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TFTD Level Design Appreciation


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#1 xtro

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 02:10 PM

gotta give a word about how I liked some of the 'clever' design of the USOs/levels in TFTD to increase the difficulty.
I felt some of the ways they increased difficulty (strange tech tree, crappy weapons, ridiculous enemies (lobsterman!)) were fairly cheap (eg. not having a working rocket launcher on land - just lazy design!).

but I really liked the thought that seemed to go into some of the USOs to make them tougher to attack.
My 'favorite' being the medium sized 'hunter' - the aliens are on a gantry overlooking the enterance & stairs up, so they get reflex shots as you try and enter the USO. Didn't take much for the entance to be full of piles of rookie bodies following a soviet-style human wave attempt to storm the stairs (-;
yeah, you could just dynamite your way in the back, but where's the fun in that? :P besides, you still have to get up the steps. The fact that you have to think about it at all also shows the effectiveness of the design (in UFO 1 it tends to be just 'go in door, fire guns, next room, fire guns, win, repeat)

The 'large scout' was much more dangerous than in UFO 1, with lots of doors with aliens waiting behind, plus a small 'enterence room' for them to pop in and out of to blast you with accurate shots as you closed in on the door.
the 'supply ship' had that cool gantry, with aliens on the bottom floor shooting up at you, plus the guys by the 'windows' to try and shoot you on the way in.
the dreadnaught had that cool mini-maze thing at the top as you closed in on the final room where the commanders lurked... (plus the little window so you could say 'hi' to them as you came out on the top floor!)
quite liked the terror missions too, with the 'cargo bay' of the cruise ship being a particularly nasty one (loads of aliens hiding in a windy, crate-filled room) a 'realistic' situation of how messy combat can get in an area where it shouldn't happen? (just grenade everything, to heck with the civvies!).
and lastly, the level 2 of alien colony assault, with lifts and stairs everywhere, ruining the usual 'secure an area and move on' strategy that works everywhere else, making for a unique mission experience (-; - plus they filled it with lobstermen & tentaculats, close combat nightmare!

even if the game was 'rushed out', I thought the new UFO floorplans and level layouts showed nice attention to detail (think of all the furnature in the ships... :P)

Edited by xtro, 28 March 2010 - 02:13 PM.


#2 uncy

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 12:12 PM

hey, I love TFTD alien crafts too! I would love to remake some UFO1 alien ships to resemble more the TFTD ones. Just a thought.
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#3 NKF

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 10:46 PM

There are a lot of nice maps in the game. Even the shipping lane maps are good, however they do get repetitive.

My issues with TFTD's maps however is more on the technical aspect that result in some general weirdness such as getting a message that you don't have enough energy to traverse a tile (when you're at 100%), or being able to see through some otherwise solid objects (standing behind the 2nd lvl hotel staircase in island mission for example). Or spawn nodes in the interior level of colony/artefact sites that result in aliens spawning inside solid earth - making it difficult to do a clean-sweep.

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#4 Roderick87

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 02:56 AM

I also had some issue in the island terror missions. There was a tile in the 2nd floor right next to the staircase which I couldn't go through, my aquanauts always went around it as if it was some sort of column. It never really bothered me too much, and I think it was a good idea to add variety to terror missions. After maxing my soliders in UFO, I eventually got bored and just shot down every UFO I saw, just waiting for an important research or manufacture to finish.

Something I didn't really like was those colonies with 4 floors and crazy design. I know it's supposed to make it harder, but I beat them in beginner killing a few aliens and just can't imagine what colonies must be like in genius or superhuman :uhoh:

#5 uncy

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 12:18 PM

TFTD nodes are a mess in some maps... The cargoship mission spawns aliens in bathrooms where the aliens can't get out. The same for the island mission, alien spawing in the "piramid" building and not being able to get out...
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#6 xtro

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:42 PM

c'mon guys! this isn't another 'complain about the billion bugs in TFTD' discussion but praise for the level design (even if sometimes it doesn't execute properly because of bugs!) :P

the ship maps are the most lusciously designed in the original UFO games, in my opinion. When I reinstall TFTD every few years the first one is always a fun experience. The attention to detail is unrivalled in the series.
The fact that they become game-spoilingly tedious is more of a problem with the 'increase difficulty cheaply/lazily' the designers were doing due to time constraint - long missions all the time instead of small easy ones - making the game boring. If you had 2-3 ship missions tops over the course of an average game, instead of EVERY FRIGGIN' MONTH, that would be perfect.


hey, I love TFTD alien crafts too! I would love to remake some UFO1 alien ships to resemble more the TFTD ones. Just a thought.


the UFO craft are nice, and perfect for the '50's/60's flying saucer look they were going for, but they're just a bit, well, samey.

the TFTD ones all have their own 'personalities' though. The alien colony feels properly 'alien', too, wheras the alien bases in UFO1 felt rather... human (except the alien gardens). It was like you were fighting on your turf or base. In the TFTD colony, it definitely feels like you're fighting in their turf...

#7 NKF

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 12:10 AM

If going by general appearance, the crashed cargo ship and the underwater research facilities deserve good mention as good maps. The Mu pyramid ruins aren't too shabby either. A lot more points of interest than the plain seabed maps, or (for me at least, quite common) the volcanic rock map sets.

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#8 uncy

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 04:07 AM

I noticed there are maps named "alien base" in TFTD not used in the game... anyone knows what happened to theses maps?

Edited by uncy, 06 April 2010 - 04:08 AM.

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#9 fodase

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 11:13 PM

I agree completly, the level design in tftd is much superior to xcom.

The maps are larger and more detailed, each map having its own personality. They are also much more challenging with plenty of cover and ambush points.

Like someone mentioned, ducking out with the aliens in the coral reef is a really thrilling experience because at the start of the game you just won't be able to blast everything out. The research station and the airplane graveyard are also very unique and interesting. Even the bland ones are quite fun - who doesn't like to blast sand dunes or those pipes?My favorite one gotta be the ship graveyard though. One I didn't like much was the one with heat vents, until I found out that the vents work as light for night missions.

In xcom the map doesn't really matter because you could always use scorched earth tactics. Whereas in tftd that's not always an option, specially on dry missions. Tftd maps force you to think and maybe that's the reason why people don't like 'em - they can't use their honed skill of sitting on the corner blasting everything on the way. The weapon restriction on dry missions also adds to the challenge, which is a good thing.

The USOs are better designed as well and even the small ones will pose a big challege for your green aquanauts. The two stage missions have huge and intimidating maps which will give you a good sense of accomplishment when conquered. The aliens bases being always dark was a if-you-see-Kaying genious idea!

A lot of people will complain about the AI which is indeed quite buggy. But I do think they are buggy in a good kind of way. The alien who won't move will force you to move slowly, but that's not a bad thing, it just adds to the tension. Besides the alien spawning inside something bug, I never experienced the "last hidden alien" phenomenon which seems to plague most games. Yeah, an alien is hidden inside the bathroom, so what? Learn to search the area with your scouts. An alien is standing in there with full TU ready to reaction fire anything that moves, so what? Kill it from a safe position, manouver behind its back or send a scout to bite the bullet. It's not rocket science. Most of complains about alien behaviour can be easily dealt with LTP.

To simplify, tftd maps are much more complex and HARD which might turn off players who abused scorched earth tactics on the first xcom.

#10 NKF

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 11:23 PM

And for those that liked the scorched earth tactics, it comes back in full force once you gain Sonic Pulsers.

The odd alien spawning thing in solid rock in a location that cannot be accessed is mainly present in the interior level of colonies and artefact sites. They mainly want you to use surgical strikes with those missions by seeking out the heart of the base, destroying it and then fleeing. Even if it was a royal stuff up on the mappers part, I don't think they wanted to encourage the good old clean sweep (and getting all the loot without manual intervention).

I helped another player troubleshoot a shipping lane mission that wouldn't end and discovered that a Xarquid had spawned in vertical shaft at the front of the ship. You can't cut through the walls even with sonic cannons, and being on the bottom-most level, even the Gas Cannon shell or grenade through ceiling trick wouldn't have been much help. In this case, you can still evacuate the mission but it's impossible to reach the next map normally.

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Edited by NKF, 13 May 2010 - 11:25 PM.

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