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#1 crazy_higer

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 08:35 AM

What have always been pissing me off in both versions of X-Com, is that the interception combat windows were so... how should I put it?.. BORING. :zzzzz:

Out of the many, many things that could spice it a little, I thought it'd be nice to have some short, 1-2 sec tops, cutscenes played at the bottom/side of the combat window, linked to what's happening in the combat at every moment of time. The idea was originally (I think) implemented in a long-forgotten "Reunion", and I think there was something similar in "UFO: Aftermath", although I can't vouch for that.

#2 UnFleshed One

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 10:21 PM

Cutscenes are amusing only just so longer than their absence. After tenth battle you won't pay attention (well after 100th for sure).

I'd rather have more control over combat. Only problem is that I don't know what can be done in that direction that won't end up short from full scale fly simulator... How about turn based dogfight simulator :D
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#3 crazy_higer

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 11:47 PM

How about turn based dogfight simulator :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I'd love to see that :) A limited battlefield 4-Z-levels turn base fligh simulaor... LOL.

Actually, I as thinking more in the direction of the 2D vertical scroll flight action games - could be something like that. I mean, mouse got 2 main buttons - interceptors usually have 2 weapons - you can go sideways, inc/dec speed, UFO can manuver and all. I think it'd be actually nicer than the moldy old 3 levels of "agression" that kinda turns the whole air combat into a click-and-go-get-some-coffe thing.

Although, now when I think of it, it's kinda a problem when attacking with more than one interceptor... unless in that case you control the entire wing of interceptors in the same manner.

Good point on the cutscenes though.

#4 NKF

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 02:16 AM

I think it's really a matter of defining levels of abstraction. The air-combat, while important in its own right, was very abstract compared to the ground battles, and I think the game stressed more on the ground battles anyway. Short of making up an entire mini-game or a simplified flight simulator or even a sidescroller, it's best to keep air combat simple.

Now, on the other side of the fence, I too wish there was more control over air combat. I mean, there needs to be more you can do than just have each side roll a dice at various intervals depending on the weapon reload time and depending on the range until one or the other bites the dust.

So I guess I'm a bit on the fence here. I like simple, but comprehensive at the same time. A turn based air-combat system may just work, come to think of it. It would be a bit like ground combat - but with ships. ;) Imagine streaking two or three interceptors through skyscrapers or flying low through trees, or even flying through an alien capital ship to strike a hit on a vulnerable spot -- all in turn based.

In a way, if you abstract the battlescape enough (not the real battlescape - the battlescape that comes before the real version), you could even make it a way of determining which sector to land your troop transport in - with clear areas that mark the combat zone. Then when you actually enter the battle, the real battlescape loads and generates the proper map. There's a lot you could do in the pre-battle planning phase too, such as setting up supply lines or placement of backup troops or a second landing party to enter from a different direction.

Yeah, I know, I'm already going off on a tangent, but I'm just trying to think of a way to expand the idea to cover a whole lot of other ideas that have been tossed around.

- NKF

Edit: Blast, the idea's got my mouth watering - must try and flesh it out a bit before it leaves my mind completely.

Defining levels of abstraction. We could have the globe, where everything happens, plus a few zoom and detail levels. Nothing too fancy. Just the same old Geoscape from the originals.

Where a battle occurs as one waypoint on the globe, we can expand that into a huge (but simplified to minimise memory usage) battle area depicting the surrounding area of the battle. Only a small portion of it is used, of course, so that your ship-to-ship battle can happen, and if the UFO runs away, you can chase after it through the whole extent of the map almost seamlessly without having to load each sector - once the UFO runs off the very edge of this map, it'll have run away and you'll need to chase after it again in the globe. Once you disengage in this way, the map is discarded - basically a new map is generated at each waypoint if you have a need to go in and investigate or to engage an aerial opponent or if you have ground forces in the area - some maps should remain constant, like the area around your bases and other prominent earth-based locations. You should be able to see simplified buildings, land formations and what have you. This mode would be ideal for the waypoint patrol idea mentioned in the other thread, or as a means to manually conduct a patrol yourself. The initial phase of base attacks or assaults could be conducted from here as well. (Actually, as a means for placing gun-placements for the top-side portion of the base and hiding anti-air turrets/vehicles and taking into account terrain formations when deciding fields of fire/vision - it's brilliant!)

Actual air combat here would be fun, and your ship movement would vary depending on your propulsion type. Jets would have to fly in a circle in order to move where you want to move it to, and depending on the speed, the wider the turn. No - no, you just point it where to go, and the game'll do it for you. Helicopters, for example, wouldn't have to worry about this too much as they'll be able to do a 360 on the spot. Ships with VTOL capabilities could hover, but ships without this would keep moving in the direction they're facing.

To make it even more interesting, imagine bullets and rockets having time units of their own, so if they run out of TUs before they reach their target, they'll just hang in mid-air until their TUs are replenished. Now that I've just said that, I also realise how silly it would be to be able to move a ship past its own rockets... but we can work out the finer details later, can't we? I mean, imagine the Matrixey possibilities without the slo-motion. And manual dodging rather than relying on reactions to do the dodging for us. :)

Then the final zoom level will be the battlescape itself where we come to blows with the alien crews up close - the main part of the game.

Again, I know I'm being very general - but that's how brilliant (well, it's brilliant in my mind) ideas often develop.

Edited by NKF, 07 August 2005 - 03:17 AM.

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#5 crazy_higer

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 03:42 AM

Like the sound of that I do.

Just add the weather effects into this, and you'll be in danger of drowning in your own drool :)
I know, cuz I almost did myself.
=b

#6 UnFleshed One

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 04:20 AM

HeII, that's a game in its own rights! I love it!

:rave3:

Rockets can move with launcher.

Actually the whole dogfight can be pseudo realtime, like in Laser Squad Nemesis. You give orders and they carry them out in 10 seconds, or so.

You fire laser, launch a rocket, stir to the right and end the turn. Then 10 seconds all you crafts and stations and all enemy's craft and stations execute their orders, then you give another set.

Weapons on crafts and UFOs must have finite angles of fire so it will be possible to do meaningfull manoeuvres and so tactics will be at least as powerful as firepower itself.

It certainly must be in V1 :D.

Edit: Why does it change heII to heck? :huh:

Edited by UnFleshed One, 07 August 2005 - 04:25 AM.

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#7 sir_schwick

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 09:31 PM

First lets call the aerial battlescape the Aeroscape.

The Aeroscape field would consist of cubes roughly 1/10 of a kilmeter on each side(maybe 1/2 kilometer). The aerofield would have finite size, but would scroll relative to the ground and the distance between units. This way you can simulate evasion, chases, or even strafing and manuevering over a large distance.

The benefit of the Aeroscape is that multiple craft from each side can be simulated. Also, benefits such as rotating turrets and weapon differences would matter. Plus the medium seems intuitive to XCOM compared how interception used to work.

Another issue to consider is the momentum of aircraft. Infantry can stop and turn much more easily then an aircraft travelling at mach 1+. Instead of declaring the next square, you determine how much it trys to turn/roll. On the map you see the steps it takes animated plus any homing missles and such indicated. Any fired projectiles would go along with the TUs of the target, not the firee. The interface would be easy with keyboard commands such as arrows for directions and a couple keys for roles.

There would also be performance limits such as climb or dive angles and G force constraints on pilots. This could also expand the role and training of pilots.

#8 crazy_higer

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:35 PM

Don't you think this kind of air-combat will be rather hard to play? I mean, with the angles and momentum, it'd become impossible to assess the path you want to direct your interceptor to. While at regular Battlescape you can crudely (or, if you're experienced enough - accurately) think out a plan for your soldiers, like "This one goes here and looks around, that one throws a grenade and runs here to hide,..." etc, in Aeroscape, however, you can get to a situation that you can't even get to a specific point 'cause your aircraft's momentum doesn't allow you to turn sharply enough. :Brickwall:

I do agree that it'd seem more realistic, and it's correct from the physics point of view, but as it was said in some other thread - playability over realism.

Edited by crazy_higer, 08 August 2005 - 11:36 PM.


#9 UnFleshed One

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:45 PM

Well, how about that: you select you craft, you select the spot you want it to be and you are shown a path (like in Heroes of M&M) how you craft will go there, every manoeur, how long will it take and so on. Then, you can tweak it a bit (to avoid getting in line of fire of that UFO wich you think will go this way). When you are happy you execute it and end the turn (or just end the turn if in pseudo turn based mode).

With proper implementation it may became like chess!
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#10 x0563511

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 11:51 PM

Don't you think this kind of air-combat will be rather hard to play? I mean, with the angles and momentum, it'd become impossible to assess the path you want to direct your interceptor to.


Nope. Ever play a space simulator with inertial movement? (I-War, freespace2, MS allegiance)... It's only hard at first. After a little while it becomes second nature.

Our brains have the equipment for leading moving objects and path prediction built in. Imagine that you could move fast. Could you catch a curve ball? How about leading a shot? Well, shots don't just move forward, they drop. Now rotate that curve slightly, and you have a fast moving object with a turning trajectory.


<continues to ramble>


Maybe I'm just more spacially aware or something. :P

#11 crazy_higer

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 01:06 AM

Yeah, but those are flight simulators, and we are talking here about a turn-based thing... or at least I think we are. Are we? :)

At any rate, if we are talking about a TB "flight simulator", it'd be kinda hard to keep the speed in mind, as you can't actually "feel" the speed in turn-based, thus rendering the capability of predicting the momentum and turning issues mostly useless.

#12 UnFleshed One

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 01:14 AM

That's why system will show you cute trajectory lines with all nessesary details.
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#13 NKF

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 01:20 AM

When moving conventional jets in the aeroscape, I imagine a system as simple as Halo's vehicle controls for the Warthog. In that, all you do is point in the direction you want to go and hit forward, and the game does all the steering for you until the Warthog is pointing in that direction. It wasn't perfect as there were a lot of obstacles that could stop it from doing so. But in the Aeroscape, unless you're flying low, you'll have no obstacles whatsoever apart from the other ships.

In a point and click situation, all you'd be doing is specifying a new angle for the ship to turn and it'll do its best to turn in that direction, taking as wide a turn as necessary. And yes, a trajectory indicator would come in handy - and it would grow wider or tighten depending on the speed you are while making the turn.

---

Speed - yes, that will determine how far you'd move in each turn.

I imagine choppers, VTOL aircraft and anti-grav ships could hover in one location by simply cutting the speed down to 0 - gradually. For jets, cutting your speed down to 0 will still make you move forward, but you'd glide and your altitude will slowly drop. Imagine a paper dart...

---

Hmm, civilian Jumbo jets...

- NKF

Edited by NKF, 09 August 2005 - 01:25 AM.

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#14 UnFleshed One

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 02:08 AM

Every TU, or every couple TUs (might depends on pilot reaction or speed) you can do some or all of the following:
-- Change acceleration.
-- Dive or rise
-- Tilt left or right
-- Fire some or every loaded weapon
-- Eject pilot :)
Combination and max values will depend on craft's and on pilot's stats.
It will be like chain of commands with vector and speed at the input of first link (result of previous turn) and different speed and vector on exit.

In point and click, system will calculate all this for you, but will allow to manualy modify every link of the chain, providing projected trajectory for current link regardless of all subsequent links (I need a better name for that).

"The turn" will consist of this chain, but it will be executed only at the end. So, you do not make irreversible mistakes too often, and it is still possible to make irreversible mistake in previous turn or two :).

For enemies crafts, system will provide projected trajectories based on how they finished last turn.

To launch a homing missile you have to lock on target by keeping it in sight for some amount of TUs. So you'll have to predict trajectories accurate enough (or just let them "follow" target?).

"Collision detection": in some cases pilot understands his (your :)) mistake and interrapts turn (to avoid raming UFO or something), chances based on pilots reaction. Thus giving you a chance to correct _few_ command chains. If collision avoided, craft will go strait line, or return on course if pilot is smart and brave enough.
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#15 crazy_higer

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 03:05 AM

It could be nice :)
However people, who unlike me, and obviously you, who don't like to go in the detail and have control over EVERYTHING :), might find it too difficult to play.

Why not allowing this mode AND the simple mode too? Somewhere in the options you could specify "manual air combat" or something, and also on the first engagement in the game the player could be prompted for the combat mode.

The simple combat mode could be a slightly improved version of the original one.

#16 UnFleshed One

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 03:10 AM

Yeah, I was going to state that clearly, but it seems to got edited out :). What I meant is that you point and click and if you don't like what you see (or for some other reason), you can edit every link.

Edited by UnFleshed One, 09 August 2005 - 03:10 AM.

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#17 NKF

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 06:34 AM

I imagine you could just have two sets of controls. The simplified automated interception mode and the manual interception mode. The Automated mode would be essentially identical in function to the old interception screen with simple controls. Only the battle will be acted out in the Aeroscape. Basically it'll just be your ship on autopilot and a few range controls. The skill of the pilots and other random factors will determine how well they do.

For the manual controls, it's basically the same thing, but you now have full control over the ship navigation and weapons systems.

Or if you want an even simpler mode - auto-combat. The outcome of the battle is decided in a second and all of a sudden you'll either have bits of scrap metal falling out of the sky, or a UFO stuck in the side of a barn, or perhaps the UFO will have disengaged (or maybe abductd your interceptor with their super bovine tractor beam... who knows what wacky things these aliens can get up up to).

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#18 sir_schwick

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 07:16 AM

I can see the options now in the Options menu:

1) Classic X-COM Interception - This is the mode we all love and remember.
2) Aeroscape - What we have been talking about.

If you did select Aeroscape, an auto-resolve with choice of overall tactics and flash frame version of the battle would be good.

You could even have the same for Battlescape for those who do not want to bother with fighting them. It would be a simple screen where you choose the overall tactics and let it run.

However an issue with both modes is the same issue that one has in MTW with its auto-resolve. The computer does it so much poorly than you that you usuually are forced to use manual just to avoid losses.

________________________________________________________

Here is what you could control on terran aircraft movement:

1) Throttle
2) Pitch
3) Roll
4) Rudder

That sound complicated but you can combine rudder and pitch into a single little box with up/down, left/right buttons. Roll could be the clockwise/counterclockwise symbols. Throttle could be many kind of bar/throttle looking things. You would also have a speed indicator(in mph since its graphically shown to you), and a gimble, and also a small altimeter, mostly for effect. Yes the movement would take some getting used to, but is not that complicated, especially when squares are .1 km each. I would recommend the relative controls rather than square controls because there would be multiple levels of elevation. Unless selecting a particular elevation became easier, this could be frustrating.

#19 crazy_higer

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 09:08 AM

I'm beginning to see it now :).
It'd be super!

You just tinker with your jet, adjust the speed/turning and every time you touch the control, it shows a "preview" of where the jet will be at the end of that particula action, then, when you're satisfied, you click "Next step", the jet "jumps" to that spot, and you do another adjustment, and so on, until you're out of TUs.

And then when you're done, you click "End of turn" and u see what comes out of all this. Sweet!

Mui bueno! Me like it!

#20 jtgibson

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Posted 11 August 2005 - 06:46 PM

I highly recommend everyone here to try out the game called Critical Mass from http://www.windowsgames.co.uk/

Aside from being a great game in its own right (it's one of the few shareware games I've ever purchased), the combat model would work very well for a mixed turn-based/realtime combat system with appropriate changes made here or there. Of course, the camera would be attached to a point in front of the interceptor, zooming in as the UFO closes distance, in order to give a strategic feeling as opposed to a tactical feeling.

I have to say I'd dislike the idea of an aeroscape being turn-based/sequential... interception in X-COM was appealing because it was intense (thumping X-COM theme music, guns blazing, UFO sound effects roaring, explosions abounding)... all in a minimalist radar representation.


Personally, I say, "Don't mess with the classic." My suggestion is to use 3D models and simulate a little bit of maneuvering and jinking as the Interceptor and UFO run along a curving path (i.e., an invisible rail) over a randomly-generated landscape. The more VFX displaying the actions that X-COM:UFO displayed in text, the better (e.g., to engage aggressively, the user clicks the button and the Interceptor slams on the afterburners... and then a distortion wake appears behind the UFO as it kicks itself to maximum velocity in order to escape), as long as it all looks professional. ;-)

#21 UnFleshed One

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 12:50 AM

jtgibson, You just don't see it! :) Also you can always make computer run the fight for you, just like in original. You will be shown only scetch of the battle.
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#22 Shinzon

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 06:37 AM

Wow I like this... I guess multiple craft would have to be assigned to a "wing"? so that they all show up on the battle against the new shiny alien battleship... wow this makes me drule...

#23 sir_schwick

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 11:40 AM

You could group aircraft into wings, but they would be built seperately. Also, hangars would need to store more craft and craft be cheaper. This might open up ground for allowing you to reuse recovered UFOs. Finally it would allow big alien ships to be escourted and for more interesting base defense and attack missions.

Personally I thought interception in UFO DEFENSE was boring very quickly and had wished it was like the Battlescape. The turn based portion of battlescape was exciting because you never knew if the next step would be your last. IN aeroscape turn-based means each step is exciting and you dread the next TU when an alien missle is homing you and hoping that CM works.

#24 NKF

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 04:37 PM

I like the aeroscape idea myself. It has potential, and flexibility and can cover a mass of other areas that have been discussed. Depeding on the controls, it could make combat as simple as the originals, or as complex as a battlescape mission.

---

I imagine wings could act like this. You select multiple aircraft, and appoint a leader - perhaps by simply selecting the leader and assigning other aircraft to work under it (like assigning soldiers to aircraft in X-Com Apocalypse - only, you're assigning other vehicles to it).

Now, when the wing is told to fly in formation, all the ships link up with the leader and the speed of the entire group will be dependant on the fastest speed of the slowest unit in the group. Great for escort duty. When not linked up, all ships act independantly but they will do their best to carry out the order you've given. This would be necessary for interception so that the interceptors can actually intercept a UFO while the carriers take their time to get there. Individual ships should carry out orders on their own when directly ordered, but will act as a group when issued a group command. Waypoints could be issued to move the wing as a whole and then have individual ships move off in other directions as necessary.

Sub-groups within the wings could be an idea for easily moving a large group of ship from one point to another but have the individual wings break off and do their own tasks. For example, we have five ships divided into three groups. One bomber (the leader) and two groups of interceptor pairs sent out to assault a base with heavy air and ground defenses.

---

Speaking of escort duty, perhaps later in the game once you are well known to the aliens, the aliens could have a few specialist UFOs of their own that are mostly stealthy against radar and only show up once they're almost on top of them or they garble their signal somewhat so that it doesn't alwas appear on radar or it fools the radar into thinking they're somewhere else. They'd serve only to harass transport ships. Because they are hard to detect, it would be foolish to let an unarmed transport ship go without escorts. I imagine the UFOs would be small scout-ship like UFOs that can zip all over the place and are armed with very light weapons that attempt to pelt the transport ship to death. Much later transports armed with energy shields and have turrets to protect them will be no match for the harassers, but early transports would require escorts.

I don't know if that'll make more of a headache or whether it would add to the type of missions you can go on.

- NKF

Edited by NKF, 12 August 2005 - 04:46 PM.

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#25 sir_schwick

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 04:58 PM

The big thing it would do is make the air game, which I felt lacked depth in the original, another field of battle rather than a stupid interception window. One if by land, two if by sea, three if by air, four if by space. Also there would be reasons to use a Plasma cannon rather than a fusion ball or vice versa. The Cannon might actually be useful early game again.

#26 jtgibson

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 05:41 PM

My main objection isn't that it couldn't use more strategy -- my objection is more along the lines that a sequentially-turn-based strategy system for interception (like in the battlescape) would look stupid in my opinion.

Fightercraft don't sit and wait for the enemy ship to shoot at them, and then move and shoot suddenly once they receive an allotment of TUs. If you were going for a turn-based system at all, then the system from Critical Mass would be the least I'd be willing to accept -- a system where you choose which weapons to fire and decide upon a turn/acceleration vector, and then allow the game to play in realtime with both ships firing at each other simultaneously for a few seconds before both ships are offered chances to choose new actions for the upcoming turn.

If people insisted upon a turn-based system (which would take a lot of development time, I might add), I would be unwilling but possible to convince to accept a non-sequential turn-based system with specific "phases" of combat. Persons familiar with board games like Classic BattleTech and whatnot know what I'm talking about here. Every round consists of multiple phases, with all units from both sides acting "simultaneously" during their phases. Whoever wins the initiative for a given turn will move last and choose targets last (remember, movement and damage occur simultaneously, so shooting last is advantageous because it allows you to concentrate on the targets who are about to cause the most damage to you -- if damage wasn't simultaneous, it'd be more advantageous to shoot first (for obvious reasons)).

Initiative Phase
Movement Phase
Weapons Phase
End Phase


But I'd still vastly prefer a system that's similar to standard X-COM -- just an automated shooter-on-rails where you give basic input on your fighters' strategy and let them do the dirty work themselves. This would easily support multiple X-Corps craft and multiple UFOs graphically, since they'd merely have to be at different distances from the screen to prevent any model collision (collision detection wouldn't be necessary except for the X-Corps' projectiles against the UFOs and the UFOs' projectiles against the X-Corps).

I don't want the focus of Xenocide to be on interception (i.e., an aeroscape), and I most certainly don't want it to have cheesy action-game elements (i.e., click to shoot). ;-)

To summarise my objections to the aeroscape concept:

1) Too time consuming, unless you skip the aeroscape every time and hope that the game does at least a half-assed job of simulating the results. (I picture losing multiple X-Corps craft like losing mercenaries in auto-resolve in Jagged Alliance 2.)

2) Too developmentally heavy. If this game is ever going to be released, development needs to be concentrated on specific, easily implementable concepts. A realtime automated shooter-on-rails is generally much simpler to develop than an event-driven tactical battlefield.

3) Off focus from the true intent of X-COM. X-COM is about corporate management; research and development; and frightening, mind-wracking close-quarters combat. Adding an element of tactical aerofighting would, in my eyes, cheapen the experience because losing a fightercraft doesn't carry the same emotional impact as losing a soldier does. It adds strategy but loses personality.

4) Off focus from the overall slant of combat in the game. If a whole aeroscape is involved, normal players (non-niche gamers) will probably find the battlescape to be a chore -- "I spent ten minutes tactically taking this UFO down, and now I have to do it all over again to actually recover it?!" ;-)


[edit]Just adding a final word:

The interception in the original X-COM is a game mechanic; it seems very intentionally designed to be simple in order to get the game moving forward to the real combat aspect of the game -- personal combat. Most interceptions in X-COM take less than 30 seconds from UFO detection, to time compression, to encounter, to takedown. Any more than this would strike me as nothing but a serious waste of time. =)

Edited by jtgibson, 12 August 2005 - 09:05 PM.


#27 tzuchan

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 08:44 PM

Personally, as much as I like the idea of exerting complete control over aircrafts in the interception portion, I must agree that turn-based minute control over aircrafts is a lousy way to go.

Based on a previous encounter with a turnbased top down aircraft combat simulator, I have to say at first it sounds very cool, until you start getting lost in when should you fire, where can you turn, and how the heck are you supposed to best use the counter measures.

Personally, I think the best would be a real time simulator that you can pause to give orders. Best of all would be if the time was concurrent with planetview time, so that if you can engage a ufo long enough, re-inforcements could enter the aeroscape from the appropriate vectors.

IMHO, if you give the player the ability to tell the aircraft "go here!", "attack that", as well as assign wingman elements that cover each other and can order aircrafts to guard other aircrafts, it'd be enough to provide a interactive yet simple interception experience.

Don't feel like mircomanaging the interception? Just assign targets and alllow them to dogfight their way to victory or defeat. Want to make the most out of your aircrafts? assign way points, send in fighters to distract while your other wing swoops in out of the sun to flank the UFOs and box them in.
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#28 NKF

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 10:14 PM

This is exactly what this discussion is for. Refining the idea until you get something practical.

No one said the battles in the had to be long, and it's not going to be 100% as intense as the battlescape. In fact, if anything, it would be more abstract. A couple of missles, poof, UFO down. That's it.

Beside, the scale of the battle's going to be much smaller (relatively speaking). 1 UFO, and a couple of your interceptors. The battlescape itself has a potential of having hundreds of units. And there's not going to be as much to hide behind in the air.

---

Its obvious that it would be impractical for you to move a jet about like a soldier in the battlescape. You just can't. That's only practical for UFOs or ships that can hover. Ships would not move immediately when you tell them to move somewhere. You point them in the direction you want them to go. Jets however would continue to move in a straight line and pointing them in a new direction would cause them to plot a turn - which is carried out when you end the turn. The aliens would've plotted their course and we'd have everything play out in real-time.

Step back a little. In essense, what we've got here is good old pauseable real-time with set pauses at certain intervals and disabling of commands during the set interval. When not in combat, you don't want to be using a silly turn based system anyway - you'll want real time.

Or if you really don't want to think about it - just make it pausable real-time and we've literally got what would pretty much be a dynamic Apocalypse cityscape-like generator.


---

Try not to think of the aeroscape simply as just a glorified air skirmish engine that could be solved with a simple coin toss. It can be much more than that.

And yes, it simply must be tied in with the rest of the world with other ships coming in on the playing area once they get within a set range of the skirmish waypoint.

Oh yes, I entirely agree that the game shouldn't be all about air skirmishes. It's just that air combat in the aeroscape is never going to be at the same level of detail when you're in the battlescape.

- NKF

Edited by NKF, 12 August 2005 - 10:18 PM.

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#29 UnFleshed One

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 11:14 PM

1) Too time consuming, unless you skip the aeroscape every time and hope that the game does at least a half-assed job of simulating the results. (I picture losing multiple X-Corps craft like losing mercenaries in auto-resolve in Jagged Alliance 2.)


To consume time is the main and only goal of any game :). Time must be spent good of course.

Well, and now imagine that you never had a chance to intervene and save that mercs? Anybody tried to finish JA in auto combat only? :)

And of course it will be in V1+.
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#30 jtgibson

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 01:23 AM

To consume time is the main and only goal of any game :). Time must be spent good of course.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yep. Consuming time meaningfully is the goal of a game. Consuming time without meaning is instead reserved for MMORPGs. ;-)

Anything that consumes time in a strategy game is an option that I would either vouch against or like an option to shut off on a permanent basis. =)


Well, and now imagine that you never had a chance to intervene and save that mercs? Anybody tried to finish JA in auto combat only? :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That's mostly a non-sequitur, because JA2's combat model is, at its heart, turn-based. X-COM's interception model is, at its heart, realtime. If the Xenocide interception model was in realtime, you wouldn't have to worry about losing multiple interceptors because the AI did downright silly things from a turn-based tactical perspective, because the AI would do what it's designed to do in a realtime perspective. However, if Xenocide was, at its heart, a turn-based aeroscape, then an auto-resolve would almost certainly perform poor turn-based tactical decisions. Artificial intelligence cannot usually compare to real intelligence, unless it cheats exorbitantly or is very expertly designed.

The other problem with this system is that if it's optional ("I prefer playing on the aeroscape" or "I prefer the classic X-COM-like interception"), then the game will naturally become unbalanced when comparing players; one player who is merely good at the aeroscape will probably vastly outperform someone who has utterly mastered the interception sequence. Keeping only one system is an important factor in game balance, if scores are to have any meaning when shared.

#31 UnFleshed One

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 01:39 AM

However, if Xenocide was, at its heart, a turn-based aeroscape, then an auto-resolve would almost certainly perform poor turn-based tactical decisions.


I believe the problem is not there :). AI decisions may be poor or good but. But it is the same AI who make decisions for both sides :). And that's generaly mean that victorious will be the side with more firepower. Exactly as it is in original "one-window-three-buttons" interception model. But you have the chance to go and make your own worse or better decisions. And if you didn't fight youself and lost it is "missed oportunity" losses which are fiction anyway.
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#32 NKF

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 02:47 AM

The same argument could be said about the original X-Com games. Some players are better at micromanaging from the geoscape than playing the actual battles, and would prefer to sometimes skip battles entirely. To them, the battlescape is just tedious. (Of course, then these players are definitely playing the wrong game, but that's not the point ;) )

The aeroscape is not there to replace the battlescape. It's there as the first stepping stone that leads to the battlescape. Rather than getting into the "X is better than Y" mentality, why not "How is X going to make Y better"?

---

All right, so you don't like the turn based idea. That's fair enough, as even I can see that are many potential difficulties that can arise from it - but what would you propose to make it better? How can we make it work - but more importantly, fun - whether in turn based or to use a pause-able-real-time-with-time-compression system? I mean, the air-to-air combat worked to a reasonable extent in Apocalypse. (and used the latter system)

I don't want to see the idea dismissed just because it's not the same as the original or it sounds tedious or it's too hard to do. Nothing ventured nothing gained. You never know. It could be fun. Besides, assuming the code is well structured or modular, it could just be dropped at any time.

- NKF

P. S: I think the poor results in autocombat in JA are common because the enemies you face are of sufficient quality and quantity to effortlessly decimate* your veteran mercs (who don't regenerate as easily as town guards) and even the most elite of your town guards. Against your mercs, they have numbers, and even if they use simple weapons, they often outnumber you and if you're injured, all your skills deteriorate. As for your town guards, even a dark blue vest town guard isn't too much of a match for a black vest soldier. Although it felt like autocombat simply involved soldiers standing still and shooting each other until the other side died, it didn't stop me from using it though. ;)

P. P. S: Decimate comes from Roman times where every tenth person was killed as a form of punishment. Or something along those lines. No, wait, what the heck am I going on about? Oh forget it.

Edited by NKF, 13 August 2005 - 03:03 AM.

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#33 jtgibson

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 03:09 AM

I've already made my suggestions on the part of a turn-based system. Something like Critical Mass, or something like CBT with separately-defined movement/action phases.

Beyond that... well, I'm a fickle person, which I'll admit freely: I don't contribute to things I don't like. So essentially that's pretty much the extent of what I'd contribute to an aeroscape concept -- a very glib plan along the lines of "similar to that". If you guys want to make it work more profoundly, it's up to you. ;-)

#34 sir_schwick

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 08:29 AM

I would even suggest a system that combines WE-GO we pauseable-real-time. In this system you can plot out more than one manuever at once to make your life easier. Also, each pilot has a Response Time. This is how many TUs before they can perform a new action. Piloting and navigation do not require the pilot action units. Pilot actions do include:

Gain Radar Lock
Fire Missle
Fire Cannon
Use Counter-Measure
Use ECM


You would run the battle at a 1TU at a time pace(maybe a couple TUs per second or faster). Like in battlescape, if something new can up it would automatically pause. When in a danger situation it would automatically stop when a pilot could do a new action after doing a previous one. Also convenient would be 'follow them', 'evade them', 'form on wing' commands that autmatically plots maneuvers for an aircraft to accomplish those goals.

Projectiles would travel with the same TU system so it would not seem ridiculous that you fire and hit instantly. Also, I imagine advanced terran craft and alien craft would have vastly different manueverability and that would be another factor that may make interception 'difficult' this time around.

On Auto-Resolve:

Personally I found many ground missions, small scouts when you have flyings suits and HP, in the original a little tedious and had wished for a way to resolve them more quickly. Instead of the AR, which offers no control, how about a basic waypoint system with tactics. Think a simple version of Rainbow Six that can be paused, but allows easy missions to go easily. Same thigns could be done for aeroscape, except with, attack that commands and such.

However any AR should be saved until the first V1+ patches come out.

#35 Blood Angel

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 10:09 AM

I think it could be handled in a way similar to laser squad nemesis. You give your craft 10 seconds worth of orders, they carry them out, time stops, give another 10 seconds worth of orders, get carried out.

To move, you assign a destination for your craft or a heading (direction) for it. You could assign both, but it would be limited for you, unless you change the speed. Also, you could give orders to your pilot to break off and engage any enemy they see if they see it whilst performing orders, or just to continue blindly.

#36 sir_schwick

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 11:10 AM

I like the LSN, but there has to be a difference in action times between pilots so their stats were important. That is why I think real-time has to be rolling, but number of actions per time amount has to vary between pilots.

This does bring up more that can be done in Aeroscape though. Now you could actual see and calculate which parts of the UFO would be damaged. Imagine that the command center of a BS was hit by one of your missles. A weapons guy or navigator could be knocked out and then those functions do not work on the craft. The guy in the back seat of your interceptor may be grazed by a plasma bolt and killed, rendering weapons controls to the pilot who has slower reactions because he is flying. It also means that ground installations, such as base defences and AA and grounded UFOs/XCORPS craft could be simulated.

#37 Blood Angel

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 11:14 AM

I like the LSN, but there has to be a difference in action times between pilots so their stats were important.  That is why I think real-time has to be rolling, but number of actions per time amount has to vary between pilots.

This does bring up more that can be done in Aeroscape though.  Now you could actual see and calculate which parts of the UFO would be damaged.  Imagine that the command center of a BS was hit by one of your missles.  A weapons guy or navigator could be knocked out and then those functions do not work on the craft.  The guy in the back seat of your interceptor may be grazed by a plasma bolt and killed, rendering weapons controls to the pilot who has slower reactions because he is flying.  It also means that ground installations, such as base defences and AA and grounded UFOs/XCORPS craft could be simulated.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I can see how this would work. As your pilots increase in rank, it takes them less time to do things, so they can do more in a turn.

#38 sir_schwick

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 02:16 PM

Yes, but since everyone moves simultaneously then that has to be translated more literally than TUs were for the ground. However the idea is the same and would bring the same connection to pilots you had to soldiers. Now recovering that pilot from a downed interceptor would seem even more important.

#39 Blood Angel

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 05:10 AM

Nah, you miss my point. I think. A rookie pilot would take, let's say, 5 seconds to accurately fire a missile, a top ace would take 2 seconds, and could therefore fire 2 missiles in the time.

#40 sir_schwick

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 09:28 AM

I understood, I just would prefer a system where the time would stop two seconds after both had fire missles so the top ace could fire again. Another two seconds later he would get to fire again and then one second after that the rookie would have his chance.

#41 Blood Angel

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 01:43 PM

No, you just command him to shoot twice. Imagine a counter, every action you do adds 2 seconds to the counter, for instance.

#42 sir_schwick

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 03:36 PM

Ahhhh, I see now. That would be somewhat or even completely better than pausing whenever actions are avaliable. It would save some time and make the air-combat even more tense.

Now lets move on to the subject of G-force stress, or the Aerial version of Stamina. In my vision, each pilot has a G-force threshold that is unique. Better pilots have higher thresholds. Every time g-forces exceed that threshold it takes away from their Stamina and when stamina hits a certain low they start to suffer in performance. The higher above threshold and lower your threshold the worse the effects of exceeding it.

#43 Blood Angel

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 03:40 PM

Obviously, tighter turns or going faster would induce stress, and if the stress reaches maximum you either limit your speed/maneuvrability or keep going and risk a blackout. Blackout means you move in a preset path determined randomly, either straight forward until you hit something, or spiralling downwards to a slow, prolonged death, or gradually slowing down until you fall out of the sky, or gradually diving until you hit the ground. Of course, if you are lucky, they will come around and attempt to rectify their course.

#44 sir_schwick

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 08:00 PM

If there was an easy way to track roll angle, pitch angle, and rudder than that path would be determined by the pilots last setting plus some drift(their hands pulling the stick). I am guessing ships with alien navigation would go on auto-pilot/defensive auto-pilot whenever the navigator lost conciousness.

#45 Snakeman

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 12:59 AM

Good point shwick, fighters outfitted with alien technology can help counter some of those effects. Its certainly one reason to build alien navigation apart from using it to build ships from scrap - as mods for old/refitted craft.

Making that component in the old game also costed more than what you got when you sold it, so I think its a nice drawback. Expensive if made, no profit if sold, mainly useful for components you have to make or manufacturing orders you need to fill for others.

I like much of the interception stuff here btw. Although if it didn't go that way in favor of only a slightly improved interface, I think I'd still opt for an improvement to the craft visual button to show you senstive areas you could target (clicking twice, once for the type of attack being done, the other on what you want to target if any - otherwise it could perform as before as a general attack type of deal).

#46 Blood Angel

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 01:56 AM

Hmm. If it does happen that we only get the original-style interception, I seem to recall a "View Craft button" in the original X-com. If this could be given 3D rotational view and was live, showing battle damage to the craft, as it happens.

#47 Snakeman

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 06:54 PM

If it could show you real-time type damage being done, it could also let one know what shape the UFO would be in to help further decide whether to do the recovery afterwards i.e. If it turned out your pilot was hitting parts of the ship you didn't want to damage.

Of course, this would have to mean that ship damage would translate as close as possible from what's done in Geoscape, to what's ultimately found on the battlescape end in terms of map generation of the ship.

#48 sir_schwick

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 10:19 PM

What happens in both scapes should translate into each other. If the square you ultimately land on(squares are .1km a side) was hit by a stray round or such, it could have random damage. You should be able to hit landing UFOs, or landed UFOs. You should decide whether to start two miles or two feet away from the landed UFO, or even hover when you have flying suits.

#49 UnFleshed One

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 10:33 PM

And you should be able to call air support if you have couple of jets nearby. (It was disscused somewhere if I'm not mistaken). Therefore you should be able to go out from battlescape (in pause) to give orders. It can bring some complications though, like two simultaneous battles :).
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#50 FadeRathnik

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 04:01 AM

I've been reading this thread and i have some ideas... Aeroscape is a really cool idea, you could use it to make more of a 3d tactical display instead of the cheesy old interceptor radar screen. You could leave the method of decision the same but imbellish the animations, 15 or so dodge animations, 12 shooting, and so on... I dunno just think modern tactical display, but you could use the same display method for base assaults. If you want controlability try including a waypoint system like in the geoscape...wait...

How is this for an idea, there fairly accurate topigraphical data for this whole planet and some of thos maps are public access. So how about you LOD the Earth:
Geoscape the most simple
Aeroscape, i think this should have two main scales one for interception with a wide swoath of area and something with maybe a quarter area for assault landings and such other slow moving arial events
and of course the Battlescape....
And all of this maps the game renders could be bassed of real geographical data, well maybe not the Battlescape that sounds like it would be a progect in-it-of-itself to do something like that.
If this will help...

There you are sitting content in your geoscape... Contact detected, so you launch your brand new ultimate craft... it easily catches up to the UFO... Then the Geoscape zooms in to the Aeroscape and angles to 45degress by default( make it a mobile camera for fun). You tell the pilot what tatics you want him to use, and the game rolls it out. Depending on the scale would determine if you would need complex or simple animations. But all tangets asside you bright and shiny peace of hardware bagged you a UFO... Now it zooms in again you assign you landing, review recon(3d image of the terrain maybe), double check equiptment, and choose an LZ... then zoom in to the Battlescape with the ship landing, then battle.

But think about it one clear path from orbit to the ground that the viewer follows.

ehh I hope this helps =b