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Messages - Jon_dArc

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Tactics / Re: Weapons/Armor research
« on: January 27, 2012, 05:21:47 pm »
Between the need to research to enable autosell and the fact that Interest advances slowly enough to cause large stretches of time with nothing available on the tech tree, I research everything. That said, my priority order:

Bolters first. I used to open with Lasers, but it takes three techs to get anything man-portable out of it (CWLO, DF cartridges, and a weapon)—considering that this is the only part of the game where the number of available scientists isn't the limiting factor, it doesn't even slow down obtaining lasers much.

Laser pistols second. Getting close combat troops to suddenly be a ranged threat is big. Also, very easy on the ammo supply, which is nice when production is still slow and the asymptotic market hasn't yet gotten used to the idea of DF cartridges existing.

Nanoarmor and plasma grenades are roughly similar priorities, with plasma grenades coming in slightly ahead due to both techs being useful (while Alien Armor is only good for enabling autosell).

Laser rifles come roughly next. I used to go for kerrblades/monoknives, but I've started instead giving my close-range troops two different kinds of pistols. Haven't gotten very far in a new game since this happened, so plasma pistols may move up into this slot.

In principle Heavy Lasers would become a priority when Shevaar come on the scene, but I've always researched them as part of exhausting the available tech tree by that point.

Plasma blades, needlers, particle pistols, and coilguns as soon as they become available.

Stun rods are low priority, I fit them in wherever.

The other weapons are just for when scientists have nothing to do. Plasma weapons may have their priority increased simply to enable autosell and keep from drowning in the things. Late-game I started using the plasma blaster (once the flamethrower stops being useful, and the trained soldier who was using it needs a new gun), but that was well after it showed up.

(I should make special mention of the Medium Alien Armor for the feeling of betrayal from my first game when I prioritized it heavily, only to discover that it doesn't lead to anything)


Discussion / Re: Impressions after playing the latest nightly
« on: January 27, 2012, 03:15:35 pm »
One idea that came to me to slightly reduce the tedium of missions would be to keep a list of recently used maps and bias the map selection logic against those maps—I remember one stretch on the October 15th nightly where BigCity just kept coming up over and over and over again. Even on HEAD (well, as of a week or two ago, I've been busy) I start to forget that there are maps other than a short list (africa, bridge, druglord, farm, give or take).


Discussion / Re: Some rant about ufopaedia texts
« on: December 14, 2011, 03:43:45 pm »
Wanted to clarify a few things about some weapons and aircraft, and therefore read some mail, and noticed again that the texts are verbose and useful info is not very clearly accessible.

So I got a little wicked and tried out how many lines of text are needed to tell me that something is a storage facility.
While I agree that the UFOPaedia texts have serious style and content issues, this isn't a particularly good example—it takes all of one line of text to tell us that it's a storage facility (less if you count the name). Admittedly that's preceded by a bit over a half-dozen lines of administrative debris, but that's all in the form of an email header that the eye quickly skips over—on my machine, the relevant information appears without scrolling (though if there's reason to believe that a meaningful portion of the playerbase uses a significantly lower resolution that might be an issue). Nearly everything else is just flavourtext.

"Live ammunition and other sensitive equipment such as alien artifacts are kept in locked containers in the quartermaster's office behind rigorous security; checking anything out of locked storage requires the presence of the base quartermaster and written authorisation from the Command Centre."
The security being rigorous or not rigorous depends on the context.
The security being rigorous is Marcel LeClerc's personal opinion.
Perhaps he is trying to tell me that in his opinion the security is too rigorous for PHALANX base storage and we should relax more instead, maybe even treat it as a junk yard?
It is dependent on the context, but the context is assumed—it's Marcel LeClerc's opinion in his capacity as Base Commander of Pacific Operations Command.

More problematic from my view is that the UFOPaedia description is at odds with the base tile as shown overhead and in base attack maps (security? Where?), or the fact that only certain kinds of people take up living quarters (where did this quartermaster appear from?), but this is pretty nitpicky.

Even if the storage facility text absolutely has to be that much verbose
I think what you're digging towards is a deeper issue about how the UFOpaedia descriptions serve two orthogonal roles—they provide (or ought to) important gameplay information on the one hand, which should be done concisely and scannably, and on the other they serve as flavourtext for atmosphere-building and player entertainment.

in an official letter I would expect item categories and associated security standards (id and name), and it better be formatted as a list or else Maj. LeClerc might be in trouble.
Maybe it is specific to the place where I live (although I very much doubt that), but I do not think a base commander would be interested in Marcel's personal opinions, like a letter to mom (trying to convey the attitude of myself as a player reading it).
Even just without the "behind rigorous security" part:
"Live ammunition and other sensitive equipment such as alien artifacts are kept in locked containers in the quartermaster's office; checking anything out of locked storage requires the presence of the base quartermaster and written authorisation from the Command Centre."
This is, of course, just one example of such detail in this text which looks like it is supposed to be an official letter, and this text is just one example of of the ufopaedia texts that are written with similar attitude.
I think here again the deeper issue is that all UFOpaedia articles are structured as direct reports from persons of significance in PHALANX; descriptions of routine installations, procedures, and equipment read strangely in that context (note especially the articles on, say, the Combat Knife or most other equipment available at the start of the game).

At least the storage facility article doesn't outright lie to the player, as the Small Hanger article does by claiming to be an entry point during base invasions.


Tactics / Re: What's your favorite weapon?
« on: December 08, 2011, 03:32:27 pm »
On the October 15th nightly:

Grenade launchers. Mediocre range, but for 15 TU you get a high probability of a kill, plus good ability to damage or even kill additional targets.

Machine gun. Huge damage output (near the top of the damage/TU ratio list) and a long effective range when crouched, plus those magical moments when the aliens decide to line up for you.

Plasma blade. Go around corners with confidence!

Coilgun. Ammo's large and expensive, but with a good sniper I find I get about the same number of kills out of the two rounds in a coil magazine as I do from the sniper rifle's 5.

Not long ago I would have said the flamethrower, but with alien armor getting heavier I'm starting to have aliens survive Infernos—the guaranteed kill (with an unobstructed shot) was the big factor making up for the tiny range, so with that going away I'm not sure about its future in my loadout. Still a favourite until Interest gets into the mid-upper 200s.


Discussion / Re: Building new bases. Request.
« on: December 08, 2011, 04:09:49 am »
hmm.. what is the meaning of 'most annoying' in english?
maybe i should have said 'least awesome' instead, but this does not quite capture the tedium[…]
it seems that 'least awesome' might be for native english speakers, but i would rather say 'most annoying', because everything else feels better than that.
It means what I think you wanted (and is used by native speakers in that context); "most bothersome", "chief amongst irritations", etc. "Least awesome" also works, but is more natural for cases where you're emphasizing that the whole is good despite a particular flaw; I don't think it's what you want here.


Discussion / Re: Building new bases. Request.
« on: December 07, 2011, 11:12:39 pm »
Given the state of gameplay documentation, my hunch is that it isn't so much that the devs don't play the game, but rather that they're working from a detailed knowledge of the game sufficient to mask many of these issues. Your small-hangar-building issue is a perfect example—I'd hazard a guess that any devs who play know off the top of their heads which buildings are base entry points, and probably haven't even thought about how a new player finds out about such things (or if they have, they've shuffled it down on the to-do list—which, for a work as in-progress as UFO:AI is, isn't entirely unreasonable).

Maybe if I get some time I'll see about volunteering to update some of the documentation…


Discussion / Re: hit probability and movement
« on: December 07, 2011, 11:05:20 pm »
I beg to differ, as in reality one doesn't dodge bullets - but it is more difficult to hold a steady aim at a target that's moving rather than staying still.
Right, but my point is that we've already got a fundamentally unrealistic situation—the target remains motionless during the attacker's entire turn, and for that matter the attacker's team's entire turn. This proposal would end up with us acting as if the target is stationary part of the time (if you move or shoot at something else, the target will still be in the same square in the same posture when you finish), but acting as if it's moving at other times (when the attack gets the target-moved penalty). The end result doesn't feel any more realistic to me.

That said, the way combat works now renders such philosophical discussions moot.


Discussion / Re: hit probability and movement
« on: December 07, 2011, 04:32:39 pm »
Non-simultaneous movement is such a big departure from realism in this area that I don't really see target movement helping. I think a better way to model this, if it's desired from a gameplay perspective, would be to permit reserving TUs for evasion (or simply applying a penalty to hit based on remaining TUs, subtracting the appropriate amount for Reaction Fire reservations).

Now that I think about it, the big issue with this kind of thing is that to-hit is done by having the target occupy a stationary volume and the attacker's shots emerge in a cone. Either of our suggestions would basically mean that shots spread variably depending on the characteristics of the target. Also keep in mind the ability to aim and fire at empty space in front of a target—I think the whole concept of having to-hit vary on anything about the target other than its silhouette is a non-starter without completely changing the combat system.


Feature Requests / Re: fuck realism, dont kill ma soldier ;)
« on: February 02, 2011, 11:38:08 pm »
It is supposed to be pretty crippling... Otherwise, it would essentially eliminate the risk factor (well, barring instakills).
I don't think it would; under my proposal you're still down a unit for the rest of the mission, and you still need to move a medkit-carrying unit close enough to stabilize him (and spend the AP to actually do so). More than that, he can only be stabilized but not healed with the medkit, so he's looking at a guaranteed stay in a base hospital until he gets back to positive health (if the "large permanent healing via medkits" loophole is closed the stay gets even longer, though it's no longer a jump from "no time at all" to "a bunch of time").

Remember, the result of being too crippling is in general that people end up risking their time (or their enjoyment) instead of the unit—that restart mission button is always an option. The trick to getting people to accept disadvantages is to give them control, make them feel like they chose it; unit loss is currently much too arbitrary and hard to avoid to come even close to qualifying, and having an extra unit out of the fight grinding away on something uninteresting just blows goats.

Maybe cut the wounded soldier's APs to say 10 then (so that they can *either* move a bit or maybe fire/RF once) […]

Or, if we get the feature I proposed (heal oneself for 30AP "alt-fire" in medkits), it could just tie up the soldier himself once he's brought to consciousness by another.
Could work, if the soldier is able to be returned to consciousness; I was assuming that he'd be just as thoroughly out of the fight as before, just with a way to make him not permanently gone. That said, just allowing the unit to be stabilized and out of the fight is almost identical to this (it doesn't require a medkit in the downed unit's inventory, granted) without making the player manually order the unit not to die every single turn.

have him need to be healed if not *every* turn, then at least pretty often (every 2-3 turns).
Eh. The aliens currently hole up too much for this to be meaningful; you wouldn't be able to move very far away, so under most circumstances I think you'd just end up with the same situation


Feature Requests / Re: fuck realism, dont kill ma soldier ;)
« on: February 01, 2011, 06:17:02 pm »
Make it "you need to pump them with a medkit every round until the end of combat" and work only when the wound is not /too/ bad, and it might be efficient enough penalty -- essentially, tying up another of your soldiers in a vulnerable position ;)
Too crippling; I could see having a reduced but not eliminated post-treatment bleeding rate, but from my point of view the primary reason to change is to reduce the incentive to restartscum. If faced with the prospect of tying up another unit (especially while the deploy limit is still 8) camping by the dying unit until the end of combat, especially if they're expending 20 AP per round, I'd probably just restart unless I was solidly into the mop-up phase.


Feature Requests / Re: fuck realism, dont kill ma soldier ;)
« on: January 30, 2011, 10:02:49 pm »
You end up worrying  a lot less about corners when you adapt your tactics to include *shooting through walls*.
The damage penalty is big, especially since corners involve two walls (meaning you need the big giant gun of no ammo) unless you can get someone into the inside. More to the point, you also have to know where your target is—either by having sighted them, gotten someone close enough to use Goggles, or by guessing based on the source of hostile fire (probably against a civilian) or simple luck.

You can add to that the Plasma Blaster, which isn't massively accurate but has a long enough range and high enough power to allow an alien to pop around a corner across the map and snap off a pot shot which will, every now and then, actually hit someone and paste them.


Feature Requests / Re: Training mission / simulation room
« on: January 30, 2011, 09:49:11 pm »
- The Training Simulator would continue passively training soldiers, slowly raising their skills whether the player initiates any training missions or not.
As an addendum to this, one easy way to address the concern of creating super-soldiers by just leaving them in the training simulators is to have solders gain "shadow EXP" in actual missions by some mechanism, the simplest probably just being some additional fraction of all EXP gained in a mission. This could either be divided up per-skill/attribute or, if you wanted to give players more flexibility, it could all just go into a lump pool.

Then the Training Simulator (passive version). The player stations soldiers in the training simulator, which converts some amount of "shadow EXP" into real EXP per hour/time unit (details may vary—could be across all skills/abilities, could be across some finite number chosen by some method, or in the one-pool case the player could choose where the points are getting distributed to). You could optionally include some probably agonizingly slow gain of EXP regardless of "shadow EXP" amounts or expenditure, but that's really optional IMO.

As a result, soldiers need to go on real missions to get serious use of the training simulator, but you can still trade time for soldier growth.


Feature Requests / Re: fuck realism, dont kill ma soldier ;)
« on: January 30, 2011, 09:37:26 pm »
Engaging in a little thread necromancy, because I don't think the issue with the current design came across clearly:

Regarding 1, Keep in mind the aliens have even more advanced technology - If a blast of plasma takes a soldier's head off, I'm sorry, that character will die.
It's a gameplay issue. Right now, you either savescum/restartscum or simply accept that you're going to take big hits pretty much at random (due to losing experienced units or supersoldiers)—your only choices for risk mitigation are either incredibly conservative play (since you can't even effectively use Reaction Fire to reliably cover corners, you really need to have most of your forces prepared to engage anything around a corner in this turn before you poke your head around it, and ensure that nothing that could be there can move and then target you) or making sure you always have a low-quality soldier on hand to act as bait and draw fire.

So really, you either eat large and random penalties by occasionally losing a high-experience soldier, or you restart the mission every time someone dies. Quite simply, neither option is fun.

Now, I can get behind the idea that sticking out your neck, or even simply the occasional bad luck, should have consequences—but those consequences should be mitigable. It should involve some kind of sacrifice, but it should be available as an option, possibly multiple options.

The most straightforward approach I can think of would be to add a "dying" status which stretches between something like zero and negative max health. Each turn they lose some health; either a fixed amount or a fixed fraction of their max health. Medkits can't restore health to a dying unit, but may be used to stabilize them, ending the HP loss. If a unit is in Dying status but still alive when combat ends, the unit is assumed to have been successfully stabilized after combat.

With something like this, instead of deciding "do I lose the unit forever or do I restart the mission", a player has the opportunity to accept a tactical disadvantage (needing to reach the dying unit with a medkit-carrying soldier in time to stabilize him before he bleeds out), or to take a very deliberate risk of losing the unit by attempting to complete the mission before the dying unit bleeds out. Even if the unit survives there's still a medium-duration penalty, since the inability to heal dying units with medkits guarantees a hospital stay at least long enough to bring them back into positive Health. Units getting sent into Dying status is still something worth being avoided, but it's no longer a permanent, unavoidable loss. End result, IMO, is people restarting missions less—which really sounds like it's more in line with developer goals, what with the FAQ answer on in-battlescape saving.


Mac / Re: Game does not start at all
« on: January 29, 2011, 10:38:19 pm »
I had this same issue, but was able to semi-fix it (compiling from HEAD) by editing to remove -F/opt/local/Library/Frameworks from CFLAGS and LDFLAGS (lines 12 and 30) and add -I flags for the actual locations of the SDL framework headers under /Library/Frameworks; my guess is that it's being assumed that the SDL frameworks are being installed via macports, while mine are from the Mac installer.

I say semi-fix because it still doesn't work properly, possibly because my fix is incorrect (the app bundle built with make macinstaller is wrong about the locations of basically all of the frameworks it bundles and is thus effectively unlaunchable, while invoking the non-bundled binary from the command line launches but sits forever when the initial loading progress bar fills), but I've at least been able to make the error message in question disappear.


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