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Max_Caine

The Second Flying Circus (UFO AC mod)

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Mod Complete!

THIS WORKS WITH: Version 1.0

I've been recently re-enthused with a desire to shake Air Combat out it's pedestrian by-the-numbers environment, through combining loadouts and UFO stats to change up how both cap ships and fightercraft operate. I had previously made a UFO mod (the first Flying Circus). Going back to it while I learnt a lot from it I can see that I was more trying things out for the sake of trying them out and pandering to my personal predjudices (like a 4-missile Foxtrot). This second Flying Circus' goal is to make Air Combat a challenging environment where skill is an improveable asset and a lack of skill doesn't automatically mean "FAIL". I'm going to be looking at all the UFOs, and I'm going to try and model them as closely as possible to the "eras" in which they fall.

Here's the link to the mod: 2nd Flying Circus if you're interested. That link should stay constant - each time I update the mod, it will replace exactly the same files.

So, where to begin...

The Fighter

Having read a lot of comments about the fighter, we all know how much of a pushover it is. Seriously, for an alien interceptor, it's really easy and quite yawnsome to take down. It's primary weapon is its two missiles, which are quite nasty if they connect - each one does 100pts of damage, so if they hit, the first would hurt, the second would kill. However, the missiles travel very slowly and are very easy to dodge, so I improved the speed and tracking of the fighter's missiles. It's still quite possible to dodge them (as you will see), but it requires a better sense of timing. I've also increased the range on the alien's gun and at the suggestion of a poster whose name escapes me, I boosted the radius on it.

So, in total:

Missile

Speed: 12000 (x2)

Tracking: 110 (x5) (!)

Gun

Range: 3000 (+500)

Radius: 22 (+4)

Here's some videos of the alien UFO in action. First one with the standard Corsair:

[video=youtube;R00Wk4qOvSk]

You can see how the missiles have a strong curve. IF you come straight at the fighter, they can't curve enough to hit you. If you come at an angle, they will hit you.

Edited by Max_Caine

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Alenium Condor

This video shows you what happens if you mess up the timing

[video=youtube;Fg6pd5woxBE]

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3 Fighters

Ah... the 0% chance of victory. Well, this is the best I've ever got with a Condor and these new fighters. If you can do better, then please tell me!

[video=youtube;z_DtInQfrUc]

The Condor can take out 1, and almost take out 2, but every time I get zapped.

EDIT: Just for funsies I tried out a Corsair verses three fighters. The Corsair was over them like a rash. It was a slaughter.

Edited by Max_Caine

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Have you done/will you be doing anything with the heavy fighter, or other UFOs? Either way, I'm installing the hell out of this when I get home.

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Thank you! Although it'd be best if some of your air combat balance suggestions are incorporated into actual game, I am glad to know it'll be available as option no matter what.

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Mortuus, funny you should mention that. I made a rather long thread imploring Chris to re-jig the Heavy Fighter and those changes are in this mod. I haven't re-done any other yet mostly because it takes hours... days of just fighting, tweaking, re-fighting, tweaking, re-re-fighting, junking and starting again.... well, it take a long while to meet the mission goal "challenging experience" rather than "bit different", "lame" or even "OP broken".

EDIT: Uh, but yes, I will be doing all the UFOs.

Edited by Max_Caine

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Just fiddling about with different ideas for the Corvette, because when you fight it with just Condors you have to have #someskill, but when Foxtrots turn up it's #noskill. Then I found this:

[video=youtube;BifwN7feXBU]

Yes! I thought PD weapons had been removed, but it seems they haven't! Joy! Yay! I'm still working out how best to implement it, but if fighting with Foxtrots became a game of cat and mouse, that would be a lot more interesting than point n' shoot.

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I'm really looking forward to seeing the outcome of all of this. I wasn't especially convinced there was a lot of room for player skill in the air game, but the stuff you've done with Heavy Fighters has made me rethink that a lot.

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We've all done AC, to a larger or smaller degree so if anyone wants to share their experiences it's all good feedback, as I'm working off what I read in the forums and my own experiences and my fevered imagination which screams "New! New! NEW!!" The only thing I'll say is that this mod will only look at ufos - let the devs or someone else like SoloA see to the interceptors.

I wish I was as good as people like Dranak, because what I think is #trueskill is probably #noobtube for the high-grade AC players.

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Just a small update. Since yesterday, I've been experimenting with how to best implement a PD turret on a cap ship and I'm going for the #skillshot. What I'm hoping to do is to blend both weapon arc and turning speed of the corvette in just the right proportions so if you fly straight at the UFO your missiles will always be shot down, but if you lead it in one direction you can spin back and edge a couple of torpedoes just past the leading edge of the PD turret. At the moment the most reliable stategy is to to just kite a corvette, but that isn't satisfying - the real challenge would be to trick the corvette so it gets a pair of missiles right up its nose. This is a tricky business, and I haven't quite got it yet.

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I love the concept and the progress Max, your analisys is completly logic and brings new tactical elements to a simple ari combat system.

Im not a huge fan of the ari combat mini game, I want to know how much impact this mod on autoresolve.

Thabks to you I'll begin my incursion in aircombat mechanics.

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Alien UFO weapons have an autoresolve value of zero, so altering alien weapons should have zero impact on the autoresolve roll, unlike human aircraft weapons. Theoretically you can stack as many as you like on a UFO.

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Alien UFO weapons have an autoresolve value of zero, so altering alien weapons should have zero impact on the autoresolve roll, unlike human aircraft weapons. Theoretically you can stack as many as you like on a UFO.

Thanks! I'll try ;)

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First off, air combat with Corvettes is SUPER BORING. Painfully slow speed with almost braindead turning speed make Air Combat with a vanilla Corvette painful to play, especially when you're like me and have fought 100 figgen corvettes in the search for the elusive #skillshot. So I've had enough of that, and I've cranked up the turning speed of the Corvette to something more challenging. You'll still get a lot of fights like this:

[video=youtube;DekRi3wkM5Q]

But at least the Corvette is sort-of turning to face where you were you instead of crawling from 6 to 4 o'clock and getting it's backside rammed full of torpedeo. Anyway, I said I had figured it out, and I have!

Edited by Max_Caine

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Okay, first of all you need to see the PD turret in action. So here's some footage:

[video=youtube;eftaj-Z5pWg]

As you can see, it's possible to flood the PD turret - it can take out 3 missiles, but not 4. It will always take out the payload of at least one Foxtrot, so kiting it a real possibility if you have 3. But if you have 2, and the Corvette manages to swing around? Well, that's another matter.

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The skillshot is quite difficult to do and it's easy to mess up the timing. The idea is to fire your torpedoes while on full afterburn and swing your Foxtrot around at the same time. If you travel at max speed, the Corvette will respond with a longer lead, and you can fire your torpedoes at any point in your aim arc. Like so:

[video=youtube;EJ7YpOVfjwk]

This works a little differently with Condors, so I'll put up some videos when I get a moment, as well as a full melee. I haven't updated the mod yet, as I want to make sure I've got everyting right. I'll put up an announcement when the mod is updated.

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Had a random thought earlier about this mod.

Given that you're designing the UFOs around skill-based knacks required to defeat UFOs effectively, a concern that I'd have is that it might be difficult to work out what the knack is. On the one hand, that's fine, since it's more or less the intent of the mod. Moreover, I doubt there'll be many instances that you can't 'brute force' using several aircraft at the same time, even if there's in principle a more efficient solution if you have the requisite skill and approach. On the other hand, if it takes a lot of grinding (and possibly save-scumming) to find the trick, it feels like it would defeat the point of the mod a little since all its required is that the player spend some time messing around before actually playing the game through proper.

What I wanted to suggest, then, is adding in some hints into the Xenopedia entries about the weaknesses of the various UFOs or the kinds of approach that might work. Not a step-by-step guide, but just something such that the player isn't entirely guessing about what approach might work best. Since you need to down a UFO to be able to get the information (Landed UFOs excluded), the player will already have had at least one shot at it and been able to either finesse or brute force the outcome. But if nothing else it might help them perfect their approach and do better in the future.

In other words, I guess for me this mod would be ideal if a player could install it knowing basically nothing about it, and over the course of a game or two move from not-really-knowing-what-they're-doing to actually-pretty-good without having to grind or having to watch spoiler videos. It feels to me that this would be quite rewarding, and create a sense of the player's in-game pilots developing skill and expertise against the aliens as the game goes on.

(I'm making this suggestion also because of your previous work on Xenopedia stuff, so a) it might integrate well and b) I assume its something you enjoy doing!)

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I have just come to the horrible, horrible conclusion that I'm making this mod around gimmicks. I was hoping that I was making the mod to promote and reward skill, but, well.... am I? Really? Right now, I wonder if I am. Perhaps I should rethink the whole mod.

EDIT: Okay, new idea. Stop trying to make specific kinds of things. Instead set up more general parameters and say "have at it".

Edited by Max_Caine

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I have just come to the horrible, horrible conclusion that I'm making this mod around gimmicks. I was hoping that I was making the mod to promote and reward skill, but, well.... am I? Really? Right now, I wonder if I am. Perhaps I should rethink the whole mod.

EDIT: Okay, new idea. Stop trying to make specific kinds of things. Instead set up more general parameters and say "have at it".

I dunno. The other way you can look at it is that you're ensuring there's a way to win, though that doesn't necessarily preclude other strategies from emerging as well.

That aside, another thought: I know you've said that you're not looking to modify player aircraft too, but I wonder whether there's not something relatively minor you could do which would require more player involvement and skill simply by multiplying the number of shots player aircraft have, while reducing their damage in the same proportion.

E.g. if you increased the number of missile slots to 4 per slot, but divide the current damage of missiles by 4, you end up with the same amount of damage but having to inflict that damage over a longer period of time. That makes things like agility and attacking from outside of the UFO's firing arcs more important, because you're taking much long to deal the same amount of damage.

It would also help balance point-defences a little bit, because if you mis-time or screw up, you don't necessarily lose your entire plane's worth of ammunition in one go.

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I dunno. The other way you can look at it is that you're ensuring there's a way to win, though that doesn't necessarily preclude other strategies from emerging as well.

I agree with Kabill. I see lot of limit factors modding aircraft as well.

I have an idea, the problem IMHO of the Aircombat mechanics is that game not fit really well to the real Aircraft Dog fight. The planes looks clumsy, the slow movement makes the system very limited to human and alien aircrafts. The concept that I propose is the next one:

- Try to increase turning and general speed of aircraft, to make possible manual evasion.

- As kabill says increase ammo of aircrafts and reduce his damage a bit, not exactly by the amount of the real missiles because is illogical that an aircraft resist a missile impact, otherwise than larger UFO and battleships.

- Makes each aircraft unique, EX: Maybe the Light Alien Fighter moves quickly, attack quickly but they has little amount of missiles and resilience.

In other words, make the aircombat takes more time but let the player experiment or feel more freedom taking decisions.

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Hey all. I've been currently blazing through Experimental 9 to give some proper feedback on it and seeing as I'm playing through it I thought I'd keep up adjusting and changing UFOs as that has the least impact on the Ex9 update. Firstly, the Corvette you've seen in the previous videos has been properly implemented. The primary change is a fixed-forward PD turret that will shoot down missiles. The main gun has had an increase in range and an increase in projectile speed. The turning speed of the Corvette has been increased so it's not so easy to sneak up on it. Now, onto the landing ship.

[video=youtube;88Yb-H5q5y4]

The theme of the Landing ship is "threat projection/fire support". The weapons have been stripped out and replaced with a port and starboard gun battery which, as you can see, is quite nasty. Taking on an unescorted Landing ship isn't that hard once you work out how to get past the batteries (unfortunately, the UFO can't independantly target interceptors - the batteries will all fire on one target at a time). The Landing ship really comes into it's own in a melee.

Edited by Max_Caine

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[video=youtube;X8tlujNpf3M]

With its long range, the Landing ship is good at providing supporting fire for escorts. Even if you have a lock and launched torpedoes, it will continue support escorts for a while until the torpedoes hit.

Edited by Max_Caine

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The Cruiser is a Corvette+. Twin, long-ranged plasma cannons, a wider, fixed-forward PD turret and a faster-firing anti-fighter blaster. Basically, everything that the Corvette does but better.

[video=youtube;G5QFYpEDFks]

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..as a side result, Max_Caine became one of the most proficient AC players.

This could lead to slightly more difficult mod, but as you're advancing from lights to heavies, it's allright.

Edited by a333

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