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Indestructible interceptors?

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(EDIT - it was Lightzy's idea, not StellarRat's) posted this in another thread, and the idea struck me as quite novel (it's rare an idea on the forums does that these days). Essentially, it is as follows: interceptors cannot be destroyed. In combat, if "destroyed" they in fact have performed an emergency disengage after sustaining heavy damage.

To make this work, we would have to increase repair times significantly and put a large penalty in place for dropping below 1% health - so if your plane manages to disengage manually without being "shot down", it is much quicker to repair than if it was reduced to 0% health. If "shot down", you could see them out of action for a week or more.

This sounds very strange at first, but it does solve a major problem on the Geoscape - the fact that aircraft are a massive investment, which means losing one can effectively be game over. The way the air combat works means that players can quite easily accidentally lose a plane, and when we implement auto-resolve I can see the problem being even worse.

In short, we've got three options:

1) As now, with the planes being enormous investments of time and resources and destroyable. This makes what should be a relatively minor part of the game (the actual air combat) extremely important, as it can make or break the game.

2) The planes are destructible, but don't take as much time or resources to build. This would allow the player some leeway in terms of losing them. Doesn't make a lot of sense that they'd be faster and cheaper to make than vehicles etc, though.

3) Indestructible planes, as above. It means that planes can be a big investment and people are punished for using them badly in the air combat, but not that harshly. You still can't shoot down UFOs that too powerful for you, so it doesn't unbalance the game, it just makes things more forgiving.

I'm strongly warming to this idea. To an extent, it is dumbing down the game - but given how much aircraft have to cost relative to other things, I think it's quite sensible. What does everyone else think?

EDIT - I've posted a few things on the thread up to page 7, this is my concluding post: http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/5193-Indestructible-interceptors?p=63807#post63807

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I'm torn between 2 and 3. I tend to save-scum when I lose a plane (its so automatic that by the times its done I only just realise what I did), so 3 would remove the point of it.

Then again, the reason I save-scum isn't the actual loss of the plane so much as the cost and time of their weapons. I just find it annoying having to slot in manufacture time for them amidst the weapons and armour for my troopers.

Hmm...I guess I'll go with 3. Major investment, but a screw-up isn't game wrecking and you will probably miss a wave or 2 while they get repaired. Sounds like a good idea overall.

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That idea seems quite ok (option 3). If you reach "destruction" level, you end up fleeing with high repair times (75% of build time ?). Otherwise, normal as it is.

I've already posted something about "build times" in relation to other project types (and engineer number requirements), but the monetary costs would still be the same, loosing one still is crippling.

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I'm torn between 2 and 3. I tend to save-scum when I lose a plane (its so automatic that by the times its done I only just realise what I did), so 3 would remove the point of it.

.

Maybe play the only legit mode for this game called "ironman"?

Moving on to the topic. Another change like unlimited ammo that maybe makes the game little better but makes my heart cry blood tears. eh...

Edited by Squibie

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Another change like unlimited ammo that maybe makes the game little better but makes my heart cry blood tears. eh...

Might want to see a doctor about that :eek:

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Well, it does mean that big-ticket items can be BIG-ticket items. A plane can be extremely expensive, but it's a one-off cost. I'm all for it.

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I think that work would have to go into the UI feedback etc. I think that the UI damage indicator would need to change. so 100% damage visually registers at say 80% with a red line that says disengage

If you are shot down the UI should have a variation on messages to be more interesting, depending on location, but the gist should be:

"To avoid defeat, your quick thinking pilot has crash landed his interceptor with heavy damage. Salvage teams are on route to recover the aircraft." If all planes are shot down or you win it returns to geoscape.

After combat you can get a repair message popup. E.g.

Massive damage = 7days to return to service - Critical damage 10 days to return to service.

Its a mircacle= 3days to return to service.

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I'm curious why a player just can't invest lot's of money into building a back-up fleet.. Because you get tons of cash from friendly nations now. I had 2 bases at the end of the 2nd month and plenty of fighters, if I recall in v18.5. Could it be an optional feature?

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The problem with having destructible interceptors in any form is that you have to balance the game that to assume that the player will occasionally lose some of them (otherwise it is literally game over the moment you lose one).

This isn't a problem in itself, except that aircraft are the most expensive and time-consuming things to build aside from bases. So if you have a player that is really good at the air combat or knows the auto-resolve combinations, they will be able to play through the game without losing any planes.

The problem there is that because planes are so expensive, it means that they'll save a huge amount of money relative to the average player who occasionally loses an aircraft. This money can be spent on other parts of the game, making the ground combat substantially easier because a plane's-worth of resources buys a lot of weapons, soldiers and armour

This means that the game becomes more about doing the air combat without losing any planes than it does about being good at the ground combat missions, which really isn't meant to be how the game works. If the player currently has loads of money, that will be reduced by balance patches as the beta continues to evolve.

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I'm on the fence about this. I like them being destructable, but I can understand the balance issues, although I get the impression most of the balance issue revolves around the early game right? The bit when you're struggling for resources and cash is what you're worried about?

This is only an idea, but what about making the MIG and Condor quite cheap and quick to build/replace, and keep the rest of the other more advanced aircraft in their current state?

The "logic" being that the MIG and Condor are simply existing airframes which are donated to the Xenonauts by the funding nations (like ballistic guns are) and the small cost+time are the modifications to Xenonauts specifications, whereas the others due to their bespoke nature represent serious research and investment.

The result would mean if you do lose a plane early on (when you're only using F17/MIGs), then it's not a massive game ending blow and you won't have to balance the game around it, but it keeps up the value of the higher aircraft.

In the later stages, it'll mean losing an advanced plane is a blow, but thanks to having more resources and hopefully some backup equipment, you'll be able to simply quickly knock up a couple of MIGS/Condors and equip them with the higher tier aircraft weaponry to at least maintain some air capability, rather than leaving you in the lurch as it can currently do.

It'll also underline the worth of the better planes, and keep the all important feeling of loss which tbh, makes the game much more interesting and engaging to play.

Edited by Buzzles

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Definitely liking the idea. Right now, air combat seems to end with one side dead and the other side unharmed very often. This could provide the wiggle room for making air combat more "dangerous" without making it crippling.

Also, I'm just gonna throw another option I could imagine out there: repair costs. Could be a kind of upkeep thing while it's being repaired, or a one-time cost that's only necessary if the craft was "destroyed". Or maybe even just an option to shorten repair time.

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3 seems to make sense to me, it's been a struggle for me to see how to balance air combat to make it more interesting without disrupting the economy.

If we do go with 2 balancing it around Buzzles suggestion sounds good - maybe there were a fleet of Charlies upgraded after the iceland incident xenonauts can get free, and MIGs are a bit cheaper to ugprade?

1 wasn't actually an option. :P

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I can see the appeal of the idea from a design point of view. There's a simple elegance to it and it removes some of the headaches.

Isn't it funny Chris how the more you think about things the more you are lead down the EU2012 design philosophy?

For example, with cost and build time of ammo magazines removed the only consideration remaining is carry weight but with so much other, more relevant, equipment to handle that it would be very easy to justify removing ammo items and going for a EU reload system, would make balancing easier as well.

What about grenades? With no cost, time or storage issues how do you balance grenade vs. gun? Just in terms of weight efficiency? Or maybe it'd be just easier to make them a limited use ability that takes up an equipment slot? Would certainly make things easier from a design point of view. I know there's more to these things but I'm keeping it deliberately simple.

What if a base gets destroyed in an alien attack and you lose 2-3 planes that way? If the game is balanced around not losing interceptors losing a base with hangars becomes a game ending event most likely. So what's the point of having attackable bases if you're never suppose to lose those engagements? You can see where this line of reasoning is going.

You can really see the struggles of poor Mr. Solomon mirrored in your own.

Maybe I'm being over dramatic out of ignorance but I feel you need to take a moment and think on the direction things are going and what you want the end product to be. A lot of X-Com's pointless management wasn't so pointless maybe and every time one of those things is removed something unidentifiable yet important is lost perhaps.

I'm not trying to be overly critical here and I'm not necessarily against the idea, and I certainly don't have you insight but I'm asking you to give this a careful consideration. It's easy to get carried away on the path of least resistance.

Edited by Jean-Luc

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Buzzles - nah, even with advanced weapons the early-game interceptors have no chance against end-game UFOs. Which is why this is sort of necessary. If the early-game interceptors did have a chance against end-game UFOs, there'd be no point building the late-game interceptors.

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Would more advanced Interceptors have to go out of commission for even longer than the default ones?

Even though the whole thing does sound like dumbing down, when you just reload anyway when you lose your interceptors, I suppose it makes sense.

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The only UFO game that made me worry about losses was apocalypse You would have your finger over return to base because losing ships was bad bad bad. However, the difference there was that the base vehicle- hovercars, could be cheaply replaced and valkyries, the troops transporter made for a bloody powerful interceptor if you switched out the modules. These were also purchased from the corporations and included zero manufacturing time. You literally clicked order and they flew to your base.

In the other UFO games I hit aggressive, flew in close, blew stuff up and won.

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I'd want to double the Jean-Luc and other guys here.

And i'd like to think there can be another way to build this game, while keeping all of the little wonderful lovely details onboard. Like destroyable bases really meaning something other than "load game". Like the interceptors losses being acceptable without the "barely escaped" crutch. The decisions made on the battlefield, including ammo reservation, really being meaningful in the geoscape during the hard times. I'd like to think all that, but i won't ask you to rebalance the game just for my wishes.

Chris, it may be the important point for your game now. And yes, i will emphasise the fact that it's your game. I will not say my money was wasted on you cause they will not be wasted, no matter what will you do with the Xenonauts. You are the game designer, the lead developer. You know this game better than all of us, what is good, and what will be bad. And whatever you choose, i will support you. And forum, i'm sure, will support you. We believe in you and in your decisions.

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StellarRat posted this in another thread, and the idea struck me as quite novel (it's rare an idea on the forums does that these days). Essentially, it is as follows: interceptors cannot be destroyed. In combat, if "destroyed" they in fact have performed an emergency disengage after sustaining heavy damage.

To make this work, we would have to increase repair times significantly and put a large penalty in place for dropping below 1% health - so if your plane manages to disengage manually without being "shot down", it is much quicker to repair than if it was reduced to 0% health. If "shot down", you could see them out of action for a week or more.

This sounds very strange at first, but it does solve a major problem on the Geoscape - the fact that aircraft are a massive investment, which means losing one can effectively be game over. The way the air combat works means that players can quite easily accidentally lose a plane, and when we implement auto-resolve I can see the problem being even worse.

In short, we've got three options:

1) As now, with the planes being enormous investments of time and resources and destroyable. This makes what should be a relatively minor part of the game (the actual air combat) extremely important, as it can make or break the game.

2) The planes are destructible, but don't take as much time or resources to build. This would allow the player some leeway in terms of losing them. Doesn't make a lot of sense that they'd be faster and cheaper to make than vehicles etc, though.

3) Indestructible planes, as above. It means that planes can be a big investment and people are punished for using them badly in the air combat, but not that harshly. You still can't shoot down UFOs that too powerful for you, so it doesn't unbalance the game, it just makes things more forgiving.

I'm strongly warming to this idea. To an extent, it is dumbing down the game - but given how much aircraft have to cost relative to other things, I think it's quite sensible. What does everyone else think?

I had a good idea about this this morning. Why not make the airframes really cheap or even free, but allow the players to build the avionics and modified engines relatively quickly and cheaply and IMPORTANTLY store them? Here is my line of reasoning:

1. Main Premise: It's the height of the Cold War. The major powers have literally thousands of combat aircraft and pilots in their inventories therefore they can let XCom "borrow" an unlimited number of them in game terms.

2. If XCom is only responsible for assembling a modified engine and avionics package for the jets then you could allow those to be stockpiled in inventory. When a plane is lost a new one arrives within hours or a day and all the engineers have to do is put the "package" into the plane and it's ready to go. You could just call them the "Condor Package" and "F-35 Package", etc... Most planes in that era had modular replacements. Replacement engines and electronics are just snapped into to place in a matter of hours or even minutes. You could make these packages cheaper and take less assembly time than a full AC.

Note about 1 and 2: I don't know if this would apply to completely custom built planes using alien tech, but I do think having quick access to Level 1 and 2 AC would probably be enough to keep a game going even if you don't have the best AC available at all times. #3 (below) should apply to all AC no matter what type. After all if Level 1-2 aircraft are quicker and cheaper you can launch multiple sorties to bring down the tougher aliens, however, it would be necessary to balance that so it is still better to use upper level AC when available. Perhaps a drop in funding if your level 1-2 AC losses are too high.

3. Air Combat Mechanics Changes: Any aircraft that receives any damage IMMEDIATELY does a Split-S maneuver (a very quick vertical dive and 180 degree turn) and bugs out of combat at max. speed (afterburner). There is still a chance the AC will be shot down, but this should reduce casualties substantially. This maneuver would not be under control of the player, the game would force it. Anything else is essentially telling the pilot to commit suicide. In all my reading about air combat I've maybe only read one account where a fighter pilot continued combat with a damaged plane. It just doesn't happen. A pilot has his hands full when his AC is damaged and will make every attempt to disengage.

4. You should start with more AC and hanger space at the beginning of the game. I think three or four Condors is reasonable. This will allow you to continue fighting even if you lose a couple AC at the start.

Edited by StellarRat

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Enable to ability to rent certain fighter craft so that money is deducted every month for cost but at a reduced rate to buying?

More advanced aircraft could be rentable as soon as the plans are developed for them. Thus reducing cash burden.

The old xcom had a generous way of sustaining your budget by allowing you to sell all kinds of tech for very high prices.

Maybe even the balance by increasing income from rewards? Maybe crash sites in water could be salvaged without a fight for randomly reduced returns. Ie another use for charlie. Soldiers could be assigned to certain nations to simulate them training national armies. For a return of cash and a bonus to nation.

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i'm strongly AGAINST Indestructible Interceptors.

You know, there are people out there that enjoy playing games in which you can actually lose.

People that find it thrilling to know that things can suddenly go terribly wrong.

People that always play Ironman/Hardcore and scoff at save-scumming.

Please don't ruin te game for these people. If you really have to implement that, do it only for lower difficulty levels or at least leave 1 difficulty level that's clear of that s***

I personaly vote for just rebalancing the costs/build times so one can afford to lose not only f-17s but higher tier aircrafts as well. Other than that, its not too hard to think a move or two ahead and just keep some cash handy to rebuild your aviary if sh#t happens

PS: Or perhaps you can introduce repair costs, so if a plane is downed it can be repaired for say half its original price. But NOT for free.

Edited by Stinkspray

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In retrospect yeah, a repair fee and some time to repair it sounds more effective. Still takes something away from the player rather than waiting, but doesn't outright cripple them.

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Stinkspray - wouldn't you rather the difficult bit where you could lose the game was the ground combat, rather than the air combat? I don't think many people are interested in the game primarily because of the air combat minigame, hence why the issue of it being overly important at present arises.

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Stinkspray - wouldn't you rather the difficult bit where you could lose the game was the ground combat, rather than the air combat?

Well, im afraid that if we go that direction we may soon find ourselves commenting on another topic titled "Immortal Soldiers" or something :)

+ i really like the air combat. Actually, i'd like it even better if it had some random factor to it so it was possible to lose even if you do everything perfect - like evade well, kite well, tail well, time missile salvos well and STILL lose. But i know its just me :)

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