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TomAce

Suggestions for improving the gameplay in Xenonauts

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Hi there,

I have been playing Xenonauts for several months now and although I do enjoy the game and am very impressed with all the work you guys have put into it, I do think it could be improved upon a great deal.

I would like to make some suggestions on how to improve the gaming experience in Xenonauts.

1. Character portrait animations[/i]: I can´t stress how important this is for better immersion into the game as well as it making the player more fond of his characters and more intent on keeping them safe. Animations would include eyes blinking, head looking from side to side(eyes as well), smiling/frowning/open mouth(shock), grimace(teeth showing when hit for example), yawning etc.

2. Text above soldiers used to describe soldier actions/mood: When hit they could say: "I´m hit!". When taking fire and being suppressed: "I´m taking heavy fire!". When healed by a fellow soldier: "Thanks man, I needed that...". After successfully hitting an alien and even killing one: "Enemy is hit." or "Enemy neutralized.".

I hope you get my point... Some randomization for each situation would also be very helpful for the enjoyment of the battles.

3. Hit Point counters above aliens: This could be input as standard from the start of the game or through researching something like a scanner(such as the Scanner from the original X-com game) that tells you where aliens are spotted on the map and where they were last seen before disappearing from view. With scanner in hand, a soldier would be able to click on any alien in view to see it´s remaining HPs and even what type of armor and weapon it is using. Incorporate any or all of these functions into a scanner module and I am sure that players will find it to be a most useful item.

4. More maps and diverse terrain: I have tons of ideas for this matter. The importance of having a large number of different maps to play on is one of the highest for any X-COM clone. I have played too many such games with very few types of maps and/or variation in maps(meaning random map generators) so I know what a letdown that can be. Players get bored quickly playing the same maps over and over again. I suggest more varied terrain with hills and inclines to climb unto and over. You have done a great job with cover(we already have boxes, rocks, boulders, barrels, cars, containers etc.)though. How about buildings with 3 or more floors, elevators(just think of the mechanics of stairs, u must elevate the view and click on the square above the soldier to move him up a level) and the ability to jump down from a floor(with a jump down from 3rd floor or higher killing a soldier with less than 70 HP instantly f.eks)?

5. More strategic battle types: I was thinking about tactical mission linked directly to the "reports of alien activity" which we see all too often around the globe but can do nothing about. This, to me, is very frustrating and I would like to be able to click the "report banner" and see some detailed information about the event, send in a recon unit to check things out and solve the problem. The nation whose territory is being subject to alien activity might offer a reward for completing the mission and as such, a completion of that mission would also improve relations between Xenonauts and the aforementioned nation.

The variance in tactical maps and unit size, total scale of the tactical missions etc., should be kept to a minimum however. Here is a list of mission types I have in mind.

A) Rescue mission: Rescue a set number of scientists/specialized civilian workers/politicians(or any other important figure), with the total number of soldiers being 4, making it much quicker to play the mission which should also be rather easy with only 4-6(roughly) aliens to fight. Now this new type of mission would require some way of getting the people to be rescued to the helicopter. This could be achieved in several ways: Make a soldier go up to a civilian and heal him with a medkit, this would program the civilian a direct path to the chopper or even teleport him inside if the earlier solution is too hard to program into the game. Create an option to click on a civilian and choose between: 1> Follow me. 2> Stay. 3> Go to chopper. Last but not least and the easiest way would of course be to just eliminate all of the aliens, making the area safe for the people to get back to their homes.

B) Intelligence gathering: Send a squad of up to 4 soldiers to gather up important documents that must not fall into alien hands. Said documents could be on the floor inside a specific building and glowing in a certain color, they could be picked up just like any other item and put into inventory. Soldiers will need to return to chopper to complete the mission or the mission will be automatically completed once the documents are in a soldier´s inventory. Aliens will guard the building making the player have to eliminate some or all of them to get to the documents.

C) Forest fires: Aliens have set a small forest ablaze using plasma weapons, these alien terrorists must be disposed of to complete the mission. The addition of multiple fires all over the map(with some buildings on fire perhaps) and lots of smoke will make navigation and combat much more tricky, it could be an interesting battle.

D) Ocean battle: Fighting on a small ship, an oil tanker or even an off-shore drilling platform would be an amazing distraction from the mundane land combat. Again, you should choose a set amount of soldiers and aliens for the map, but keep the number smaller than in traditional land maps. Elimination or securing the bridge/control room for 5 turns would win the battle.

I have some bugs to report as well. 1. The aliens are still shooting through the floors of UFOs. 2. Houses can be blown to smithereens if the walls/windows/doors are hit for a set amount of damage(was this intentional? did buildings have HPs programmed into the game?) and all that is left is a lot of debris which all looks like a ton of matchsticks...my soldiers have died because of this and so have the aliens unneccesarily by destroying the building they were in, depriving me of the satisfaction of killing them myself. Oh, and when you walk into the debris field, the game crashes. 3. Game crashes when trying to send out a fighter that is being repaired/recovered, even if paired up with other intact fighters in a group.

Some other suggestions for the game would be to allow the player to ask for assistance in UFO air combat missions, when you click on a UFO you would then have the option of Engage or Allow Allies to Engage. The success or failure would be through the already programmed Auto-Resolve feature. The allies would of course only be flying their standard interceptors, closely resembling the F-17s performance and armed with Sidewinders(so they should only be able to take down Small Scouts, Scouts and Fighters). This would be useful to take down or assist in taking down multiple UFOs, since you have to go back and re-arm/refuel your fighters after every single engagement. How the success/failure of the allied air combat affects relations or even allied military air power after consistent losses is totally up to you guys.

I kind of liked the ability in one of your earlier versions of the game where you could pay to call in an artillery strike to finish off a downed UFO. It is just too time-consuming and boring having to finish those easier missions(and if you leave them alone will that give bad relations towards Xenonauts?? I am not sure, that´s why I finish ALL UFOs I shoot down or try to shoot smaller ones down over the water), such as downed Small Scouts and Scouts all the time. Something similar, like having an Auto-Resolve feature for allied squads doing the work for you, would help us out alot. You might perhaps try having fewer UFOs appearing randomly every week, allowing players to focus more on research and manufacture etc.

Buying and Selling: One of the things that made X-COM great was how you were able to buy standard equipment and sell EVERYTHING you got your hands on from battles and through manufacturing.

Don´t get me wrong, I like the fact that standard ammo and equipment/weapons etc. are unlimited but you should be able to sell what u manufacture for profit as well as alien tech and corpses. This would also help your allies get better equipped for future engagements both in the air and on the ground....

I am asking a bit much I know... Especially since the game is coming near completion..

But I sincerely hope that you could incorporate at least some of my ideas into the game, as long as it isn´t too much trouble for you guys. I could even help out with making some of those additions work, at least on paper, since I have quite a good eye for detail and loads of ideas and ways to work around problems.

Thanks for all your efforts in making this brilliant game, I absolutely love playing it. :)

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My personal opinion on your suggestions

1. This is rarely executed well (can't think of a single example off the top of my head where it is), and I don't think putting pressure on Goldhawk to do this at this stage is going to do anything but make everything worse. As such I am against it.

2. This is totally not needed, and for me not wanted.

3. Perhaps something to be implemented in lower difficulties but not higher ones?

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Short responses:

1. No.

2. No.

3. No.

4. WIP

5. A) No. B) No. C) No. D) No.

Long responses:

1. This is unnecessary and nearly impossible to do with the absurd number of custom portraits in the game.

2. This is actually terrible in every game it appears.

3. Unnecessary.

4. Work In Progress.

5. A) Escort missions suck. B) This is legitimately a bad suggestion. C) We're the defense force, not the fire brigade. D) TFTD.

Edited by Assoonasitis

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1. This is rarely executed well (can't think of a single example off the top of my head where it is), and I don't think putting pressure on Goldhawk to do this at this stage is going to do anything but make everything worse. As such I am against it.

If you have ever played any of the UFO: After- games(aftermath, aftershock and afterlight) you would see how much nicer it would be for immersion in battles, the characters being shown more alive instead of static icons only animating once they are moved.

The animation on character portraits in Afterlight were especially impressive and lifelike and added much enjoyability to the strategic battles.

I do agree with you however, that Goldhawk would probably not have enough time to make such animations at this stage, but imo they should have been done ages ago, if not by them then by fans of the game.

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Seriously? All the portraits are hand-drawn, which means that every frame of animation has to be, again, hand drawn to maintain the look and feel of the portraits. The portraits are also fairly detailed, which means it's a stupid amount of work to animate even one of a ridiculous number of portraits, and it won't fit the feel of the game or improve anything and will, in all likelihood, look completely stupid. I know what my face looks like when it moves, so if they don't animate my face properly, I'll have issues with it.

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If you have ever played any of the UFO: After- games(aftermath, aftershock and afterlight) you would see how much nicer it would be for immersion in battles, the characters being shown more alive instead of static icons only animating once they are moved.

I've seen many games use animated portraits. If they aren't done extremely well then they're distracting, obnoxious, and unwanted. A static image is easy to do right and works just fine. The only acceptable example I can think of for animated portraits was MechCommander, which only brought them up very sparingly in tense moments and used recorded video of actual people, while otherwise using static portraits.

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SCII's animated portraits are just fine also, but that's a AAA title from a studio with basically limitless resources.

Edited because I was unnecessarily mean.

Edited by Assoonasitis

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Some other suggestions for the game would be to allow the player to ask for assistance in UFO air combat missions, when you click on a UFO you would then have the option of Engage or Allow Allies to Engage. The success or failure would be through the already programmed Auto-Resolve feature. The allies would of course only be flying their standard interceptors, closely resembling the F-17s performance and armed with Sidewinders(so they should only be able to take down Small Scouts, Scouts and Fighters). This would be useful to take down or assist in taking down multiple UFOs, since you have to go back and re-arm/refuel your fighters after every single engagement. How the success/failure of the allied air combat affects relations or even allied military air power after consistent losses is totally up to you guys.

This feature would be actually rather easy to implement. Since the game lore says that only Xenonaut interceptors are somewhat capable of taking on the UFOs and standard interceptors get fried if they get close, the Allies button would just increase the casualities number by the count of pilots who were called in and didn't make any difference. Simple as that :).

More maps and diverse terrain: I have tons of ideas for this matter.

I don't think having tons of ideas matters at this point. If you want to make a difference, try spending tons of time with the map editor.

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Chill out, guys. There was nothing in the OP where he was demanding that we dropped everything to implement his suggestions, he was just politely offering his ideas and that's what this forum is for.

Unfortunately quite a few of them aren't really possible due to the amount of work required for them / the stage of completion of the project / gameplay reasons (for example, doing animations on over a hundred portraits isn't possible and voice acting gets grating unless you have a LOT of it).

Out of interest, are you playing the V19 Stable version or the V20 Experimental builds? There's many more maps in V20 Experimental, and the "artillery" option for dealing with crash sites is in the game - it's just called Airstrike. The current version is a bit unbalanced with regards to the air combat but there's a lot of improvements in it. Well worth checking out if you've not already.

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Sorry, Chris. I'm cranky today.

Content: none of these suggestions, aside from extra maps, affect the gameplay in any way at all.

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True, but just saying you don't think those suggestions are worth the effort required to implement them because they don't affect gameplay much (and explaining why you think they're more work than the OP believes them to be) means nobody gets offended. People are usually happy enough with a "no" if the reasons behind it are explained.

Perhaps it'll cheer you up to know I'm processing your portrait at the moment?

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Chill out, guys. There was nothing in the OP where he was demanding that we dropped everything to implement his suggestions, he was just politely offering his ideas and that's what this forum is for.

Unfortunately quite a few of them aren't really possible due to the amount of work required for them / the stage of completion of the project / gameplay reasons (for example, doing animations on over a hundred portraits isn't possible and voice acting gets grating unless you have a LOT of it).

Out of interest, are you playing the V19 Stable version or the V20 Experimental builds? There's many more maps in V20 Experimental, and the "artillery" option for dealing with crash sites is in the game - it's just called Airstrike. The current version is a bit unbalanced with regards to the air combat but there's a lot of improvements in it. Well worth checking out if you've not already.

Thank you Chris, for your support on my behalf. As you said, I was just trying to give some suggestions and (hopefully) new ideas IF they could be implemented into the game.

I am currently playing the V19 Stable version and no haven´t tried the V20 Experimental build out yet. I tend to shy away from the experimental ones since I have lost plenty of save games in updating the game. Or is the V20 able to be installed as a separate game? I would hate to start having to play the game from scratch for the fifth time... :rolleyes:

Btw, I was a little bit offended by your earlier comments, Assoonasitis, but you have sort of apologized for being, as you said "too cranky"... so I forgive ya man, peace. :)

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You can switch between the different branches as you like (though it's a download each time). Provided you don't delete the save games, if you changed back to V19 you'd be able to load your old saves again.

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I like the oil tanker idea, I think the game would benefit in the long run from a variety of mission types. If you can come up with like 10 "specialty missions" and make them rarer it would spice things up. Some could be easily done on the same maps in game just having different win objectives, but I really like the oil tanker idea, I think that would be an amazing place to battle if it didn't blow up from the fire fight, might want to consider using a cargo ship and not an oil tanker for that reason. Would it be possible to add in urban crash site maps for when a ufo crashes within a certain distance of a city thats on the map? then maybe add in a lot of civvies and give the combatant aliens orders to slaughter as many civilians as possible before they die, those could be fun. I quickly grow tired of the same old ground missions over and over, even if the maps are different the mission is the same, the tactics are usually the same, and of course the outcome it predictable.

I have started to miss some of these things from the newest xcom game, but the geoscape portion of the game is so linear and boring that I can't get myself to play it again.

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You can switch between the different branches as you like (though it's a download each time). Provided you don't delete the save games, if you changed back to V19 you'd be able to load your old saves again.

I don't know if I misunderstood this. But you actually don't have to re download things.

If you make a copy of the folder and paste it on your deskopt (or anywhere else) and then download the other branch into your original folder(this was for the steam version), you can have both at the same time.

That is how I am running v19 for a stream and then sometimes switch over to 20.7 on my own time and I don't have to download any new stuff.

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I don't know if I misunderstood this. But you actually don't have to re download things.

If you make a copy of the folder and paste it on your deskopt (or anywhere else) and then download the other branch into your original folder(this was for the steam version), you can have both at the same time.

That is how I am running v19 for a stream and then sometimes switch over to 20.7 on my own time and I don't have to download any new stuff.

Good to know. Thanks for the info there. :)

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Ryodan, I have so many ideas for missions it would make your head spin lol.... but seriously, there are tons of players with great ideas for missions and some of them are actually making them in mission editor.

Now I don´t have that editor and I don´t know where to get it or if I would even be able to understand how to make missions in it but I would definitely try if I could get my hands on it.

So you liked my oil tanker/cargo ship idea, it´s good to know there are other fans of TFTD out there who appreciate the variety of missions available in the sequel to X-COM.

Sure it wasn´t as good as the original but the missions varied from terror sites on coastal cities to underwater battles to battles on ships at sea and I for one just friggin loved the diversity of it all.

Always been waiting for a clone that would combine both games into one.

Think about this: if you shot down a UFO over the ocean(or sunk an alien submarine), you could dive down to the wreckage and the combat would be vastly different from normal ground combat(even more so than in TFTD, with the pressure of the depth really taking a toll on movement and needing specialized weapons emphasizing solid round firepower over rate of fire).

Also there could be alien ground attacks where they send out attack forces from alien bases or landing ships, just like in terror missions only they would have vehicles and small deployable travel outposts with them(could be a pillbox, a radar transmitter or even a command post).

Then we have the standard terror missions where an alien landing ship releases a large platoon of aliens to terrorize the local population.

UFOs being shot down on land and last but not least, underwater attacks from alien UFO Subs(just like in TFTD) on shipping and coastal towns, oil rigs(maybe even an underwater research facility) etc. You might even enter a coastal terror site that would have the deep sea aliens(such as Gillmen) combined with a deep space alien strike force of Caesan troops...

Put all those types of missions in an X-Com clone and you would have a perfect strategy game imo.

Ok I´m really going off into a fantasy realm here lol, I better stop before I start playing X-COM clones all day just to fulfill that fantasy. :D

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The editors are included with the xenonauts download.

If you navigate to the xenonauts folder you will see xenonauts.exe to run the game (doesn't launch steam), GCLevelEditor.exe which you can use to build your own mission maps from existing submaps, and GCSubmapEditor.exe which is used to build the submaps.

There is a sticky with tips on how to use the editors in the modding forum if I remember rightly, worth a look if that's where your interest lies.

Note that you can only design levels to be used with the current game though, not add new mission completion goals and that type of thing.

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