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Messages - BTAxis

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Discussion / Re: Feedback and impressions after 1 campaign
« on: January 22, 2012, 11:38:12 pm »
I think you make a compelling point with your comment about predictability. That's definitely a weakness in a time-only approach. It is supposed to be compensated by a certain expected duration for the player to research all the good equipment, and I suspect that's not really working out for most players. It's hardly easy to get an arbitrarily set difficulty scale right, which is where the difficulty setting comes in (the aliens escalate faster on higher settings). Maybe it's possible to find values that keep the campaign interesting to the player despite being predictable, or maybe some more dynamism will work better. I'm not sure.

Discussion / Re: Feedback and impressions after 1 campaign
« on: January 22, 2012, 10:50:49 pm »
Hi Solver. Good to see people like you weighing in. I'm not very active in this project anymore, but I had a big part in drawing up the campaign system. The main underlying philosophy I had when drawing up the rules was that the campaign should unilaterally present a constantly increasing challenge for the player to rise to and overcome. I explicitly did not want the campaign to become easier or harder based on the player's performance, because I felt (and still feel) that any such mechanism would ultimately translate into a "best strategy" for the player to exploit to his advantage. Winning the game should be about beating the campaign, not manipulating it into letting you win. This is why the amount of UFOs that appear on the map, their type, their crew complement and the equipment of said crew are a function of game time - and game time alone.

As I said I'm not very actively involved anymore, and if geever, H-Hour etc. decide the game is better served by a more reactive campaign system then that's what will happen. I'm just explaining my rationale here.

Artwork / Re: Alien bestiary
« on: March 03, 2011, 12:30:39 pm »
1. Do we need two levels of blast damage? I'm thinking about how we model the difference between the effect a grenade might have and the effect a rocket with a large payload might have on a medium or heavily-armored tank unit.

Just for the record, this is doable already because of the way damage weights are implemented (see armour mechanics).

2. Normal damage types seem to be made obsolete by plasma and laser. Both share all of normal type's effective range and adds to it. Any ideas on how we can preserve normal damage type late-game? Could the Plasma be a high-speed projectile that doesn't work well on unarmored organics? Perhaps the normal damage type is effective against scout mechanical aliens?

Don't forget that needler guns use normal damage as well, as does the coilgun, which is one of the few human-tech weapons that should remain effective until the late game.

Artwork / Re: Alien bestiary
« on: March 03, 2011, 09:48:35 am »
I think this could be a good candidate if we changed its description to be predominantly or fully organic. If you agree, the first step is tracking skorpio down and getting the files. I don't think he ever shared them.

Only if we absolutely have to, I'd say. The philosophy behind the Breeder is that it's an abomination of flesh and machine, an engineered, living sack of XVI that enslaves humans to the alien hive mind. That's the horror element we were looking for. That said, I think this is an option we should keep in mind.

1. Do we want to plan aliens to have different AIs, or should we focus on diversifying them by the existing stats/damage types? At this point we barely have a single AI.

Both, ideally. What we'll end up with depends entirely on what we can achieve, but the objective is to diversify the aliens in both behavior and parameters. Going only with the latter is second best.

2. Rather than ranking their defensive capabilities just in terms of strong/weak, it would be good to set out particular strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps ortnoks are more vulnerable to penetrating weaponry while the tank is more vulnerable to explosive weaponry? Which aliens are weak against laser attacks, which are weak against kinetic attacks? Setting out a diverse set of enemy weaknesses will also encourage the player to carry a more diverse package of weaponry. In an ideal world, it would be nice if research expanded options rather than just moved the player from one tech level onto the next, but of course some techs are going to become obsolete. You've probably got better ideas on this than me, but it would be nice to set those down in your list above so we can see how they all stack up.

Absolutely. I didn't mention any of this in the OP because I don't have a clear idea on how each alien should be configured, but for some time now I've been meaning to make each alien vulnerable/resistant to particular types of attack. I want to achieve this through "inherent armour", which is a set of armour values intrinsic to the alien species. Each member of the species would get those armour bonuses whether they were wearing any armour or not (wearing armour would stack with this). This seems the most elegant way of dealing with aliens that don't wear any armour at all, too.

Like I said, exact configuration to be determined, so do feel free to discuss this as well.

Alien tank

Would be very cool if we could pull it off.

Alien flier
Since it is organic, perhaps it could also play a role late-game as a psi-amplifier (a kind of battlefield comms unit). Destroying this unit could reduce the cumulative effect of any other psi units.

Possibly. I like how that would make it a priority target.

Artwork / Alien bestiary
« on: March 02, 2011, 11:14:25 pm »
I'm making this thread because I think it's time we made a clear list of aliens we ultimately want to have in the game, which would be helpful for graphics contributors. I think the discussion about this should be done in two steps:

* First we need to determine what kind of enemies we want to have in the game, in terms of what the role of the enemies is in tactical engagements, what sort of hazard they represent to the player (and by extension, what sort of tactics they entice from the player), how they behave and how they complement the other enemy types.

* Second, we have to fill in the details for the enemies. Once we know what an enemy is supposed to do in the game, we can talk about what it should look like, what sort of innate abilities it should have, etc.

I'm starting off the discussion by first listing what we have, and then by making suggestions for how I think what we have can be extended.

What we have
This section lists the aliens that are either already ingame or are in an advanced stage of planning. What you read here should be considered set in stone.

* Role: Physically weak enemy with somewhat sub-average combat abilities, but with lots of mental capacity. Serves as a weak enemy for the early game, and a dangerous psionic foe for the later game.
* Implementation: Done.

* Role: Tough and strong, this enemy is a foot soldier fighting at the front. It should be used by the AI as a shock troop, preferring a direct assault over careful tactics.
* Implementation: Done.

* Role: The Shevaar is the aliens' secondary infantry combatant. It is meant to be fast, with a lot of TUs available for moving and firing. It should also have different inherent armour than the Ortnok, so different weaponry works well on it.
* Implementation: Done.

* Role: The Bloodspider is more or less to UFO:AI what brainsuckers were to X-COM Apocalypse: small, fast and highly dangerous if you let them get too close. They don't have ranged weaponry, but are dangerous in melee. Their primary role is to harvest organic material though, so they aren't meant for combat.
* Implementation: Done.

* Role: Hoverbots are flying, mechanical units. They have limited firepower compared to ground based units, and they serve mainly as scouts and air support for other aliens.
* Implementation: Done.

* Role: Breeders are half-organic, half-mechanical vehicles meant to infuse victims with XVI. In battle their primary role is to find civilians and turn them into alien drones, but when attacked they can retaliate with strong psionic attacks as well.
* Implementation: Rough sketch. Open to improvement or complete redesign. Note: 2x2 unit!

Alien wormhole device
* Role: It's not an alien as such, but it behaves like one in base missions. The wormhole device channels the psionic abilities of the hive mind on the other side of the wormhole, so while it can't move or attack normally, it can use psionic attacks in tactical combat.
* Implementation: Done, I think? Again my knowledge of our artwork fails me. Tell me if you know.

What could come next
This is my personal idea of how the bestiary could be extended. The goal is to provide a number of enemies that require different approaches to beat, without going overboard and making too many similar types.

Alien tank
* Role: The purpose of this unit would be to be very tough and heavily armed. It's an enemy to attack from cover, because a direct engagement would result in almost certain death. It should be a 2x2 unit, so it can't enter confined spaces. It should also be mechanical. Mode of movement could be tracked, wheeled or legged, whatever works. Think ground-based, alien UGV.

Alien flier
* Role: Another aerial unit for the aliens, this time something more combat-oriented. Since the other flier is mechanical, this one should probably be organic.

Combat Bloodspider
* Role: An upgrade of sorts for the Bloodspider. The Bloodspider is a harvesting tool with offensive abilities, but this version is a straight up combat droid. It should be faster, tougher and deadlier than the regular bloodspider, and it should appear somewhere in the mid game.

- can run 2.4 ufo2map but do not have console output which bothers me

I get this too, actually. It's not usually a problem though, just annoying that I can't get the usage help to print. Since I compiled this executable, it seems likely that my MinGW environment is somehow to blame. Maybe I should try getting rid of it and rebuilding it from scratch.

Newbie Coding / Re: First coding attempts : pilots
« on: February 20, 2011, 03:50:27 pm »
However, your point applies to the entire game : if I loose a soldier, I just hit reload. If my base gets attacked because I was looking elsewhere, I just hit reload. So on...
What can prevent the player from doing so ? Does this mean this is bad design ? I don't think so.
Just because the players WILL try to exploit the game to a point where no attributes and skills are meaningful, does not mean necessarily we should not add features.

You're right about this, players can load their game, and will do so. There's no real way to prevent this, nor is it really desirable to. I mean, that would just make the game annoying for a lot of people, and we wouldn't want that. But we can at least try to make the system as exploit-free as we can. Don't rely on the player to make the choice you expect him to make, and don't expect mitigating circumstances to have the effect on the player you think they will. Instead, make the system robust, leaving no incentives for abuse.

So, in that light, and back on topic, I see only two decent ways we can do the pilot design.

Option 1:
Give pilots a number of skills, and make each skill govern a certain part of what the pilot does, like we discussed previously. However, these skills are fixed, never improving over their initial rolled values. The effect will be that the player is going to want to review his pilot roster from time to time, and maybe replace his current pilots with ones he likes better.

Option 2:
Give pilots one single skill, called simply "piloting", which governs ALL aspects of what the pilot does. This skill improves as the pilot participates in missions (exact mechanism to be determined later), or if he stands by at the base (on the assumption that he will spend this time training in a flight simulator).

Either way works for me, so take your pick.

Newbie Coding / Re: First coding attempts : pilots
« on: February 20, 2011, 03:04:49 pm »
Well, for the survival skill, there will be a good chance of loosing the pilot each time he's shot down. If the player is willing to take the risk.

There is no risk. A player will simply load his game when he loses a pilot, you're going to have to assume so. UFO:AI is very save/load friendly in this respect, to the point that it offers the player that awful, awful retry button at the end of a tactical mission, for no other apparent reason than to save him the trouble of loading his game.

The point I'm making here is, if the skill is trainable by purposefully getting shot down, then players WILL do it, and load their game if it fails. Therefore, it's bad design.

And, having the pilots flying all the time just to improve their 'piloting' skill doesn't sound foolish to me : our respective air forces do it all the time ! The only limiting factor would be price of fuel and availibility for scramble / interception.

What H-Hour said. If it's possible to do this, then the player will feel forced to, because NOT doing it would be foolish. So it only adds tedium, I'm afraid.

For targeting, if the pilots hits something, then his skill improves.
For evasion, it may be used as an additional check in the calculation in 'AIRFIGHT_ProbabilityToHit'. If succesful, then, the skill improves.

Then you get a self-reinforcing effect. Good pilots will improve quicker than bad pilots, because they successfully hit/evade more often. This is counter to the principle of diminishing returns, which is what generally underlies training progress, and which is also what's used for soldier improvement.

I really don't mean to make your life difficult, but I know bad design when I see it, and I'm seeing it now.

Newbie Coding / Re: First coding attempts : pilots
« on: February 20, 2011, 01:47:28 pm »
3 - Skill improving in mission : that's a trickier one. When a pilot uses his/her skills, then they will improve. How much ? To be defined, tested and debugged.

I think you'll run into a number of issues with that. If a pilot's skills when they get used, then wouldn't that encourage getting shot down, in order to train the survival skill? And wouldn't it encourage sending pilots out on flights all the time, even when there are no actual UFOs to intercept or missions to go to? And in combat, how would evasion and accuracy NOT improve equally quickly? Remember, the only way having multiple stats is meaningful at all is if they're used individually and independently from each other. Otherwise they're just a gimmick.

Newbie Coding / Re: First coding attempts : pilots
« on: February 19, 2011, 10:56:27 am »
Hi Malick, good show on working on the pilots so far. Let's talk about the design for pilots and air combat a bit.

Firstly, as you will probably already know, there's the proposal for UFO interceptions, which still counts as what we want to end up with eventually. Therefore, the pilot design should be done in this context.

Secondly, there's the old pilots proposal that stevenjackson did. This is old and no longer considered in line with our wishes, so this is the part we're looking to redesign here.

Now, my idea so far was just to use one stat for pilots that governed everything, but I see you've got something more complex in mind. So the questions I think we should answer are:
1) What exactly does each attribute do? Do the attributes only translate to a bonus to skills? If so, why do we need them?
2) What do each of the skills do exactly, in the context of the interception proposal?
3) By what mechanic do each of the attributes and skills improve?

From what I can see, 1) seems easy to answer: we don't need attributes. Pilots play a much smaller role in the game than soldiers, so they don't need to be modeled in too much detail. A pilot's performance can be adequately expressed in his skills alone, I feel.
As for 2), I think targeting, evasion and survival have obvious applications. Targeting gives a bonus to weapon accuracy, causing more shots to hit the target, evasion reduces enemy accuracy, and survival increases the chance of a rescue mission appearing if the pilot is shot down. I'm not sure about piloting, though. A plane doesn't fly any faster just because it has a good pilot. Not sure what this skill would do.
Finally 3), this depends on how far you want to go. But there seem to be only limited ways in which the various stats can increase independently from each other, since a pilot basically always does the same thing (shoot at the UFOs, and get shot at in turn). I think you'll end up with stats uniformly increasing most of the time, which is why they might as well be a single stat. But this is a point of further discussion.

Mapping / Re: WIP on alien base
« on: January 26, 2011, 09:54:15 pm »
Thumbs up. I'd put more thumbs up, but I only have three.

Offtopic / Jedi Knights versus Megatron
« on: August 08, 2010, 12:42:39 pm »
I woke up with that phrase in my head, so it must be important.

Artwork / Re: New here. Want to help
« on: June 26, 2010, 10:26:52 am »
The reason why it's stayed the same is that it was edited without my knowledge, and I've not really had a reason to look at it again since we have had no one really working on new armour for the last 3 years.

The list itself was never edited. The only edits have been about status and info links.

Discussion / Re: 2.3 = Hospitals still pointless?
« on: June 24, 2010, 10:59:10 pm »
Medikits are in for a redesign, but that's for a future version. One step at a time.

Artwork / Re: New here. Want to help
« on: June 24, 2010, 10:19:15 pm »
Could you list all the armors that are needed for phalanx? I was under the impression that it was only:

Combat armor (+Advanced version)
Nano composite (+Advanced version)
Power armor (+Advanced version)
Jump armor

That's correct.

Or do you mean that my concept sketch should rather represent the Advanced version?

I do believe that's what he meant, yes.

Could you make a list of the armors with info on how early they are available, their strengths/weaknesses and if you can, story related info (advanced materials used in production and such)? I guess the lower tier powered armor would be available before the nano composite?

The Combat Armour is available from the get-go. Then the Power Armour is researchable right away too, but the Nanocomposite one needs some initial alien research first. The advanced versions will need further research and should appear somewhere halfway through the game with the jumpsuit appearing last. There is no detailed info available for the armours, but you can assume they are all based on alien designs.

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