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#1 Spatula

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Posted 07 June 2003 - 02:29 AM

The biggest problem I had with XCom was after a certain point, the same strategy can be used to just steamroll the aliens. Sure, it's fun to finally be able to obliterate those ethereal bastards with your blasterboming/flying/heavy plasma wielding psionic death squad the first couple times, but after that it just isn't really fun anymore. I found myself trying to avoid recovering crashed UFOs as it just became too tedious, without any reward.

One way I thought to deal with this is have some more varied mission designs.

While there was nothing wrong with the first one, really, I think it would be neat to have more mission types. here are just some random ideas.

A mission where you can't kill anybody, you can only stun, maybe these particular aliens have a hive mind and if one dies, they all die, and you need them alive. At least you can't hide in the ship for this.

An alien base that has something that negates PSI (I think mentioned already) or can only use terrestrial devices (anti-elerium) - to cut you back down to size

(Geoscape): An escort mission: A slow moving plane takes off from one country going to another, carrying something important, and aliens send a crapload of ufos at it, and you have to shoot them down before they can get to it. Of course, you'll need a one-day warning to prep your fleet.

Covert ops missions: Where you can only sneak like 4 soldiers in. These could be really neat, and keep the game atmosphere really tense and scary. Some ideas below:
Abduction: Someone mentioned assauling an alien base only to get the commander, it'd be neat if you could only use like 4 soldiers. Perhaps a two part mission, one with a full assault on the surface to fight to the lift, but only a small team can be inserted. Plus, there'd be new aliens that spawned every turn or every time that you kill one, so you could buy time by killing aliens but never win, so you always had to be pressing on, capture the commander, and then get the heck out. This would emphasize the atmosphere of X-Com, in which you only have limited resources and are trying to fight seemingly insurmountable odds.

Aerial capture: Let's say there's a UFO, scarier than a battleship, that's so well armed it's impossible to shoot down and doesn't land. After researching a certain tech, maybe you could slip a few soldiers into the UFO while it's in the air, and then attempt to take control of it and fly it back to base, the only way to get it and some resultant technology. You'd have to escort some non-combatant scientists to the control room, and if they were killed you lose the mission.
Perhaps this is the way to get the hyperwave decoder, as the aliens always destroy the comms equipment whenever a UFO crashes like the Germans would destroy the enigma encryption machines in WWII subs.

Rescue POWS

Ruins/alien lab: Let's say there's a permanent alien facility somewhere, like easter island or the north pole (or area 51) that's there when you start like an alien base, but it's not detected. So as soon as you detect it, you can go there any time.... only, this is guarded by some seriously terrifying enemies you won't meet anywhere else. You leave the ship and you're expecting some ethereals with heavy plasma, but instead you're face to face with a hulking monstrosity, 2x2 and 2 squares tall. A cyberdisk on crack. He's immune to PSI, with armor so thick terrestrial weapons will barely scratch him. He should have an enourmous life supply, so that you've got to have almost a full squad to take one down. And that's just the first one.
Why would you want to suicide assault? Well, capturing the lab is the only way to get some technology in the game. I was thinking the blaster launcher could only be gotten from something like this.
You don't need to take the alien ruins/lab to complete the game, so it wouldn't alienate struggling players, but it could provide an extra challenge with incentive for experienced people who think their squad can take a whole muton battleship within 2 turns.

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#2 Deimos

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Posted 07 June 2003 - 06:02 PM

There are some very interesting ideas here, though I'm not sure about uberbosses, they remind me way too much of early gaming like nintendo where every 'level' had it's end of level boss. It got tedious after about the third game :)

Yes escort missions could be fun. After the first few months any of your base transfers could need escorting.

I like the covert ops idea but come on, continous enemy spawning? Eww, lets throw realism out the window :) The biggest draw for me to xcom was that there were finite numbers of the enemy and no respawning.

I dig the POW idea, especially later on in the game. Maybe place a random extra tough mission that though winnable is hard as nails and the enemy has small launchers and isn't afraid to use them. Once the player's troopers are all unconcious, the player loses as normal. Maybe a couple of days later a message could be displayed on the geoscape showing the location of this POW camp/base and it's up to the player to go get his operatives.

The ruins/alien lab is a similar idea to the one I had a while ago but mine was to capture the Earth alien commander. Instead of what you suggest which sounds like FF type bosses, there are squads of the top gun, the best of the best, the uber elite aliens from each race defending the base. Choke points, bad lighting and every tactical play us designers can think of thrown at the player. If the player fails to get the alien commander he'll blow the base killing everyone inside. That way the player has to stun the commander and can't go in lock and loaded with blaster bombs. This is one base where the random floor plans could be used to the maximum effect, in that each game is different.

I don't like the idea of single 'bosses' with huge stats as the easiest defence would be to send an Avenger full of blaster launcher equipped troops and bomb it to the stoneage.

With sqauds of enemy troops they will have the advantage of being able to do exactly the same as the player can and will have the advantage that they know the base layout and will set up cross fields of fire, flanking maneuvers, pincer attacks and so on. Oh did I mention that they'd be in squads loaded up with Heavy plasma's and AG's and their support weapons would be blaster launchers? The terror units would be unleased as a means of soaking up the players fire whilst the alien squads got into postition. Does that sound tough enough? Don't forget that each time you load the game the base and tactics would be different.

I guess I don't need to say that this wouldn't be included in V1.0 :)

#3 mikker

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Posted 08 June 2003 - 06:50 AM

hehe. About bosses, there could be, like 4-5 bosses in the game, depending on when you go to the mars base. those would mostly be at base attacks, terror sites, and very big ufo crashes/landings. You do not get a warning (perhaps a civilian reports seing a giga alien, and the report gets to you when you see him), so you would be very afraid of when the big guy shows up. Health? It should be able to take at least 15 heavy plasma shots.

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#4 Guest_Jim69_*

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Posted 08 June 2003 - 09:34 AM

Maybe the boss thing could be incorparated. As I remember, each race has a different type or rank, like soldier, medic, commander etc. Well, maybe the commander could have bodyguards, that are the toughest in the game, and they need to be taken out b4 u can get to the commander. Would make sense, if I was a Commander in enemy territory i'd want the best of the best guarding me too.

#5 Deimos

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Posted 08 June 2003 - 02:34 PM

I'd agree with that Jim. Looking at any real armed force the Colonel doesn't have extra strength or extra hits, he has an entorurage that are highly trained. The idea of 'Bosses' with huge amounts of hit points is so cheesy I can smell it from here :) It just smacks of early nintendo and sega games. We've got our tough soldiers (mutons) so any commander would be accompanied by 4 elite muton soldiers.

It all comes down to believability stakes again. Seeing as we're trying to base the game somewhat in reality I really don't see how Genova type Ultimate bosses would work. My brain would just scream CHEEEEESEEEE! :puke: :devillaugh:

#6 stoopher

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Posted 08 June 2003 - 04:48 PM

I could not agree more. big bosses are out. It's boring. It says the game designers lacked imagination. Like in duhe nuke 'em or any of the (rightly mentioned) early consoles. We are a different class of gamer.

If we need big bad guys or aliens with VIP status then a squad, of "elite body gaurds" would be better. this opens it up to the strategy again... ...distract the body gaurds and draw them away.

I think the later missions in the original were very dull. you could just get the aliens to blow each other up all the time. it was dull, control them and then shoot each other, using psionics. I think it would be better to make this a point where the aliens try to politically turn the people against you.

I would like to see a really clever diplomacy engine. I have some ideas. The apoc one was poo, like civ diplomacy/politics engine, everyone has a varying scale of favour with you, this is just wrong. This may represent reality sort of, well, correctly but you can see the meat of the game engine showing through with this kind of inter face. it would be much better to disguise this (it may still have to be used at all) with an event driven mechanism. The files on the events could be stored in a UFOpeadia history file. this way, to find where we stand the organization/agency x we look at our records not some "favour bar". In reality what government or embassy have "sliding bars of favour" to represent diplomatic positions?

For example: We fund government/corporate lab's project Y (cos we want their results to build our tech tree). This builds positive relationship with the lab. corporate lab, don't give us all the result we were looking for, so instead of putting pressure on them we fund the for a second project. Knowing we're good for it, they give us the extra stuff we really wanted on the first project. Aliens infiltrate lab, not to our (or their collective) knowledge. We are fed poo, so are they, the relationship turns sour. we want to keep our goal covert so we can't expose the aliens or they'll expose us, (there is a power you loose without anonymity). Then future relationships with earthly agencies don't go ahead without our infiltration to know what is really happening and who is lying. We infiltrate our frineds. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Everyone is our enemy. (Could we be infiltrated? hmm juicy bit of fear in there too!) This works until the aliens geuss our game and swoop on our infiltrant one night. Our agent then works for them we think he works for us. When we find out it could be that to much damage has been done. So we then secondarily infiltrate our 'friends' to know the truth. The beans are spilt. So you could (distract) buy the laboratory's favour while the aliens 'agent' has a bad 'accident'. And you've bought them back and got them on your side. But did you really buy them back or did the aliens stage this for you? Who can you trust, who is giving you real information? The agent mulders' "trust no one" comes out here. great game play, juicy ain't it?!?

This would require some form of presenting statements, and information to the gamer. Mock up newspaper cuttings (engine for this is easy), statements, announcements, possibly 'taped' CNN archives (I have some Ideas for in-game generation (and keeping it memory small) which would make the whole game repeatedly playable, as each time (the game is played), at this later stage in the game the "who can you trust" follows a different path). More than one way of prooving the information we give to the gamer. Not sure how.

Another interesting one would be the potential, propaganda war we might fight with the aliens. We need earth organisations to exist, we buy food and water and we buy production materials, (secretly through various agencies of course (that puts cost to us up a bit - anonymity costs!)) so we need there to be order not anarchy amoungst the populace. The aliens know this. They can also infiltrate nations' governing bodies and set peopl to war against one another. they can mind control people into mass terrorism, and set superpowers against one another. This will leave us without any supporting bodies that are regulated enough for us to diplomatically function with or depend on. the aliens know this. Part of the reason behind staying covert is the ability to avert disasters like this, we could shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles. We could infiltrate the aliens to see how they are planning to damage earth's international politics next, and wheretehy have infiltrated other governments.

This opens up the covert mission to secretly break into an embassy and takeout/capture a human under serious mind control or an alien carrying a holographic projector to make him/her/it/thing look human. Or break into a newspaper head quarters at night to change or 'correct' some info that is about to go international. We you have technolgy coming out of your ears, you then have to think of really clever things to do with it, not just blow the crap out of anything alien.

Edited by RustedSoul, 29 August 2004 - 08:30 PM.


#7 GreatGold

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Posted 08 June 2003 - 06:09 PM

Hey -

I just want to say, I do really lke the idea of implementing a politics and covert ops AI at some point. It would add a huge element to the game, and as long as it did not takover the main pruporse (of saving the Earth by neutralizing the alien scum) I'm all for it.

But we cant't get ahead of ourselves. What I propose is that someone collect all these great ideas, there is a large thread concerning air missions around here as well as someothers, and make sure they are documented. Then, when versions 2.xxx comes around, we'll be ready...

Gold
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#8 Spatula

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Posted 08 June 2003 - 11:52 PM

On the covert ops respawning: The important part was I was trying to think of something which would make the gamer have to change tactics. If this were the original XCom, even if you had the 4-soldier restriction, it wouldn't really matter if there were 10 or 100 aliens because the same strategy would always work, just mind control, mind control, mind control and then maybe blaster bomb if you felt like it. I would want the gamer to realize 'ok, slowly advancing until I find an alien, safely dealing with him, and then spreading out until I kill everyone won't work' and so instead you have to rush pell-mell towards your objective, gunning the whole way, and rushing out. Something you'd never ordinarily do, but tense circumstances force you to do so.

Respawning is what I came up with, but I'm not stuck on it at all. I agree it's not realistic. I just wanted some way to force the gamer to get out of the rut they may have been in.

Likewise with the uber-aliens. I agree cartoony-style console boxes wouldn't fit in here very well, but I do think the game could benefit from something much tougher than just an average joe, especially if it is unexpected. I say killer robots, stoopher says elite bodyguards.
What I want the gamer to have is an 'oh crap' moment. When they come up upon a critter they've never seen with his back turned, and they shoot it, and he just takes it and spins around and reaction fires the soldier to death. Gamer thinks, 'no biggie its just bad luck' and sends in the soldier's buddy for some revenge, and the critter takes a triple plasma burst to the chest and calmly decapitates the soldier. The gamer realizes 'oh crap, this is something I have to deal with' and change tactics accordingly.

On stoopher's politics AI: that sounds more like a novel I'd really like to read :D I guess my problem with it is that in the system you describe there would be too many elements not under control of the gamer. When stuff goes wrong, I want it to go wrong because of some error I made, and I want to know exactly what that error is. I guess I could just see it being really tedious, and not affecting the rest of the game enough that I'd want to devote a lot of time to it. Like anything though, if it is well thought-out and balanced it could probably add a lot of atmosphere to the game.

#9 Deimos

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 12:14 AM

What I want the gamer to have is an 'oh crap' moment. When they come up upon a critter they've never seen with his back turned, and they shoot it, and he just takes it and spins around and reaction fires the soldier to death. Gamer thinks, 'no biggie its just bad luck' and sends in the soldier's buddy for some revenge, and the critter takes a triple plasma burst to the chest and calmly decapitates the soldier. The gamer realizes 'oh crap, this is something I have to deal with' and change tactics accordingly.

An 'oh crap moment' Hmm that's an easy one. Land skyranger on a terror mission. Exit first trooper, he turns to see the environment and spots 4 cyberdiscs camped outside the exit ramp. That is always an 'Oh crap' moment for me. :D Likewise if it's a squad of Muton camping outside the exit ramp all reaction firing when the player so much as farts. But the biggest problem there is reloading the game. Most people faced with this kind of situation are too scared to face it so they reload out of it.

Cyberdiscs and mutons do that 'oh it was you that shot me, well allow me to return the favour MF' :)
So if you came across a cohesive squad of these guys that fight as a team the player would deinitely have what I call a 'penny sixpence moment' more commonly known as a 'sphincter clencher'.

#10 GreatGold

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 12:59 AM

If this were the original XCom, even if you had the 4-soldier restriction, it wouldn't really matter if there were 10 or 100 aliens because the same strategy would always work, just mind control, mind control, mind control and then maybe blaster bomb if you felt like it


Hey -

You're right about this problem. However, I don't think we'll be seeing much of that post v1.0, because of a number of new Psi related concepts we are looking into. I think almost everyone agrees that "as-is", the Psi component of X-Com is way too effective and unbalances the game. We are working on it.

Secondly, I think Deimos hits it on the head. With the improved combat AI being planned, I think it will be much more difficult to take out the mechanised alien units. Already they are like tanks...soon they will be intelligent tanks that work in packs with killler efficiency. That should provide a number of interesting "Oh Crap" moments. Imagine, you come around a corner and unload into a Sectopod...not scary at all...but then you realize...DAMN, where are the other three I CANT SEE?! After all, its what you dont see that kills you...

In all, I think a number of improvements already planned will have the effects your thinking of.

Gold

ps - I also think there should be a more random distrubution of aliens on missions, though. Perhaps a min/max number with a random number generator determinng how many.
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#11 revenant4

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 09:20 AM

Personally I believe there should be some aliens that can not be affected by the Psi...for instance you could say the HoverCraft alien thingy's, one might think there armor blocks any kind of Psi emmitions from humans and the aliens get around this by keeping a tracking device in the w/ a direct communications to it...just a thought

#12 stoopher

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 11:51 AM

Yeah, I have though about the diplomacy engine, and I have a loose engine forming, (in my mind as yet) - (please don't ask me to spec it in LISP!) I htink that would open up the game to atypical xcom gamers. Also the game style would change when you get good at donkey kicking later on.

I also thought it would be good to see the other gov. labs on earth develop tech we know about but also fantastic ways of using it. We could buy/import/trade this tech (get it in). And in order to dio this you need the diplomacy engine. Some gamers really got into the mini management. I did. I eventually got bored of the assualt missions. I think a politics/diplomacy feature (which sort of was there in the original) will have to be awesome and unprecendentedly good in order to do rights to the xcom name. But as with the first game, a good game is not about what you (programmer) do but about what you don't do i.e. what you allude to. Knowing that, I thik our goals are much more attainable.

#13 Maverick

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 11:56 AM

I wanted to clarify a few things so that people don't believe the computer AI will actually be sitting at the table next to them. The AI is basically going to have a set of things it can do, and its favorite thing to do is going to be using the same strategy that everyone and their grandma as a player uses (scout/sniper w/ mind control).

In the original game what made it so easy is that Aliens were marked F on the map, soldiers were marked E on the map. The AI was a pathfinding algorithm that said "F move to point x" If E comes in range of F, F attacks. That's all there was to it. And it was pretty impressive at higher difficulty levels. Each alien unit was working independently of all the others.

Our main AI guy likes a challenge, I'm afraid that as the design stands we're gonna need to dumb up the v1 AI so that its playable....when I say he likes a challenge, I mean it too....

So, to recap: The AI is gonna be doing the same thing you're doing, and they'll be doing it much sooner in the game. The difference between difficulty levels could be anything from dumbing the AI to giving more money and troops to increasing/decreasing stats. The AI won't be able to cook you breakfast or walk the dog, in fact, it won't be capable of DOING much at all, it will just be very good at what it can do. Which means they should coordinate fairly well.

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 05:54 PM

We need to think about the alien side as though it were fully playable by anouther person. We have to think up logically what their overall plan is and how they will execute it. This should make designing alien missions easier.

#15 noabbitnofun

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Posted 18 April 2004 - 06:17 AM

Just to add to the conversation...
This is my point of view. The suggestions below may be far from your thoughts, so just comment on! ;)

DIPLOMACY
I really think diplomacy is a need. Not to change the game from a "dark alien hunt" game into a "lots of text and where is the info I need" game. So we need just something more elaborate, as was said before.

I really think we need to get the nations bigger than a simple "I pay you that much and actually I think this of you and that of the aliens". So for instance...
- I like the idea already mentionned about nations research. Don't you?
- I think we could get aware of elections in big (democratic) countries (or be warned of the premises of a government military takeover). This way the player could investigate whether the candidates are "standard humans", "humans sponsored by an XCOM cmpany" (in multi-player) or aliens disguised. (Sounds like a set of missions could be requirement to get this intelligence.) Then the XCOM could try to influence back to prevent the election / takeover of the Alien candidates. And if it fails bam! Big harder mission to knock the guy out (there were posts on this kind of elements in previous threads).

I think Nations definitely need to be in alos as you already included in the feature list (as mission'ed people at crash sites). This should also go with "civilians" spotting XCOM bases and telling their government... which can tell the Aliens.

ALIEN MISSIONS RELATED TO DIPLOMACY
- Definitely we mentionned here about human missions. Not Alien missions. What about them? Don't you think that we could have a few Aliens missions to get influence in a country (whether political infiltration or actual military power)?


BASE SPOTTING
Regarding the AI, has anyone made suggestions regarding the fact that the Aliens acted strangely (IMHO) in XCOM1: when they spotted your base, they attacked once. Then wooops - they forgot about your base location. But indeed inreal life they would not - they would just send craft after craft to burn you down.
I think it would help get into the game to have this too (and help make the player feel uncomfortable). We could allow to move base elements by dismantling them and convoying them out to another base - in a sloooooow manner so that aliens still get a huge chance of kicking you hard before you leave. And of course facilities that are not available do not defend your base anymore. :-)
I would like to add - if not already taken into acocunt - that camouflage technologies & buildings could be usefull here. Plus you would get to place them on the base "ground" level. What about a few things to try to keep civilians out?

This is too long a post already, so I pause here.

Hello there - it is your turn! ;)

Yan

#16 Robo Dojo 58

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Posted 18 April 2004 - 08:17 AM

For the alien Diplomacy thing: So, you pretty much would like to see more elaborate infiltration missions.

Base spotting: The aliens should not be sending a battleship every day to your bases. They have limited resources, so they can't be spam-invading your bases. It's annoying for the player, as well. I'm neutral on relocating bases- if you want to do that, just build a new base and use the transfer screen. Or use base defenses.
Posted Image Haha! I'm now the Supreme Commander of X-COM. Time to kiss Earth goodbye.

My first order of business: Homeless people make cheap rookies, and are great at opening UFO doors. Heck, they're so cheap, I'm going to replace all personel with them!
Secondly: This organisation takes too much money to run. Weapon shipments will come from Siberia from now on. Costly maintenance is to be cut on all facilities. That includes venting.
Thirdly: We have a new colonel. His name is Facehugger, he loves aliens, and I want you all to treat him with respect.
Lastly: I'll be in my condo on an undisclosed island, if you need me. Good day.

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#17 Extralucas

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Posted 18 April 2004 - 08:53 AM

For the alien Diplomacy thing: So, you pretty much would like to see more elaborate infiltration missions.

Base spotting: The aliens should not be sending a battleship every day to your bases. They have limited resources, so they can't be spam-invading your bases. It's annoying for the player, as well. I'm neutral on relocating bases- if you want to do that, just build a new base and use the transfer screen. Or use base defenses.

Camouflage - base is already few meteres underground and aliens look for brainwaves traces to locate bases, that's why you need mindshield.

AFAIK in X-Com1 they were spamming you with battleships if they couldn't enter your base. But when they can drag fight to tactical screen and perish, they forget about your base. Pretty good idea I think. You can either hide behind your defence systems and be spammed by Battleships or face 'em, and get rid of 'em.

Moving bases - they are underground, aren't they? Are you going to dig it all up, cut in pieces, attach to transport ships and burry somewhere else? :wink:

Camouflage - base is already burried few meters underground. Less possible civies can locate it, and you can't camouflage taking off [Skyrangers]. Aliens track brain waves to locate your bases, and that's why you need mind shields.

Edited by Extralucas, 18 April 2004 - 08:55 AM.

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