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Possible lore changes


Planetus
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I realize this is pretty late into game development to be changing lore and mechanics, but I'm new to the game and am hoping I can still squeak some suggestions in. First and foremost, as much as I'm loving the game, it seems to be almost an exact copy of the original X-COM. Down to the weapons, armor, and aliens, I mean. So, some suggestions, some of which would just mean changing a little text in research, others may mean small to moderate mechanic changes/additions. I hope at least a few of these may make it in, but I realize it may be too late.

1.) Caesan autopsy: Let's face it, these things are basically Sectoids from the first game. Now, I can't really blame the developers for having LGM (little grey men), or even for putting them on the front lines and making them ground-pounders. But the lore is almost an exact copy of the lore from X-COM. They're a genetically engineered, sexually atrophied clone army? Maybe just make substantial portions of their genetic code match exactly, evidencing substantial use of genetic engineering, but while their sexual organs may be small, they're still functional, suggesting a real species with some level of society behind them. Just a little text in the research section, but it changes the flavor of them noticeably.

2.) Reapers: This one will be a little more. Again, the reaper is just a copy of the Chrysalid from X-COM, but without so much universal alien lore to justify it. They look reasonably different, but they function exactly the same. While Chrysalids were a wonderful nightmare in the first game, as the remake of the first game has proven to me, they really don't carry that over too well. They've been done. What I would suggest it to try to make the Reapers a new kind of nightmare for a new generation and a new game. These Reapers wouldn't reproduce by attacking people and turning them into zombies. Instead, they attack just to kill. But then they lay an egg (taking most or all of a turn, leaving them potentially vulnerable if they do it in the middle of combat). The egg would be a large leathery, gooey sac, kind of like the face-hugger eggs from the Alien series. When it hatches (a few turns), several (1-3) Reaper larvae emerge. These are about 1 foot long and 2-3 inches in diameter and look like a kind of leathery worm/snake. They are fast and hard to hit, but have low HP (probably making grenades a good choice). They scurry across the ground at high speed, but maybe with very limited visual range, until they come across a target (corpse or person), at which point they attack the face. If the target has a shield or body armor that covers the face, they're safe, but otherwise there's a high likelihood that the attack will succeed, at which point the larva burrows into the mouth, destroying lips and teeth, burrows into the spine, and takes over the nervous system below the brain stem. The body is then pulled in and run down the target's throat. This is important, because the target should show no sign of being taken over until they're very close to one of your units (a few tiles), and you can clearly see the destroyed mouth. If one of your units get's hit, the game should say they've panicked, explaining them running wildly and out of your control. These infested targets still attack in melee, trying to beat you to death (or just unconscious) and eventually hatch into new Reapers, but the mechanic of the egg and larvae, especially if the Reapers are intelligent enough to pick up several corpses and take them to some kind of concealed 'nest' before laying their eggs. This means that just killing all the Reapers doesn't necessarily end the nightmare, and somewhat combines the terror of Chrysalids with that of Brainsuckers from X-COM 3 and some of the flavor of the Alien series.

3.) Melee plasma weapons: I haven't actually gotten to producing plasma weapons yet, but I'm guessing they'll go much like they did in X-COM (though I do like the change of plasma research leading to laser weapons). That being said, while a plasma bolt wouldn't be very effective at range (without something like gravitons or magnetic monopoles to hold it together), no such restriction applies to plasma flamethrowers (range of 3-4 tiles, fast to use, little to no need to aim, maybe even 1-handed, though maybe not), or a plasma-edged sword (think a sword blade that's open along the edge, leading inside the blade). When turned on, a tightly focused cutting torch of plasma erupts from the opening, creating a powerfully cutting plasma blade. This would go well with the shield, though the risks of closing to close-quarter combat would be high. These two weapons are things that were distinctly lacking from the first X-COM (though X-COM 3 at least had swords, but I don't think they had flamethrowers).

4.) Landing Zone Choices: When a mission starts, the player should be shown an aerial view of the map, giving the player a general layout (where buildings and streets are, but not what's in them or where doors/windows are) and maybe even showing the location of the crashed UFO if there is one. The player is then given a choice of appropriately open locations to land in, as well as the orientation of the aircraft. How many landing zones there are may vary from landscape to landscape (cities and dense forests would have fewer, while open fields and farmland should have more). This is a very sensible and realistic way of incorporating the pilot's decisions and the troops' looking out the window, while also giving the player a bit more of a strategic decision in missions.

I hope people like these ideas, and I hope at least a few of them make it into the final game.

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1-2. This game is supposed to be a spiritual sucessor to x-com. The similarity to x-com's aliens is intentional.

3. This isn't a bad idea. From what I understand of the technology, real life plasma weapons would likely take the form of a plasma 'thrower'. I have already suggested this to chris in another thread. Whether or not he puts it in the game is another story.

4. Would be complicated to code, and significant portions of the battlescape engine would have to be redone in order to accommodate this which is not feasible at this stage of game development. It would also eliminate the exploration aspect of the battlescape and the tenseness of finding an alien behind a corner. Part of the fun is "going in blind".

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First and foremost, as much as I'm loving the game, it seems to be almost an exact copy of the original X-COM.

That's kinda the driving force for Xenonauts....

...no such restriction applies to plasma flamethrowers (range of 3-4 tiles, fast to use, little to no need to aim, maybe even 1-handed, though maybe not)

There actually were plans to include a plasma flamethrower. Except they couldn't get it working just right...

4. While that would be more immerse, it would also kinda take away from the tension of the maps I fear. There's also the fact that Xenonauts runs on the Diner Dash engine so there's no telling how long they'd have to spend re-coding and bug fixing this little mechanic...

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Regarding #2. I'm involved in a sprite project and I can tell you that what you propose is "a damn lot" rather than "a little more". Making the sprites for the egg, the proposed larvae, infected models - these all add up to a considerable amount of work for the art assets and the proposed end result is exactly the same as the current reaper infection model (infect humans, get more reapers) but with an extended lifecycle. If the end result is going to be the same as the current model, what's the business case for investing the resources?

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I'm involved in a sprite project

Could it be... *gasp*.. the pink-dressed sebillian?

But it's truth. Making sprites is a vast amount of work. Adding a new weapon automatically means you have to add full range of sprites for every alien and every xenonaut armour.

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Thanks for the feedback. I realized when first posting these ideas that it may be too late for anything involving a mechanics change to make it in. I was just hopeful that something could be squeaked in under the door.

As for the aliens, IMO, spiritual successor does not equal exact clone. I was expecting a game with similar theme, similar gameplay, and similar mechanics to X-COM. I was not expecting a game that had Sectoids and Chrysalids virtually verbatim in it. Ok, I realize there's only so much you can do with (not so, in this case) little grey men. They're pretty much a staple of alien folk-lore. I think the lore could be a little more creative, but nothing drastic.

As for the Reapers... well, I just wish they were more unique. Honestly, my first Reaper experience was a let-down just because I knew exactly what was coming. I realize it's too late to change much in this game, but I can wish. And hope. In vain, no doubt.

The Reapers, though... Honestly, when I first saw one, I thought, 'Gee, I bet that's a Chrysalid. Let me kill it quickly. Yep, there's the zombie. Yep, there's the new Reaper. *Yaaawn*' Again, I realize it's probably too late for anything like the changes I had suggested, but I do think they'd be worth it. It wouldn't change the basic threat of the Reapers, but it would change the mechanic of it (i.e. killing all the Reapers isn't necessarily going to fix the problem), the flavor, if you will. And I'm not about to say that what I suggested i

As for another idea that would be easy to implement (it's just a bit of research text), I like that the developers put together a method for containing the plasma in a bolt. I'd like to suggest one minor change in that. Make it a magnetic monopole instead of a graviton particle. There are a number of theoretical physics reasons behind this (and yes, they're all highly theoretical), but in short it makes more sense to me.

Edited by Planetus
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Looking at what I've written, I believe I've mistaken bluntness for bluff honesty, so I apologise if I've come across harshly. If you want Chris to loosen the purse strings, come up with good reasons for him to do so. "A carbon copy of Crysalids" is a good start, but you need more than that. There are quite a lot of scientific fellows who frequent these forums and they've raised their own comments re. plasma. You may be interested in this thread and this one, even if they are fairly old.

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4) Picture an animated movie of the chinook flying towards the crash site. Smoke billows behind the buildings and outbreaks of fire await the landing team. The pilot shouts over the comms for instructions. The player then gets an overview of the map with a few rectangular landing point options. One is selected and then we go into round one of the mission. The player has had an overview of the map, while the aliens now know there are enemy forces on site and where they have landed. They will react accordingly.

The downside is that if the player knows where the UFO is, and if holding a UFO for 5 rounds wins the battle, the player will just land as close to the UFO as possible. It renders a large amount of the map as fairly pointless. It does change the strategy quite considerably, for both sides.

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Thanks for the suggestions. It's a bit late in development to change any of that, unfortunately - not to mention whatever particle physics technobabble explanation I put forward, I get suggestions to amend it to a different type of particle. After a while you just have to draw a line and say "no more changes", so other than balance changes needing to be reflected in research text there won't be further changes made to the Xenopedia.

Other things like picking landing sites are ideas we might use if we started over, but the game's really not designed around that sort of thing and so we'd just be shoehorning it in at this point.

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4) Picture an animated movie of a giant shoehorn, forcing it's way through the defensive fire of a grounded UFO. Smoke billows behind the buildings and outbreaks of fire await the landing team. The shoehorn pilot shouts over the comms for instructions and then crams the Xenonauts onto the Geoscape...

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...and ignorance claims another innocent-ish life.

As commonly known, in one of the very early versions of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, the rat catcher initially took all of the shoes of the town's children as punishment for non-payment. "As I will walk barefooted due lack of money for shoes, so shall your children walk barefooted as a reminder of debts owed." He called out to all the little shoes in the night, using a special musical instrument, known as the shoehorn. All of the little shoes and boots and sandals sneaked out of their owners homes and followed the rat catcher out of town, in step to his strange melody.

The townsfolk seemed upset, but not devastated. "Cobblers!" they shouted. Soon the children all had shoes again. That's when the rat catcher started to play for keeps...

The Shoehorn of Hamlin is now memorialised is a device used to extract reluctant feet from stiff boots.

Extended%20Shoe%20Horn.jpg

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Wow, love the feedback (especially that bit about the shoehorn), and love to see some fellow engineers in those other two threads on plasma. So, should I necro a thread that's 4+ months old or turn this one into a plasma technology one? I've got some real points on the whole plasma issue:

1.) Plasma vs lasers. Well, it really all comes down to the energy being applied and the manner of application. Yes, with equal energy, the laser would probably be more effective than the plasma simply because it delivers the heat better (assuming you're not dealing with something close to a white body, which the alien body armor may be). But given that the plasma weapons are alien and the laser weapons are human, I'm guessing the aliens are delivering a whole heck of a lot more energy in a very compressed bolt than we are in our laser shots (especially considering the laser is visible, but that's another issue). If I have a 1Kw laser and a 10Gw plasma generator, guess which one would hurt more. Hint: 10Gw is a whole ton lot more power than 1 Kw.

Moreover, the laser is applying heat to the surface of the target, and only produces a plasma if a certain temperature is reached, and only penetrates at all if a lower temperature is reached. If the plasma bolt is tightly enough contained, it can be a very high density and still be a plasma (which means it would have to be even hotter). This means it could penetrate, or at least stick to, the target much better than the laser could. Plus, since it is matter in physical contact with matter, heat transfer is a fairly simple and constant issue, whereas the effectiveness of the laser not only depends on it's power and the spectrum that it's in, but also in the albedo, or surface reflectivity, of the material it hits in that range. If I shoot plastic with an infrared laser, it will mostly pass through (to whatever is underneath), while water would absorb the light into heat (turning into plasma) and silver would actually reflect the laser away (dealing little to no damage regardless of the power).

2.) Plasma cohesion. The big problem with plasma weapons is that plasma is a (usually) superheated pseudo-gaseous material. When gasses get really hot, they have really high pressure, which means they tend to expand unless there's something keeping them contained. All the problems then result as the plasma bolt expands into a thin cloud of rapidly rising plasma. If it's contained, no such problems occur. Sure, it's really high pressure, so you need a lot of force to contain it, but that means it's still high density, so it can push though air easily and won't rise/diffuse/whatever your worries are.

To enact that containment, let's compare a theoretical graviton solution against a theoretical magnetic monopole solution (note the 'theoretical' in both those):

a.) The graviton solution has problems because

1. gravity attracts everything. Not just the plasma, but also the air right around it. So the plasma can still diffuse, become thinner, and thus rise relative to the air in any gravitational system. So, so containment.

2. while the overall strength of gravity isn't important, since you can always add more with infinite power, the range of gravity is. If you have enough gravity to keep that plasma bolt contained, you not only have enough gravity to pull in all the air around it, but also that car that's 50 feet away (or, more likely, the car 50 feet away is pulling in the graviton particles, or better yet, the Earth is).

3. while the plasma may well travel at whopping supersonic speeds (not entirely unreasonable), the graviton particle is probably traveling at somewhere around the local speed of light. That means as soon as you've fired the gun, the graviton particle is already gone. You'd need to fire a continual beam of graviton particles and, considering the problems discussed above, you'd still end up with a gravity beam gun, not a plasma gun.

b.) the magnetic monopole solution solves these problems by

1. being attracted by (and attractive to) only the charged plasma (and possibly some nearby ferrous metals, but that's probably weak enough and far enough away to be discarded). This means that the plasma can be contained separate from the non-charged air.

2. being a comparatively short ranged force. While the gravity would end up having a massive field of effect, the magnetism could only have an effect for a few feet away from the bolt, and even then, the net impact would be more like a wake as the bolt passes by than a continuous force of any kind.

3. being self-containing inside the plasma. Ok, we already talked about that, but it gets into speed here. The magnetic monopole would (complete guess here) probably travel at the speed of electricity, which is still a whole heck of a lot faster than the plasma bolt, but because it's just as attracted to the plasma as the plasma is to it (and not to anything else nearby), it could form a circuit inside the plasma as it zips happily along in it's plasma bottle. In the mean while, it's magnetic effect is corralling the plasma, causing it to zip happily along in it's magnetic bottle. The two tie together quite nicely and allow you to have a self-sustaining (since this is a particle, not a field) magnetic containment bottle in the plasma.

Ok, yeah, I understand that there's a point when, after 1,000 edits have been made, that you just have to lock it down. Too bad. I should have gotten here sooner I guess. :P

Edited by Planetus
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  • 2 weeks later...

While it is too late to change core aspects of the game, I believe there is still a safe way to "fix" the one beef I have with the game's lore (and partially gameplay); the Charlie.

Yes, it is 1979 and we don't have the fancy Skyranger anymore, but it is really more than a little silly that anyone would even try to modify a transport chopper in order to fly around the entire world and back. The Charlie in the game has twice the cruising speed compared to real world heavy transport choppers if the "500" value in the game files means exactly 500 kph, now that requires some crazy specs. That is to say nothing of the poor pilots who have to drive the thing with no chance of rest.

Might I suggest that the Xenonaut transport lore be modified such that soldiers are transported from the base by a conventional fixed-wing plane instead, and the Chinook / Charlie / generic helicopter is what brings them from the airstrip to the combat zone. Perhaps the plane could be fluffed to be a very light transport modified to easily land on the shortest and most uneven landing strips. It doesn't really require the game mechanics to be changed, the same little green chopper icon just moves in a beeline to the target.

And then the Shrike comes along and we can throw all of the previous problems out the window and just go with it being an indirect Skyranger expie.

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I guess it's the "gameplay vs realism", but if you're not knowledgeable enough, take the Chinook's service ceiling and max speed, and calculate true airspeed from this data, and it won't be that far from 500km/h, if we take winds into account. However, if you are knowledgeable enough, you'll know that it's impossible for many reasons. :)

I'm all for keeping the 500km/h value on the Chinook with no changes.

EDIT - as for the range... aerial refuelling?

Edited by HammerHead
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Aerial Refueling was a concept just starting to be tested out in the mid-70's, so the idea of the Xenonauts having rushed out methods to improve the process for the pre-Shrike transport era is entirely plausible. Still means those pilots are gonna be dead tired because them Chinooks have ZERO creature comforts. Sleeping in 'em would be a right bitch, and you NEED both pilot and co to fly the sucker just the way it's built.

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Aerial Refueling was a concept just starting to be tested out in the mid-70's, so the idea of the Xenonauts having rushed out methods to improve the process for the pre-Shrike transport era is entirely plausible. Still means those pilots are gonna be dead tired because them Chinooks have ZERO creature comforts. Sleeping in 'em would be a right bitch, and you NEED both pilot and co to fly the sucker just the way it's built.
Actually mid-air refueling has been used in combat since the early 1950's. It was used in the Korean War.
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Aerial Refueling was a concept just starting to be tested out in the mid-70's, so the idea of the Xenonauts having rushed out methods to improve the process for the pre-Shrike transport era is entirely plausible. Still means those pilots are gonna be dead tired because them Chinooks have ZERO creature comforts. Sleeping in 'em would be a right bitch, and you NEED both pilot and co to fly the sucker just the way it's built.

Also, what makes you think you need a pilot AND co-pilot to fly a chopper? I know that long range bombers are flown by 1 pilot while the other one sleeps, choppers are much less complicated to fly then a jet aircraft.

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Actually mid-air refueling has been used in combat since the early 1950's. It was used in the Korean War.

Yeah, but that was short-range refueling. Long-range refueling like we have today needed a lot bigger aircraft than we could put out in the 50's. The C-130 was used as a test bed for it, but it just couldn't carry enough fuel for both itself on extended flights as needed and still fuel other aircraft.

Considering the nature of how things are in Xenonauts, either we got a lot of support bases scattered around with the purpose of providing short-range refueling options for Charlies to get along the way, or we have a few long-range refuel aircraft dipping low enough to allow the Charlies to fuel on the go without having to risk ground-effect

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Considering the nature of how things are in Xenonauts, either we got a lot of support bases scattered around with the purpose of providing short-range refueling options for Charlies to get along the way, or we have a few long-range refuel aircraft dipping low enough to allow the Charlies to fuel on the go without having to risk ground-effect

All of which are more complicated, expensive and slower than simply flying there in a regular old plane and taking a local chopper in. I know Xenonauts is supposed to be really just an updated XCOM, but this is really weird and surreal to me. My suspension of disbelief is a little too small for this one.

Besides, if taking a local military transport into the battle was a part of the game mechanic, one could make the Shrike even more useful than just being a bigger, faster dropship. Perhaps early on in the game with conventional vehicles, entering the combat zone is done offscreen and on-foot, meaning Xenonauts arrive in the middle of a road with no dropship to protect them. Once you get the Shrike, they enter the zone in the ship as normal and have some cover to work with. Would need to make new maps for that though.

Oh well, since the dropships appear to be static parts of the map, this lore/gameplay thing could be easily modded-in in the future. Just something to consider.

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Actually I think the system as currently stands is fine.

You can make up any reasons you want for why the Chinook has such long range but the simple fact is that it just has.

It may be using a system of refuelling sites/mid air refuelling to allow it to reach so far or it might have massive but miraculously low weight drop tanks with extra fuel taking up a lot of space (hence the reason for low troop capacity).

The main point is that the Chinook used to have much shorter (you could say more realistic) range but there were so many complaints that it was unrealistic that the Chinook couldn't get to anywhere on the globe and how frustrating it was that there were crash sites too far away to reach that the Chinook had its range extended well beyond what the devs originally intended.

It might have been better to do it another way but it is much too late for that now.

Blame the community, they are the people who pushed for the change :P

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