid wall and has absolutely no way of seeing or knowing if you withdrew (like in the previous save) or advance. The AI simply gives the enemy this information. The computer, or rather the people who programmed the AI simply cheat.

You cannot imagine how much fun that kind of AI destroys. It destroys the most sophisticated and most intelligent plots and scheming and thus the most fun in tactical turn-based combat. To really appreciate the difference, once again, you must have not just played Jagged Alliance 2 once or twice, but actually finished it. You must have played dozens or a  hundred ground battles to really know and appreciate the difference. Although ground combat seems to look and function just like in the new 3D X-COM games and Xenonauts, it is much, much more fun and has a much higher replay-value when played often. Jagged Alliance 2 battles are just much more memorable because of this. Despite the fact that they look just like battles in other games look. At first glance it looks the same. But when you play it a lot, that’s when the true qualities of the underlying AI become noticed. It's like a good wine and colored water. In the bottle and to the ignorant it looks the same. But a true connoisseur of wine will never be fooled with colored water. The same holds true for games and especially for turn-based tactical games. The "taste" of the wine is all in the artificial intelligence and how realistically, or how cheaply it has been programmed. Unfortunately, unlike fancy graphics, that tedious programming is not "visible". That's why big producers who are just after the money don't give a shit for it and happily cheat. In effect, what they are doing is selling you a sports car with a moped engine inside.

Edited by Bobby Gontarski
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I see there are some passionate people on this thread. That's good. I like passion. I don't like it when that passion spills over to insults.

Everyone, if I see any more insults on this thread I'll delete posts and/or lock this thread.

Kthxbye.

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I would ask you to give me the opportunity to take 20-24 combat men on missions. (At the moment, you can take 10-16 soldiers. That's not enough.) I don't need anything else. To increase the number of aliens by 3-4 times, I can do it myself. I like to play big missions of 20-24 people against 20-40-60 aliens.

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9 hours ago, Komandos said:

I like to play big missions of 20-24 people against 20-40-60 aliens.

Disagree. In the middle of the game, there are enough aliens on missions. 16 soldiers is more than enough. Even 12 soldiers are enough for a comfortable game. We have a tactical game here, not a battle of two armies.

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1 hour ago, MrAlex said:

We have a tactical game here, not a battle of two armies.

A tactical game at the squad level.

But I like tactical games at the platoon level. In the UFD: 1-2, the number of platoons reached 26 soldiers. In X-COM: 3_Apocalypse, a platoon could reach up to 36 soldiers. And if the Xenonauts are really a copy of UFO:1-2, and not a stripped-down version of it, then giving me the OPPORTUNITY to have 20-24 soldiers on one mission would be quite within the canon.

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Well, though I don't agree with either side 100%, there are interesting points made.
pro-save:
1. Expectation of the modern audience. Important AFAIK. At the end of the day, game is a product, and people need to like it.
2. Ability to go around something that is not supposed to happen, when the game does something really stupid, be it a bug, a glitch, or something just unfair. Depends.
anti-save:
1. Realism. Eh, ok point, not too important, but not completely moot.
2. Game flow. Very important. If the missions are easy and short enough, and *ahem* unfair things are kept at minimum (like aliens dropping 5+ grenades on you on turn 1 in X-Com 1), you would not even need the saves.

I must admit, I just skimmed it, as barely readable English or wall of text kept me from reading it fully, but there is definitely something useful here.

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On 2/27/2021 at 12:11 PM, Komandos said:

I would ask you to give me the opportunity to take 20-24 combat men on missions.

On 2/27/2021 at 12:11 PM, Komandos said:

I like to play big missions of 20-24 people against 20-40-60 aliens.

On 2/27/2021 at 11:05 PM, Komandos said:

then giving me the OPPORTUNITY to have 20-24 soldiers on one mission

On 2/27/2021 at 5:37 AM, Komandos said:

If you increase the tactical group to 20 soldiers

On 2/26/2021 at 4:37 PM, Komandos said:

For me, the optimal platoon size is 20-24 soldiers.

13 hours ago, Komandos said:

destroy 40 aliens in one mission with the help of 20 soldiers.

We understood you after the first message, but you keep talking about the same thing many times in different topics.

 

 

 

 

 

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