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Soldier Carrying Capacity & Strength


Chris
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One of the things I've been thinking about as a result of the "Is Unlimited Ammo a Good Thing?" thread is the soldier carrying capacity. Ultimately, having to manage soldier ammo on the strategic layer is a pretty boring thing in my view.

Managing it on the ground combat should be a bit different, though. Ammo is something that the player should be worrying about, both in terms of how much is currently in their gun and how much the soldier is carrying. At the moment neither of these things are a major gameplay consideration.

The first change we'll likely make then is to reduce the ammo capacity of each weapon, so you can no longer go entire missions without reloading. This will be most pronounced in the manufactured weapons, but the ballistic weapons will also have their ammo capacity reduced somewhat too (realism stops us going too far though).

The bigger change will be to the soldier carrying capacity. At the moment, it is defined by a soldier's strength. A newly recruited rookie can't carry that much gear into battle, whereas an experienced soldier can carry pretty much anything he can cram into his inventory. Even if we ignore the fact it's a logical fail that a soldier can spend 20 minutes jogging around a combat zone and come back looking like Muscles Manmountain, but is incapable of gaining strength in any other way, it's not good for the game.

The problem is that we can't make items too heavy, otherwise new soldiers won't be able to use them. But then that means that after a few missions, the experienced soldiers have a big enough carrying capacity that they can just take whatever they want to battle. Effectively, the only limit on the amount of ammo and grenades they can carry is their inventory size.

I therefore am going to set all soldiers to have a fixed carrying capacity, probably 25-30kg each. This will not increase with time. The weights will be rebalanced to fit this. I want to create a situation where the player has to actually choose between a grenade and an extra ammo clip.

We can do this two ways. We can either set a fixed value that is identical for each soldier...or we can keep it governed by Strength, and change the soldier progression system so that Strength can't increase. The latter would give you some variety between soldiers, but a soldier who isn't that strong will never become strong. I'm quite liking the second idea.

Also, Strength doesn't really do much in the game at the moment. If we change carrying capacity that way, it's possible it might just become a "hidden" stat for each soldier that isn't displayed - the problem being that if soldiers have a visible stat that can't increase, it might confuse them.

I'm probably going to include this change in an "experimental" hotfix so we can see how it works before implementing it into the main code.

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I'd prefer having a strength stat - and having it increase - but the increase can be so slow that a soldier might gain 4-8 points of strength during his entire career.

Maybe a bit more if he's on the weak side.

I would even put a hard cap on the strength points that a soldier can possibly "train". Something like...

Max.increase = ( 100 - base.strength ) / 7

A soldier with a 30 base.strength could get up to 40, with 55 base.strength up to 61.

And yes, strength should be a modifier on top of the base carrying capacity that would be expected of a trained soldier.

Maybe...

Carrying capacity = 22 + Strength / 10 kg

You could still have "strong" soldiers who have an easier time with a heavy weapon. Variety is good and the strength stat would be meaningful.

With this kind of progression, the starting values for strength should be more varied, though. Maybe 2x d50 or 3x d33. (dice =)

In many games, soldiers double and triple their strength over the course of a few weeks or months. That's is so many kinds of wrong. =)

Edited by Gazz
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Can't say much about it till I can give it a whirl, but I can say this:

If you decide to go with the second system, especially if you make strength invisible, you'll end up having soldiers being hired the same way they were in X-Com.

Large amount of soldiers are hired, then tested to see how much they can carry. If it is below a certain threshold, they will be considered useless and take the next plane back home.

X-Com had this with bravery. Below 50 bravery? Fired. All other stats were secondary for picking who to keep.

Personally I didn't enjoy that system very much.

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Going to agree with Gazz on this, it sounds workable and very logical. So you could train soldiers up, but its a long term investment.

Having what to bring be a choice sounds very good. I've had soldiers with a belt and most of their backpack full of grenades, which I rarely used.

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Why not "merge" both ideas ?

Personaly, I do not like the idea of a random hidden stat that cannot increase.

"Oh yeah, Andrea Hopkins got a serious UT and Reflexes time, I gat a new assault. W... what ? She can't carry a decent armor without penalty ? lifetime ? boring!"

Should you set a value between 25 and 30 Kg, editable via assets (I presume), and rebalance every weapon, I suggest you link it directly to strength and keeps allowing us to improve it. let us say, carry weigth = 10 + (str / 5). A rookie (str 50) would be able to bear 20Kg when an experienced soldier (str 100) would bear 30Kg. Assuming a well thought balance between gear and wiegth, we would have choices to make between more amo or more grenades, without removing strength.

Assuming you follow this way, the question of "how get strength increase" keeps going.

... Or you can just set a global value in the assets.

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There's already a system in place for preventing mass hiring / firing. The fired soldiers go back into the soldier pool.

Even with limited scope for increasing Strength, you still run into the same problems as you do at the moment - you have to balance item weights for a greater range of strength, so instead of from 50-60 Strength (possible spawn stats), you now have to do it from 50-65 or 50-70. If we're assuming that a grenade or a clip weighs a kilo, that's the equivalent of up to 5 extra grenades or clips. It's less of a problem than at the moment, but it's still there.

Also, because you don't get diminishing returns on stat growth, picking soldiers based on Strength rather than Accuracy or another stat still has the same gameplay effect irrespective of whether Strength can be improved.

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The question is: Do you want carrying capacity to be able to grow with time/training/whatever ?

1°) If no, then set a global value shared by every soldier.

2°) If yes, then we need to find a better way for strength to get increased.

1°) If you choose the first option, you will have to change the weight of later tiers weapons and armours, otherwise soldiers willl have "too much" weigth capacity in early game, and too few in late game. This means that every carabine whatever the tier will wieght the same, every heavy armors too, every light, and so on... I personaly do not like the idea because it will reinforce the feeling that a higher tier is completly better than a lower tier. Now, a higher tier is better if you can afford it ($) and if your soldier is strong enough (ie: experienced enough) to wield it.

2°) Should you choose the second option, you have to set the min wieght available (str: 50), the max spawn weight available (str: 60) and the global max weight available (str: 100). Then, put a magic formula and the wieght - strengh relation is set. This, however, do not solve the strength progression issue.

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That prevention system only really slows down hiring efforts. Instead of firing them, you simply bring them along to the mission, then execute them along with the last alien to get fresh recruits. It'll be more tedious, but you'll get all your soldiers over the threshold eventually.

I like Moxars idea. You won't have to search for the best soldiers, and there is room for improving your soldiers a little.

I'd say balance it around what rookies can carry. 5 extra grenades/mags isn't too much to be heavily imbalanced, but would still feel like a nice reward for keeping your soldier alive.

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Would a set value common across soldiers with a small bonus provided by strength work for you?

Lets say the base strength is 60 and basic carrying capacity is 30kg.

Every point in strength can give an extra 0.1 kg.

That would mean soldiers with 70 strength may be able to carry a single extra clip/grenade (following the example Chris posted) which is a nice bonus but not a huge advantage.

Even your brute with 100 strength would barely be able to squeeze 5 more into his pack, and only then if the higher tier equipment shares the same weight as the lower tier.

Personally if that system was used I would also make more powerful rockets and other explosives weigh a touch more.

Not by a huge amount but enough so that the extra strength you gain allows you to maintain the loadout rather than increase it.

As an example the original tier one rockets might weigh 1kg each and your rookie (with 60 str) can carry 4 of them on top of his essential gear.

However Alenium rockets might weigh 1.2kg so he would have to choose to take three more powerful rockets or four weaker ones or some combination).

As his strength increased he would eventually be able to manage to carry four of the bigger ones.

Edited by Gauddlike
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It still doesn't make much sense than an experienced soldier joins the Xenonauts and magically gains 10% extra strength in a few months. Accuracy and bravery and reflexes are a mental thing you can explain away with getting more familiar with fighting aliens...but not really strength. The existing military can train you for that.

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What if, and I'm just throwing this out there, you tuned almost ALL stat growth via missions (except probably Bravery) down nearly to zero, but added a "free time" choice for each soldier that defines what they do between combat ops. So stats would be a function of how long they've worked for you more than how much you've had them do in missions, which addresses your point about "it's a logical fail that a soldier can spend 20 minutes jogging around a combat zone and come back looking like Muscles Manmountain, but is incapable of gaining strength in any other way, it's not good for the game."

So you could choose between say, Range Time (accuracy), Weight Training (strength), Obstacle Course (TUs), Speed-Shooting (reflexes), and Being Savagely Beaten By Base Personnel (resiliency). Then tune the rate of stat growth to how you want it to look, perhaps a point every 24 hours. Since this would probably dramatically slow stat growth, I'd also recommend putting a +2 gain to all stats attached to promotions, representing the effects of added combat expertise.

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Chris - I think these changes are good in general. These recruits are coming into XCom in top physical condition already (probably mostly special forces personnel), so what they can carry isn't going to go up too much over time. They should probably be able to carry a heavy load from day one. My suggestion is to either put the strength increase on a very steep curve, so that it can only increase a few points in a soldiers career or just freeze it like you want. I do think you'll need to take a hard look at the weights of the heavy weapons and armors and make sure that it is possible for average soldiers to carry them with some other equipment and spare ammo.

In my opinion, all the other stats could move up with combat experience. Bravery could actually move either way, combat fatigue and mental condition in general could move it down over time. Victories, getting over "green" jitters could move it up.

Edited by StellarRat
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I think letting strength increase very slightly would be nice. Even people in "top" physical shape have room for improvement. You might relate strength to LMG use. Make it so soldiers with < 55 strength suffer a penalty to accuracy of 2% per point, whereas soldiers above 55 gain a bonus of 2% per point.

And I'd still relate strength to carrying capacity in a small way. As others have suggested, make 50 the base, and let soldiers gain .1 or .2 kilos per point of strength above that. This would reflect that Natasha the sniper at 5'2" weighing 50 kilos can carry less than Boris, who is 6'5" and weighs twice that. It doesn't really make a lot of sense for them to both be locked in at 30 kilos capacity, and it gives all the soldiers a quality of sameness that I'd prefer to avoid.

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Assuming they are top trained soldier (special forces, etc...) all of their stats are already top leveled. I mean, a SWAT's sniper IS at his top of potential accuracy. And there is no realistic reason for a soldier to, sudently, gain 30% HP because he went on 20 missions.

And don't tell me that accuracy is increased because they better know the alien's weak spots. Accuracy allows us to hit, no to increase damage. Every one of my soldier actualy did hit the garbage behind the sebilian sitting in the middle of a corridor. Seriously, who trained them ?!

If you want to be realistic, because the soldiers are already top trained, every stat should be frozen (or near)... Which is not fun. It is much funier when every stat can be increased, like in a RPG or.. mh... the original game ? :D

I personaly don't like the "free time" proposal. The idea is that the more a soldier risks his life on the battlefield (kicking alien's butt), the better he gets. If you can improve your stats by "not missioning", there is no reward in having a star team.

Edited by Moxar
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Assuming they are top trained soldier (special forces, etc...) all of their stats are already top leveled. I mean, a SWAT's sniper IS at his top of potential accuracy. And there is no realistic reason for a soldier to, sudently, gain 30% HP because he went on 20 missions.

And don't tell me that accuracy is increased because they better know the alien's weak spots. Accuracy allows us to hit, no to increase damage. Every one of my soldier actualy did hit the garbage behind the sebilian sitting in the middle of a corridor. Seriously, who trained them ?!

If you want to be realistic, because the soldiers are already top trained, every stat should be frozen (or near)... Which is not fun. It is much funier when every stat can be increased, like in a RPG or.. mh... the original game ? :D

I personaly don't like the "free time" proposal. The idea is that the more a soldier risks his life on the battlefield (kicking alien's butt), the better he gets. If you can improve your stats by "not missioning", there is no reward in having a star team.

Accuracy while someone is shooting back at you is totally different from target practice on the range. I don't think soldiers can be "trained" for combat, only prepared. So, I do think their combat accuracy can be moved up with experience. Also, soldiers will no doubt pickup on the some of the habits and tactics of the aliens which could help them anticipate what they will do, again adding to accuracy and reactions. HP is another matter, but I'm willing to overlook that one for the sake of game fun.
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I would have quite liked to see the strength of the soldier have an effect on the number of inventory locations that are available rather than just the pure weight they can carry.

Everyone would be able to carry their main weapon in their hand and a few reloads but then as strength increases you unlock more backpack slots to carry more gear.

No worries about overloading as weight would not really be necessary, that would be accounted for by the number of tiles an item takes up.

Might not work here, especially as the artwork is done, but might have been a nice basic system that would have addressed the concerns Chris had.

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Some warnings before my feedback. I have not played a build of Xenonauts since like build 3. I'm not making assumptions based on old knowledge but using my overall understanding of games in general.

The bigger change will be to the soldier carrying capacity. At the moment, it is defined by a soldier's strength. A newly recruited rookie can't carry that much gear into battle, whereas an experienced soldier can carry pretty much anything he can cram into his inventory. Even if we ignore the fact it's a logical fail that a soldier can spend 20 minutes jogging around a combat zone and come back looking like Muscles Manmountain, but is incapable of gaining strength in any other way, it's not good for the game.

So I have an idea on an alternative approach to this. Focus on the "20 minutes jogging around a combat zone" part rather then what they are carrying.

I don't know how fatigue may presently play a role in Xenonauts but, it can offer a good solution here. The difference in high strength and low strength could be resilience to fatigue rather then carrying capacity.

Imagine a Green, Yellow, Red system to fatigue. Going to have to make up some numbers to show what I mean. They have no attachment to any actual values.

First I think an average soldier is needed. Someone that other soldiers can be weaker or stronger in comparison. Let's say they have a Green limit of 25kg, a yellow limit of 30kg. So 0kg-25 kg they are in green fatigue, 25.1kg-30kg they are yellow fatigue, and 30.1kg+ they are red fatigue.

Strength can vary the placement of the limits in a few ways. If we assume 30kg is the "max carrying capacity of any soldier" then a higher strength character can merely be reducing the range within which they are yellow fatigue. So Max Hardmuscles could have green fatigue all the way up to 30kg. The weaker soldier would clearly have a larger range of yellow fatigue.

So then what can the fatigue levels do for gameplay? Well, perhaps Green fatigue does nothing and a Soldier can drop down to it by dropping items. Yellow Fatigue clearly needs a penalty. A reduction to time units perhaps? (which I assume are still in) Red fatigue would need to be a very harsh penalty to burden. Something that reduces the capacity to do much more then move.

One interesting trick that can be pulled with fatigue is having it be a built up penalty. Perhaps Yellow fatigue starts with no penalty and slowly grows over the course of turns. Perhaps Red fatigue simply grows very quickly but allows a soldier to take a Red fatigue burden for a couple of turns?

Thus strength winds up representing something closer to strength and endurance. An ability to hold and handle weight over a length of time. Strength may be a poor name for it but, it's also effectively what we mean.

The interesting idea about such a system is that it allows strength to be useful without being required. Going off ye old Xcom I imagine an operative picking up a fainted soldier for 3 turns with the fact they are high strength helping greatly. I also imagine being careful with my equipment set ups to stay within my limits. I also imagine shedding gear on a weak/average character in order to drag a friendly to extraction.

As I've said a few times though. I'm unsure where Xenonauts is right now and thus cannot speak directly to how it could fold into the current design. If there is no current fatigue system then this would require adding one. A whole new stat basically.

I can however speak about how to show such a system. I went with green/yellow/red for a reason. They are well known colors and indicators. The idea is that instead of showing the player a number line. You show something else. A red pop up "Soldier is very overburdened and will tire quickly". A yellow pop up "Soldier is slighty overburdened and will tire over time." Such a pop up warning would trick new players into avoiding fatigue limits entirely, thus ensuring the system doesn't punish them unexpectedly. Veteran players will simply learn when to ignore it.

PS:

Some other ways Strength can have gameplay meaning. It could be a factor in a Soldier breaking down a door or other object with a shoulder or kick. It could also affect the cost to perform certain actions. The TU cost to set up a heavy weapon could be base+variable with the variable component being affected by strength. (10+ 6-2 for example)

PPS:

I think that Strength being increased on site is kind of silly. However, I think that a soldier being able to increase his strength via a workout routine would make sense. Unsure how such a thing fits into current Xenonauts. Maybe a research to unlock a better workout routine can increase all soldiers strength (or carry capacity) by an amount? Assuming individual training exercises are not an option.

PPS:

If it's too much to make strength work. I think outright removing it and hard-lining carrying capacity is a fine solution.

PPPS:

I also want to say that I don't think large values are needed to make something feel real. A high strength soldier having a relatively minor increase in KG still sells the fantasy just fine.

PPPPS:

I am very longwinded.

Edited by badgerdrool
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We have two physical stats right now - strength and tu's. Both of them rising too fast imo.

Also we have system, where strength affect accuracy of soldier - recoil stat on weapons, which for now used only on machineguns, so disposing of strength stat is not a good option.

I support variant with slow stat gain, maybe with added diminishing returns on strength gain speed.

As a variant, maybe in addition limit backpack size? Only things that it needed for right now is more rockets for rocket launcher and possibility of carrying corpse of an alien (or downed comrade) to dropship when trying to return and abort mission.

Actually, i think i have another idea.

Most weapons in game is 2handed. Only thing we really need slot for secondary weapon is combat shield.

I say, make this slot universal slot for everything, that player want to carry in addition to his main weapon. Be it backup pistol, grenade in fast-reach pocket, shotgun or rifle hanging on sling behind back, or even rocket launcher or machinegun, if soldier can carry such weight. Corpse of an alien can be carried this way too. Add to that slight penalty to accuracy if thing in backup slot is 2handed or have too much weight to balance this out.

This way we can have combat shield mechanic intact, usefulness of secondary weapon slot increased greatly, and backpack can be made smaller or even dismantled in favor of set of pockets.

Tied to limited strength gain, i think that would provide more options to choose what to carry with you.

P.S. I was thinking about posting this in separate suggestion thread, so if this idea is better discussed there, just say it. Posted here because it ties in the same question - how make decision what to load soldiers with more interesting.

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-Badgerdrool: Sounds interesting, though current system already does a similar effect with only lacking a fatigue bar (wich would be awsome) its probably a bit late at this point to implement all that.

For me I agree on soldiers already being fit when you hire them so you cant expect much improvement in strenght. A hard cap for each soldier would do, say 20 + initial strenght max, with a very long time to reach that cap. This would keep variety and be true to the fact some people have better constitution than others and always will have a higher potential.

But I belive strenght would be more useful to govern how fast a soldier gets tired depending on weight of his gear, rather than determining maximun weight. Any soldier will lift 25 or 30kg , the question is how long each of them will keep his breath while running around with it.

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@badgerdrool:

We already have system, where overburdened soldiers have less tu, which work quite nicely - more you carry, less you can move AND shoot (dependency is linear, as far as i know). Do you really need more restriction than that?

Tiring over several turns, so soldier need to drop his weapons and rest a bit to regain possibility to even move is a bit over the top.

Not that it is inherently bad idea, but it is too much simulation for this game, imo.

P.S If only this system was in Skyrim, there it would add to fun while exploring =)

P.P.S After thinking a bit more, i feel that simulated tiredness between missions, so not to send only one single group on every mission is quite tempting really.

Edited by Lt_Parsons
p.p.s
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1. I don't care who you are. You have room for improvement. Even Olympic athletes work to improve themselves. Heck, especially Olympic athletes. The claim that these guys are at peak performance and can't possibly improve is baloney. I challenge you to find a top-tier athlete (or soldier) who believes he can't improve himself. Yes, the improvements are minor, and a lot of it comes down to technique and experience, but we don't have a system to represent those. We do have stats.

2. As a few others have said, stat gain was a fun system in the OG and it would be sad to gut it. I'd even say you can't do a faithful remake without some sort of stat gain. It should probably be slowed down for TUs, and certainly slowed down for strength, and maybe for accuracy in some cases.

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