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Topics - Pretend

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Discussion / Another X-Com's vet thoughts
« on: March 31, 2008, 06:00:11 am »
First of all a brief introduction. I am 26 year old hardcore gamer from Finland, northern europe. One of the biggest game franchises for me has been the X-Com series and it's spinoffs. I bet I am one of the rare people who have not only completed X-Com, X-Com 2: Terror from the Deep and X-Com 3: Apocalypse but even the infamous X-Com: Interceptor. I have also played around with Altar's trilogy (UFO: Aftermath, Aftershock, Afterlight) which I thought was the closest thing to the original X-Com until I found this freeware project.

I played Alien Invasion to the point when it ended with a <to do> screen, so I guess you haven't quite finished it yet. However, while playing the game for several hours I noticed this and that, which things to improve. Here's a quick list (mostly just simple things):

- When I had several bases I had problems keeping track on what's happening in which base. Instead of "Research on X finished" the announcements should always include the base name "Research on X finished in New York."
- Dog fight sequence needs some graphics. Even just a static videoclip like in X-Com. Better if you could raise this up to another level with some new idea.
- Maybe this is a thing in development, but I experienced 99,9% of UFOs to be harvesters. Only a couple of supply ships and no others if I remember correct. One fighter which was landed.
- Again maybe in development but the financial balance was really weird. After selling some alien equipment I had a constant 900 million or something ridiculous so that money didn't really play any role during the whole game.
- Then the big one. Imho the inventory and personnel management screens should be reworked. The interface for storage items is not good to use. It doesn't work well with the amount of different items available. And also there should be a page for hired soldiers to rename/equip/compare/hospitalize/transfer/train/cloth them. Now soldier management is spread on multiple pages.

- First of all I'd like to point out that some maps were brilliant, while some were way too dull and unimaginative (is that a word?). Also, about half of the maps were really small in size. And even the "big" maps were average size at best. Is this a design decision or engine limited?
- Civilians are a horrible drag. :) There could be armed police and/or soldiers on some missions helping the player out.
- Camera should focus on the source of a sound during the AI turn like in original X-Com. It's simple but great. As it is, you have no idea where that gun fire is happening if you don't have a direct visual. There could be a "?" icon moving around the map when sound fo movement is heard but no direct visual on the alien/civilian.
- After the red line when you spot an alien for the first time disappears, you have no quick way of knowing does your other soldiers see that same alien during that turn. Maybe those red lines should be toggle on/off or some other notifier if your soldier has a direct visual on alien(s).
- Line of sight in general is a bit of guessing and trying. Would the engine allow lighting the tiles/eg. fog of war (not complete pitch black) to show the soldiers visual range?
- There could be some noticeable effects between full health condition and dead. I didn't notice anything, but a wounded unit should aim poor, move slower etc. Or just collapses to the ground but stays alive (if mission is completed).
- I understand the engine has it's limitations but I missed even some miscellaneous destructive (tables and chairs), exploding (barrels) and flammable (cars) map items.

Equipment ideas:
- Landmines are a must.
- Homing eg. waypoint missile was a great fun in X-Com, but don't overpower it.
- Concussion grenade and crossbow with darts to catch some live aliens would be nice.
- Hi-tech riot shield would give new tactical opportunities. One soldier on the point would have a large shield to give a moving cover for others behind him.
- The landing craft could have a weapon which would fire reaction fire during missions.
- I would like to see later stage projectile weapons too. Lasers and plasmas are for girls.
- Jetpack (but maybe with a very limited energy). Just to get on that roof.

Other ideas:
- One of the biggest positive things to me was the great work on the ufopedia and research proposals and such. Someone has really written interesting and believeable reports there. It's the soul of this game. But make the techtree more interesting, tactical and suprising. Some techonology proposals could just be plain waste of time. And at some point you would have to decide A or B path, but not both.
- You could bring in another faction than just Phalanx and Aliens. Some big country/continent would ally/become servants with the aliens and that would bring human vs human fights too.
- Try to make the soldiers more unique. Maybe not as far as Jagged Alliance series go, but bigger differences to their stats, maybe some voice sets, different skin colors, taller and shorter ones etc etc
- Blood or whatever the aliens bleed. Acid? Anyways, this could leave blood trails to find that hiding alien you wounded already. And not to mention that gore is always good in games. :p

Well that's all I remember now. I'll be around looking if I could I help with something. I have no talent in coding, but I think I could learn the map editor fairly easy. If you need audio effects or music I might able to help. I also have talent in 2D-graphics/editing and plain ol writing.

PS. I have always hated the PSI/psionic skills and weapons which every X-Com style game throws in. Why not just skip that whole cliche and invent something different for the aliens. Maybe they could just cause fear and panic to your unexperienced soldiers if caught pants down. No psionictonydanza needed.

Keep up the excellent work!

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