Jump to content


Photo

Multiple Exits From Craft


  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 dteviot

dteviot

    Programming Department

  • [Xenocide Senior Members]
  • 1,479 posts

Posted 12 September 2006 - 07:10 PM

A number of people have commented that when starting a mission, one of the high risk points is when you deploy your troops out the single exit of the craft they deploy from.
So, would having multiple exits on craft for troop deployment improve the game?
Saving the world from the scum of the universe is hard work. Especially when you have to create the scum to begin with.

#2 Snakeman

Snakeman

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 227 posts

Posted 12 September 2006 - 09:23 PM

I think yes, if they can make them inventive enough, or even customizable by the player if a template system for ship hulls was in there post v.1.

First generation transports could have 1, second generation 2-3, third and final? could be 4 for the largest kind.

It'd be interesting to have a ship that let you drop down from a hatch in the floor, climb out or fly through one on the roof, plus have the big rear hatch and perhaps one in front just under the cockpit. Another could have side hatches etc.

Depending on the ship size, perhaps a chance to mix up the type of exit method, such as 1x1 or 2x2 scale grav lifts. I like the idea of grav lifts simply because they can be TU savers.

#3 Robo Dojo 58

Robo Dojo 58

    Colonel

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,001 posts

Posted 12 September 2006 - 09:24 PM

I don't think the problem is how many troops you can deploy on the first turn. Rather, the issue is getting a good mix of offense and defense for those first vital turns. Logistically, I really liked how the skyranger in UFO worked, as opposed to the Triton from TFTD. Drop some smoke, fan your guys out over time, and the landing gear/ramp provided some rear end cover while you dished out heck. The troops inside were pretty safe from hostile fire, the troops outside could all provide cover fire, and you couldn't put too many eggs on the field first thing. Others may favor the Triton, since you only have to secure one side of the field, while the craft shields you from the other side. It makes a problem for grenades getting thrown over the side though, especially when it's at you, killing everyone inside. The Triton also made cover fire difficult, as there was often a big metal hunk blocking someone's line of fire. These issues made the Triton a frustrating experience for me.

More openings lets you get more good guys out, but it also lets more bad stuff in. The craft should be a relatively safe haven for undeployed troops. It should also limit the players ability to hurt themselves. If you can deploy all your forces in one turn, all it takes is a single grenade to doom yourself. Having entrances every which way could also cause issues with troops dying before they even leave the craft. Can you say "guided missle through the side door"? :( More openings also means you have to secure a 360 degree area all at once. A single opening means you can focus on only the front to start with, and fan out as areas are cleared for more troops. This is partly an issue of player interaction. You don't want to lay it on all at once.

I found the Skyranger design to be excellent overall. You only have to worry about the front to start. The elevated level made it difficult for ground aliens to shoot the front few kneeling units. The ramp starts with a shield on the left and right, letting you clear the front arc with little fear. Then you could move on to the sides. Clearing the sides, you were covered from the rear by the landing gears and ramp, and the wings protect you from grenade attempts. After that was secure, you could move south to the second gear. Once again, the craft's shape keeps grenades at a distance from your tightly packed crew, allowing you to completely secure the landing zone. As you can see, Skyranger deployment starts with a complete cocoon of safety, and then provides layers of protection as you progressively spread out and secure the field.

The big problem I've had with deployment, at least in UFO, is putting my troops in the order I want. I think many here would agree that the commander and his trusted PSI-lieutenant shouldn't be the first two out of the craft. Some more intelligent troop sorting would go much further than turning a craft into swiss cheese. :D

Lastly, securing the landing zone is a job for smoke, tanks, cover, and heavy weapons. No player should be penetrating a virgin zone with rifles and pistols, and without heavy cover. It's a job for big guns, big tools, and heavy offense. ^_^ Most of this is stuff the player should be providing for himself, with the craft there as the first line of defense. To sum everything up, the drop ship's real purpose is providing a safe starting point for a mission to get started. That's all a player really needs, IMO.
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.

FMIX-The General Stores

#4 Snakeman

Snakeman

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 227 posts

Posted 13 September 2006 - 07:40 AM

Well this is something else too Robo, not just troop order for who you want to lead first through the exits, but like you say, the possibility of dooming yourself by leaving too many doors open to enemy grenade/blaster bomb lobbings and stray fire. Its a strategic choice whether you leave yourself open in this way.

I think some functionality to doors is in order too, not just in type (stairs, ramp, grav lift) but in whether you can actually open and close off access to any one entry point as you see fit. A good carry over from TFTD (as I understand it anyway, haven't played anything but the demo several years ago) could be that right clicking as you face a door could open and close it.

I just think some basic Battlescape functionality like this is in order, from door operations, to light switches, to firiing up the VTOL engines for brief periods without liftoff to burn up any baddies lurking underneath ship - ya know, fun type stuff :)

Anyway, right click could be our friend here. Anywhere you find a door, computer console, or whether you need a tool kit in hand plus face an important object like those, a menu of options can come up that lets you know how else you can interact with the 'scape.

Also there's other things to think about when exiting, for instance, if you have a 1x1 grav lift to the top or bottom of the ship and it happens to be placed where tanks normally park on the transport, that would mean that it would have to move out the front or back wider openings before that lift is freed up for a 1x1 unit to use the appropriate lift. There's all kinds of ways you could mix up these kinds of things in terms of placement and access.

#5 Blood Angel

Blood Angel

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 513 posts

Posted 13 September 2006 - 09:46 AM

There are so many opportunities here. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who wished that the plasma cannon mount on my Lightning could be used on the ground ;)

Let's not get too carried away, though. It's an aircraft, not a mobile fortress. I think the features should be limited, maybe external searchlights, or perhaps (very limited) point defence turrets?

Onto the topic of exits, I think more realistic use of space would be a good idea. I mean, the Skyranger had no internal equipment at all, it was basically a flying tube. No consoles, no seats, nothing. Neither did the Avenger. At least the Lightning had computers, seats and an elerium power core. The new craft should be modelled with seats, consoles, etc.

I think the basic craft should have multiple exits, perhaps the main rear ramp and a smaller side-door for the pilot. Maybe the ramps could be activatable from inside only, so you'd need a guy to activate the control panel to lower the ramp.

Later craft, using more UFO-like designs, could have more exits, maybe four doors on the sides with internally-controlled ramps, and perhaps a four-square gravlift for tanks.

#6 GARAK

GARAK

    Sergeant

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 13 posts

Posted 13 September 2006 - 03:15 PM

Even if you could shoot from the windows or gun holes.

#7 Snakeman

Snakeman

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 227 posts

Posted 14 September 2006 - 11:48 AM

Let's not get too carried away, though. It's an aircraft, not a mobile fortress. I think the features should be limited, maybe external searchlights, or perhaps (very limited) point defence turrets?


Fundamentally I have to disagree. I think any limitations should be the ones that we put on ourselves, not so much so what is hard coded necessarily. Any feature that you want a transport to have should mean you have to take something away, that's why I like component wrangling in this context.

A good example is one you sited above, point defense weaponry onboard a particular transport hull class can cut down on your exit placement choices. It fits in well with ideas of making ships like the Lightening have various uses than the original crap one.

#8 Robo Dojo 58

Robo Dojo 58

    Colonel

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,001 posts

Posted 14 September 2006 - 07:19 PM

Fundamentally I have to disagree. I think any limitations should be the ones that we put on ourselves, not so much so what is hard coded necessarily. Any feature that you want a transport to have should mean you have to take something away, that's why I like component wrangling in this context.

If Xenocide was inspired by X-Com: Interceptor, I'd have to agree. But this isn't an Interceptor inspired game. Dropships should serve a simple and up front purpose. They bring troops to battle, and provide a defensive position for the first few turns. After that, everything should be left up to the squads. It's their game, after all. B) Turning a dropship into a do-everything fortress is technologically unfeasable, and game unbalancing. It also adds unnecessary complexity that provides very little to a player. Leave the fortresses to the alien ship designs.

As a battlefield unit, the dropship is there to provide a simple starting point for the most complicated part of the mission- the initial drop. Its normal tools and armaments should only serve to take stress off this initial process, perhaps by opening the dangers of the field piece by piece, some initial lighting for night missions, even some initial smoke for the first wave of troops. A battlefield craft weapon for the Lightning seems to be pretty popular among the forums. Its defenses should be restricted to those that aren't useful after the first few turns, whether it be the safe inside of the hull(gotta leave sometime!), the safety of knowing you're covered on two sides by metal, or a small heavy-weapons safety net around the ship(wings trump grenades!). Later on, these defenses may expand to protect your squad from things that can destroy you in a single turn, such as PSI on the rocket man inside the craft, or the dreaded guided missile inside the drop ship. But these defenses should be simple and intuitive; players shouldn't have to worry about them.

None of these things should be perfect, of course. At some point, sitting your troops down doing nothing on the initial drop is going to have to get you killed. Not to mention that you'll eventually have to assault the alien fortress- I mean ship- and leave the safety of your dropship completely behind.

Other than that, KISSilly!

Edited by Robo Dojo 58, 14 September 2006 - 07:23 PM.

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.

FMIX-The General Stores

#9 Snakeman

Snakeman

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 227 posts

Posted 15 September 2006 - 01:15 AM

I never played Interceptor, but I have played other games that have used this approach.

I'm not advocating turning ships into fortresses for the sake of it, just the freedom to do it or come close. The only limiter in my opinion should be space on the transport type used. If you have a relatively decent enemy AI to begin with, each with different weapons and abilities to bring to the table as well, then you have something.

To go further, you could impose another kind of trade off, the more stuff you have onboard to give you an edge those first few turns, have that sacrafice your ship's overall durability - - let it be that much more prone to being turned into swiss cheese in the Battlescape by stray fire from the heaviest weapons the enemy has. i.e. you went out of your way to have 6 exits on your ship so you could exit on all sides, now you have that much more of an incentive to not waste time and deploy asap.

Edited by Snakeman, 15 September 2006 - 01:20 AM.


#10 Blood Angel

Blood Angel

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 513 posts

Posted 24 September 2006 - 04:39 PM

The danger I was thinking of would be that you'd just lump some rookies in a ship and send them out, and let the shipborne weaponry do all the work.

Unless we're going to implement aliens with anti-armour weaponry this could be a possibility.

#11 Snakeman

Snakeman

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 227 posts

Posted 24 September 2006 - 10:14 PM

True that's another balance issue I think - craft weapons, their fire arcs, and whether they should act like HWPs do (reaction wise) and/or should it mean a soldier unit has to be facing a bridge console, or any console where the firing arcs are for those guns to work in the first place.

Maybe some gun emplacements in either case would have limited arc coverage too, from 10, 20 or 30 degress up/down, side to side, with a limited few capable of swiveling a full 360 with up/down movement.

Maybe the overall trade off between weapons emplacements and doors is that those can be shot off to form breaches rather than the rest of the hull taking too much. That way there can still be nooks and crannies to take some shelter. That still leaves plenty of opportunities for aliens to sneak in or lob grenades through.

Now if we can just get the alien AI to become smart enough to recognize these craft firing arcs to either go around/between them, or peck at them just out of their ranges on occasion.

Even if you can still limp a ship back to base that's lost all its weaponry and had its doors blown off, I think its also a good idea that when a ship is repairing back at base, it should take from alloy stockpiles to do it. Field repair kits that work similarly as medkits in the battlescape could lesson some of that repair time too.

#12 Robo Dojo 58

Robo Dojo 58

    Colonel

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,001 posts

Posted 25 September 2006 - 03:31 PM

I doubt that craft weapons are going to be a real concern. Their abilities will not be much greater than that of an X-Caps, and their lack of mobility leaves them a sitting duck. Plus, a limited firing arc with no movement restricts their use. Lastly, aliens toting a heavy plasma will likely be able to take it out in 1-3 hits, limiting its usefulness to the early deployment stages. However, attracting fire is a good thing for rookies.

#13 Blood Angel

Blood Angel

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 513 posts

Posted 25 September 2006 - 04:22 PM

Do not forget that the craft weapons are much more powerful than their HWP equivalents. To draw the difference, boot up XCom, put a few rookies and a heavy plasma hovertank in an avenger armed with a plasma cannon. Take down a ship of any sort, and note the damage. Now try replicating that with your HWP.

Although, if we're going to compare the lightning and the avenger, I could probably justify at least some kind of craft weapon on the lightning being usable. This would be the difference between the lightning and the avenger: In XCom, the lightning was the inferior ship, but in Xenocide they could merely have different roles, the lightning being used for light ship combat and mobile fortressry, being as it is a mobile fortress with a turret-mounted craft weapon, and the Avenger being your standard super-dogfighter and straight out attack ship.

#14 Robo Dojo 58

Robo Dojo 58

    Colonel

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,001 posts

Posted 26 September 2006 - 09:24 AM

Do not forget that the craft weapons are much more powerful than their HWP equivalents. To draw the difference, boot up XCom, put a few rookies and a heavy plasma hovertank in an avenger armed with a plasma cannon. Take down a ship of any sort, and note the damage. Now try replicating that with your HWP.

Ah, but craft weapon damage was never shown in XCom. As NKF has pointed out, craft damage is done entirely from the power source going boom. This gives a bit of leeway as to what a craft weapon is capable of when soldiers are present. I won't deny that a craft's plasma beam would leave a pretty long path of destruction. But a line can only do so much damage on a battlefield, compared to big round explosions. Plus, there can be counters to the weapon. One idea is that the weapon is destructable. It has health and armor, just like a HWP, and once it's destroyed you gotta go without. Another is that enemies can get an "opportunity evade" check to the weapon. Enemies who spot the weapon pointing at them can react and walk away from the line of fire.

Lastly, have the craft weapon only limited to the cannon and beam weapons. They're the only weapons with a reload time fitting for the turn based combat anyway. The other weapons can be unusuable due to weapon design (won't arm over short distances), aiming, all that stuff.

Although, if we're going to compare the lightning and the avenger, I could probably justify at least some kind of craft weapon on the lightning being usable. This would be the difference between the lightning and the avenger: In XCom, the lightning was the inferior ship, but in Xenocide they could merely have different roles, the lightning being used for light ship combat and mobile fortressry, being as it is a mobile fortress with a turret-mounted craft weapon, and the Avenger being your standard super-dogfighter and straight out attack ship.

On top of being unique, it'd provide the craft with the heavy weapons support that it currently lacks. Being immobile is a very large downside, since not all the threats are outside. There's still the considerable force inside the UFO that your troops must contend with, without the help of the craft. All in all, I think the upsides and downsides of a craft weapon balance each other out pretty well. It provides the troops with a useful tool for the start of a mission, and it stops being useful when it's dead or can't reach. For terror missions it might prove uncannily useful, since there is no thick UFO hull to worry about. ;)
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.

FMIX-The General Stores

#15 Snakeman

Snakeman

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 227 posts

Posted 26 September 2006 - 02:55 PM

I think there can be good balances between transport types too. The Lightning is a great example with its craft beam turret. That turret is a good example of one that could go up and down and do a complete 360. Well maybe not exactly up/down, but certainly its straight level line of sight at level 3 and shoot things on the 4th.

If all you had is the traditonal stair exit because you wanted room for a 360 turret underneath that dealt with anything on level 1 (and because of this modification), can leave level 2 exposed, the level where your troops begin on the ship can be one type of design shortcomming. i.e. while the side walls could be blaster bomb or plasma proof by the nature of this schematic you chose, you still have to funnel out the one main entrance.

Taking one big turret away from its design can allow for either another type of exiting out the top or bottom, but gives you a smaller side mounted weapon option, or an option of a second side exit. I figure, any big craft weapon like this will consume space, it only makes sense that if you take one away that would give you space to improvise in different ways.

I'd estimate for the sake of this argument of the Lightning that one big craft cannon equals the same space as 2.5 exits or a small side gun can take up. i.e. one configuration could be 1 top or bottom exit but all side firing arcs covered with four small guns.

The tradeoff in a design like this is the potential of having four big holes from the weapons getting shot off and giving your soldiers a bigger danger of exposure with no where to hide, besides limited side to side and up/down coverage of the weapons themselves. Another obvious tradeoff to me is that its not a good craft config to use in the Geoscape portion of combat, limited to going up against very small, small or medium ships.

I figure, the size of the gun emplacement should probably translate into its range as well with these if not the type of gun by its self...something like having a small, medium, and large version of a given type affecting ranges but dividing capability with some too.

Examples:

Heavy Plasma Beam: Longest range beam weapon in the game.

Geoscape Capability: Same obvious Geoscape pros from the old game, this time allowing for precison targetting in conjunction with some other research or craft component capability.

Battlescape Capability: Range of up to 12-15 squares. Depending on placement on the hull determines further capability, like 360 coverage for instance. Can fire once every 2-3 turns or 5 minute recharge in real time between firings.

Likewise, a big gun emplacement could equal either a 2x2 scale gravlift type entrance placement, or large ramp fore/aft if you took the gun out from a design.

Large side mounted (pick your lesser gun type):

Geoscape Capability: Varies (ranges I'm guessing would be much smaller than Plasma Beam, think point defense at extremely close range)

Battlescape Capability: Range of 8 tiles around ship. Range of motion limited to hull placement (as with the heavy beam).

Exit options when taken out could be sliding side doors with an opening as wide as the tradtional Skyranger ramp i.e. 2 soldiers can stand side by side in the opening.

Pick your small - to - medium gun emplacement here:

Geoscape Capability: None

Battlescape Capability: Range of 5 tiles around ship. Range of motion limited to hull placement (see above).

Ships like the Skyranger and Avenger offer up different design challenges as well. For instance, while the Lightning concepts can allow for using heavy 360 coverage, the Skyranger or Avenger limited option could be something like only small chin mounted or belly mounted short range turrets can do 360s. Taking one of them out either through a combat mishap or because you wanted it that way can give you two more exit options where a small turret hardpoint can equal a smallish exit (ramp, stairs like the Lightning's original, or 1x1 scale gravlift or 1 squareish equivalent blast hole in the case of being blown away in combat).

This isn't to say there couldn't be other options with these two craft, just highlighting another aspect to the overall idea of players choosing their designs from hulls on offer.

Edited by Snakeman, 26 September 2006 - 03:16 PM.


#16 Robo Dojo 58

Robo Dojo 58

    Colonel

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,001 posts

Posted 27 September 2006 - 06:21 AM

I forgot. One last thing to balance the craft weapon out, is that it could have no vision on its own. It'd need spotters to go out and risk themselves before you get good use of the weapon.

Snakeman, weapon hardpoints do not an exit portal make. The reason they are called hardpoints is because there is internal space available for ammo, high power machinery, weapons control systems, structural support, and other internal pieces of the weapon you can't fit outside. A weapon can't just be slapped on anywhere, there are structural, storage, armor, and weight considerations to deal with. And it most CERTAINLY can't just be replaced with a door. Aircraft doors need powerful construction to withstand the forces of flying a decent atmosphere at extremely high altitudes. It has to be practically spaceworthy, or the craft can't go high enough to reach top speed. This sort of stuff is what craft are built around, it's just not a modular thing.

As for putting weapons on other craft, nah. They didn't have them, they didn't need them, and they still don't. Small, medium, and large weapons put too much complexity on craft design and craft armament in a game about squads and resource management. This is stuff that troops are supposed to do on their own, anyway.!

I maintain that craft should remain as tools that get your troops from point A to point B. Thus they should remain simple, with only minor considerations and tech advances being the real concerns for the user. Putting a battlefield weapon on the Lightning is a way to make it uniquely useful, as opposed to being just a tank-less craft that is quickly ignored and replaced.
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.

FMIX-The General Stores

#17 Snakeman

Snakeman

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 227 posts

Posted 27 September 2006 - 12:42 PM

I think you missed my point entirely Robo.

I'm interested in coming up with ways to make a class of craft versatile by the player through a template system. As they see fit. Everything branching off of that concept is all about game balance and tactical choices.

If your dropping coponents in a design or taking them out, you can in fact have something where a hardpoint can equal an exit or visa versa. That's called customization. One Skyranger template may do without the main exit ramp in favor of two side doors and a rear gun in place of where the ramp was. A second Skyranger might have a chin gun. That's the fun of customization on general terms.

Edited by Snakeman, 27 September 2006 - 12:43 PM.


#18 Sharp

Sharp

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 101 posts

Posted 01 October 2006 - 05:56 AM

I think having craft weapons working on the ground would unbalance the game, I mean why not just use a firestorm to do a strafing attack on a downed UFO to kill the aliens, and also same for the aliens why don't they use thier craft weapons during UFO Assault missions? Would just unbalance and make the game over-complicated.

What I would like to see though is a ship similar to the one in the UFO intro which actually has an exit point on the roof of the ship, this could be done with grav-lifts or if the ship is for before getting that technology then a normal mechanical lift. I was dissapointed after watching the intro that you couldnt actually do that because the would be awesome.

#19 Blood Angel

Blood Angel

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 513 posts

Posted 01 October 2006 - 01:45 PM

Maybe just stairs?

#20 Snakeman

Snakeman

    Captain

  • Forum Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 227 posts

Posted 02 October 2006 - 12:37 AM

Yea, like the Planet Express ship from Futurama.

It had stairs as part of its front landing foot which I thought was pretty cool. It also had a mechanical cargo lift like Sharp was talking about plus a side hatch.