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StK

No more positive points from ground combat - implications?

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So what happens if local forces down the UFO? I get no bonus relations at all? that doesn't seem right.

or in missions that don't really have a UFO component (at least in the early game because you cant take it)

like terror missions or alien base missions. Do I get boni from those?

(didnt get that far in v6)

That seems like a huge economical hit to the player, as byproduct to a seemingly small change.

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I'm also worried if the negative scores still take away from your country relations. Given that some terror missions end up with most civilians dead, I'd probably get a 'terrible' rating every time under the new system and take a big hit to country relations despite winning the mission.

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@cb1987 The relations bonus points got moved to shooting down the UFO in the first place, so as long as there is an interception part to the mission nothing much should have changed.

But I'm worried about missions that don't have an interception part

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Yeah I think taking away the rating and positive points from ground combat, even from the ones where you get relationship benefits for shooting down the ufo is a mistake. The debreifing screen needs to have some a "reward" beyond soldiers leveling up. Some kind of pat on the head and telling the player he is a good boy.. yes he is, yes he is. Here is a biscuit!

Ok that got a bit silly but something is required or the player will feel dissapointed.

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In the original, whenever I caught a UFO on the ground I would feel like I won something - more cash from undamaged alien ship, more carcasses to collect and sell, some saved money/resources from the ammo my interceptors didn't have to use.

Now, these missions will become even more worthless (from not offering much beyond shot down UFOs to offering less), being more difficult and likely to cause civilian casualties due to more aliens running about.

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It means landed UFOs, terror missions, and alien bases don't improve your standings/funding (and additionally the freebie missions if you get those).

This change is also a pretty significant buff to airstrikes (removes part of their opportunity cost) and it puts even more emphasis on air combat.

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@Dranak: Yes but that constitutes a net income-loss for the player and as v6 also increases the cost of early interceptor maintenance, I'm not sure if thats a wanted byproduct.

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The increase in interceptor maintenance is a separate change so it's best not to involve that in the discussion. The purpose of this change was to stop the game penalising players for using airstrikes, because it doesn't build their long term funding. Now the player gets the long term funding from shooting down the UFO and the air strike / ground combat mission just effects short-term funding.

You still get rewards from the missions, mostly from recovered technology that can be researched, soldier experience and money from selling the equipment recovered.

The updated mission end screen won't have scoring on it, it'll just be informative - it's not really for the game to tell you whether a mission was "good" or "bad". You can figure that out yourself. Nor does it makes sense your score would affect your monthly funding - why would a mission where you lost half your squad give you more funding increase than one where you lost nobody? The nation wouldn't care (and so forth).

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Also the two "local forces" UFO missions can't be airstriked, and only appear on Easy / Normal difficulty now. I don't see a problem to not getting a long term funding boost for completing them.

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Why indeed would nations care if the Xenonauts lost troops? What they would care, care quite deeply about is the loss of civilian and military life, as is reflected in the events that UFOs generate on the Geoscape. And that seemingly has no meaning now. So what if I or the aliens slaughter civvies. I shot the UFO down, right? So what if I'm more of a monster to my own race in an terror attack than the aliens are. I shot the UFO down, right? Chris, you've often said that ground combat is the most important part of the game. Well.. I gotta say, it isn't. Dranaks' right, air combat is more important. With air combat I:

  • Prevent events from being generated - maintaining relations
  • Prevent ground terror attacks from happening - maintaining relations
  • Prevent aerial terror attack from happening - maintaining relations
  • Gain relationship "points" from shooting down UFOs
  • Shoot down intercepting UFOs - keeping troops safe

With ground combat I:

  • Gain alien alloys and alenium
  • Gain items to unlock research which is 80% ground combat, 20% air combat
  • Gain money from sale of goods
  • Level up soliders

Air combat is way more important in two aspects. Firstly, I have to keep the money rolling in to fund my soliders extravagant lifestlyes. I don't have to do that in ground combat any more - I can airstrike downed UFOs. Secondly, if I don't shoot down UFOs, I loose. If ground combat has no impact on relations, I can't actually loose the game if I loose ground combat missions, but I can loose the game if I don't shoot down UFOs, to prevent events from being generated and to get the vital relationship points to keep funding up. We're back to where we were in earlier versions, when air combat was way more important than ground combat ever was.

Edited by Max_Caine

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@Chris: But all in all players get less money because in the mentioned mission types there is no way for them anymore to improve the funding of countries. So if the change was made because the overall income of players was to high then it seems plausible, but you said it was only to not penalize airstrikes too much.

And the increased maintenance is linked to this. Because higher interceptor costs means less air space coverage and as in v6 interception is the only way to increase long term funding, player funding takes a dive.

P.S. Awww.. Local forces downing crafts is linked to difficulty? I like this feature a lot, because it helps the immersion greatly and also makes the world feel more alive. That was always something that bothered me about the old X-COM and I loved the way you changed it.

P.P.S Just thinking here. How about moving the relations point back to the ground combat and awarding a relations increase for the airstrike mission similar to what a "medium" success on the ground mission would give you. Because as was already said even if countries wouldn't care about how you specifically dealt with the UFO, they would care about civilian casulties, local forces casulties and if you actually dealt with all the aliens in the region or of some fled the scene.

Edited by StK
thoughts on relations increase

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Also the two "local forces" UFO missions can't be airstriked, and only appear on Easy / Normal difficulty now. I don't see a problem to not getting a long term funding boost for completing them.

Those aren't the only ground missions that have no interception for funding increases. You can also assault enemy ships when they're landed, without shooting them down. Are we expected to wait for them to lift off again so that we can shoot them down, rather than assaulting them intact?

This is a change that really only should have been applied to crash site recovery missions. Taking an alien craft intact should be just as valuable for your relations as shooting it down.

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I think this is the poorest solution to the problem. I'm worried that without the psychological effect of getting scored on your performance at the ned of the mission it will be less fun...

Wait will the xenonauts, civvies and local forces death as well as alien escapes still provide penalties? Showing only penalties sounds like it will either make the player stop caring after a while or bum the player out.

I really wish you would reconsider this Chris. :(

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I'm with Gorlom on this.

Applying only negative scores for killing civilians will mean doing the missions is actually worse for national relations than ordering an airstrike. Often the civilians are beyond help anyway, so that's like a direct penalty for doing some missions. Ultimately, players will not care anyway though.

Removing the penalty altogether would be even worse, since then I'd just shoot anything that moves. After all, these locals tend to get in my line of fire, sometimes blocking a good shot, I actually stun them sometimes for that reason (usually though, because they keep shooting at stunned aliens). Shooting them is faster, and if it means no penalty then why not?

We need some kind of positive grading system for missions, and the rewards should always be better than airstrikes. Making airstrikes worth more money would do it for me I think. Between $70k for airstriking a landing ship and $220k I sometimes get, doing the mission is worth the effort for the money alone.

National rating and salvage were secondary reasons for my doing most missions, by a long shot.

I realize that at the core, this is a huge balancing issue - more rewards for doing missions means a broader spectrum of scores players may have at various stages of the game. Some will do a lot of missions and complain the game is boring and too easy, some will do too little and say the game is progressing too fast, because they are running on 1/3 income by the third month, compared to the former playstyle. Reducing the number of variables means you can engineer player experience more precisely, for example ensure they struggle for the first few months, so that finally getting the upper hand for a month or two will be more satisfying, and still be quite sure that the next progression of alien invasion will be more powerful than what the players have at their disposal.

The problem with this is that the more control you have over player progress, the less there will be viable approaches and strategies for us to try out.

I suggest you try balancing with some other things instead - for example with larger income from later UFOs - make later aircraft,weapons and armor more expensive and later research harder, so players have to set up more labs to progress past plasma technology at a satisfactory rate. So even if we do exceptionally well in first few months, later waves will even out the score and only that income will be enough to build more bases and advance, yet next tech levels and invasion strength will prevent us from thinking we're rolling in cash. The lose condition being - we progressed too slowly and get wiped out by the later invasion waves.

Edited by superbob

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You still get rewards from the missions, mostly from recovered technology that can be researched, soldier experience and money from selling the equipment recovered.

The updated mission end screen won't have scoring on it, it'll just be informative - it's not really for the game to tell you whether a mission was "good" or "bad". You can figure that out yourself...

From a game design/psychological perspective, I have to disagree. Logically, you're right, but as a player, I think having the game tell me I did good makes the game more fun. I think some system to rate the player (even if it's only cosmetic) would be pretty desirable. I'd like to see something like the XCOM Terrible/Poor/Ok/Good/Excellent ratings implemented, even if the wording is different. Yes, I can tell when a mission is a success, but especially after a pretty epic fight, it's nice to have some sort of affirmation in-game.

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From a game design/psychological perspective, I have to disagree. Logically, you're right, but as a player, I think having the game tell me I did good makes the game more fun. I think some system to rate the player (even if it's only cosmetic) would be pretty desirable. I'd like to see something like the XCOM Terrible/Poor/Ok/Good/Excellent ratings implemented, even if the wording is different. Yes, I can tell when a mission is a success, but especially after a pretty epic fight, it's nice to have some sort of affirmation in-game.

I doubt I'd notice if it was gone, to be honest. The stats on the screen do a much better job of summing up the mission, compared to a rather rigid rating system. Now that I think about it, I don't even remember if the original X-Com had them - all I remember is comparing the number of my dead versus theirs, and that two alien corpses could be sold for the cost of a new recruit. So I'd judge the success of a typical mission based on my kill ratio.

If a rating system has got to stay, I'd rather it be based on how many points you earnt versus total possible points. Right now, it seems to be that there are boundaries for a good mission, so a perfectly played ground combat level can still get you an "average" score at the beginning of the game.

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will the xenonauts, civvies and local forces death as well as alien escapes still provide penalties?

To be honest, focus of the discussion really depends on answer to this question. I didn't get a chance to see Build 6 in action but every concern can be fixed by simply re-introducing the point benefit for Terror/Base/Landed missions? (Since these missions can't even be airstriked, I don't even know why national bonus for these mission are cut should the information here be true).

I severely disagree with the mission score having no effect on the national rating. I thought these change might actually improve the value of civilians but if reverse is true... :(

Edited by ventuswings

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This change is the opposite of what needs to happen. Ground combat execution should be a big deal; it adds tension to the gameplay. Letting too many civilians die, killing civilians, letting all the local forces get killed, letting the aliens escape, failing to secure the UFO, etc, should have real repercussions (either as penalties or as simple opportunity costs for missing the reward). If the player doesn't have to worry about things going horribly wrong then he doesn't care as much when things go right.

Airstrikes should be reserved for smaller craft that you don't want to (or are unable to) clear manually, such as mid-game light scouts. If you're worried about new players relying too much on airstrikes, add tooltips on normal/easy informing them that airstrikes result in much less recovered equipment/relations increase/whatever.

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I just wan to add my support to the need for a relations boost from ground combat.

If you clear alien bases, halt terror missions, and capture landed UFOs, there should definitely be an increase to relations, rather than just stopping a decrease.

I feel like the air combat is starting to take over the game, rather than be a 'mini game'.

I do agree with getting some kind of relation boost from successful air combats, but not as big a boost as ground combat, and definitely not instead of it.

The poor/good rating etc, is really not that important to me, but the numbers do matter.

While I am talking about it, I think that the negative for lost civilians in a ground combat should be bigger, -2 or -3 each, to encourage some xenonaut heroism on the field.

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While I am talking about it, I think that the negative for lost civilians in a ground combat should be bigger, -2 or -3 each, to encourage some xenonaut heroism on the field.

First we'd need some improvement to civilian AI and how they are placed at the beginning of a fight. Right now I sometimes hear these poor shotgun dudes getting wiped out on the first alien turn, somewhere on the other end of the map.

Maybe if we changed the scoring system a bit, this could work more like what devs are planing? How about:

  • no points +/- for aliens that were killed/escaped

  • no points for civs/forces killed by aliens

  • 1 pt for captured aliens/saved civs

  • -2 pt for civs killed by xenonauts, -1 for local forces

  • negative points for xenonaut casulties

The logic behind last part is that losing a lot of soldiers does make Xenonauts look incompetent. If you expect to lose plenty of forces then you should just bomb the wreck. Unless you intend to sacrifice men to capture important aliens, which could offset the penalty.

This would give crazy/desperate players a way of improving their standing, if they really want to, but would be too unpractical in the long run to affect game balance for most non-crazy players.

Basically make the assumed baseline be the result of an airstrike - some collateral damage, some escaped aliens, but mostly just dead aliens. Sending forces would come at a risk of making a bigger mess.

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Unattended ground missions still lower relations so doing them "gains" relations via preventing loss, right?

But I'm not thrilled with this change either. Maybe the whole air strike thing was ill conceived from the start. Maybe it should've required some investment on the player's part so that there's no need to apply penalties elsewhere. And the mission rating was, imo, mostly about atmosphere. The rating is a reminder that the council is constantly watching and judging you.

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The only ground missions with penalties for not doing them are terror sites and alien bases.

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But I'm not thrilled with this change either. Maybe the whole air strike thing was ill conceived from the start. Maybe it should've required some investment on the player's part so that there's no need to apply penalties elsewhere...
Isn't the "player investment" in risking your aircraft to engage a UFO and the time and expense of building your air defense capabilities? Once a UFO is down the crew is doomed no matter what they do because they can't survive in our atmosphere for very long (according to the lore anyway.)

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Isn't the "player investment" in risking your aircraft to engage a UFO and the time and expense of building your air defense capabilities?

No, because you also risk that if you intend to follow up with a ground mission.

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No, because you also risk that if you intend to follow up with a ground mission.
But that's never been a requirement. Ground combat is really only "required" from a relations perspective when there is an alien terror attack or the aliens establish a base.

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