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Topics - Rodmar

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Artwork / Minor correction ideas for PHALANX existing crafts
« on: December 05, 2016, 09:59:57 pm »

For now, PHALANX aircrafts seem to each have two UI models, one when at base ("atB"), and one when in flight ("inF"), except that... not all of them. In case it's not known by the team, I review them here.
Secondly, one of those models is displayed as the "Big Picture" of the corresponding UFOpaedia entry. Should it be the "atB" or the "inF" model?
Stiletto and Saracen are okay.

  • Firebird
    • "atB" model features opened lateral doors, horizontal nozzles, and no land gear.
      - I don't know if such a craft should at least have landing pods to absorb the landing shock, a little like landing skis for polar crafts, except that they could retract a lot and be barely visible once the landing in over.
      - Also, if the Firebird is deemed to be ready to take off, should its four nozzle be oriented vertically?
    • "inF" model looks okay, but we could have 3-4 plates (or traps) on its otherwise green, bland, flat belly, that would represent its landing pods (just as with the other planes).
  • Dragon
    • "atB" model features a triangle land gear, but the rear traps look somewhat weird because they are at the exact engines' locations.
    • "inF" model confirms they are meant to be land gear traps because when the land gear is retracted, the traps disappear! I'd suggest to either get rid of this traps in any case, or we could have these "traps" still visible while in flight, because they wouldn't be land gear traps and would help keeping the engines in place (like claws).
    • Moreover, UFOpaedia tells us that the Dragon was named for its characteristic central "mouth", were are packed its heavy weapon bays. It's not so visible on the model. I know that we can't draw an actual weapon system (because we don't know if it's mounted or not), but we could at least have a kind of a huge, dark, evocative "air intake". Also, the "prongs" of the hull seems to be very bent inward for a plane that is "spitting" its payload fom its mouth. I mean that I'm not sure that a missile could pass through the narrow gap between the prongs. Perhaps  the inner edge of the prongs could be more straight.
  • Starchaser
    • "atB" model and "inF" model look the same (as it seems, a model is lacking).
    • "atB" model could have land gear traps opened, and the wings' tips more vertical (like with some naval planes).
    • "inF" model could have the land gear retracted, and the wings' tips more horizontal.
    • Lastly, we can see several traps under its belly. I figure that they are for the weapon bays and the land gear, but it's not clear what is what.
  • Raptor
    • It's not clear that there are 4 engines, because the tail seems to hold a fifth engine. Isn't it a rear windscreen/cockpit, instead?
    • "atB" model could have the two bi-engines oriented vertically, ready to take off. It could also feature an open bottom trap (the large one we see closed). All the other transports have their doors open when at base.
    • Lastly, it looks like on the equip screen, the hull background picture is inverted: the weapons point to the right, as usual, but that means that they point backwards. Either the hull picture is flipped and we get the same disposal as with the other fighters, or the picture is flipped _and_ the laser canon is still mounted under  (or over) the tail section, to add some originality (?).
  • Stingray
    • "atB" model lacks an inner surface. It's visible when we you look from below: one of the land gear chambers is not drawn and we see the inside of the hull (in blue on the screenshot). Also, perhaps, the nozzles could be slightly turned downward.

- at base Firebird : no land pads/pods, horizontal nozzles
- in flight Firebird : no land pads traps.
- at base Dragon : weird traps
- in flight Dragon : no more traps

Discussion / The green smoke waving around
« on: November 22, 2016, 12:02:59 am »

Before I post a bug report, I'd like to know if the following text that is displayed in red on some crashed UFO maps (Gunship, at least) when a soldier comes too close to the engines, is correctly translated in other languages in version 2.6.
In v2.5, this string can't be found in the .po file.

"The green smoke waving around this damaged alien propulsion device looks suspecious. Maybe  you should avoid getting to close there."

Btw, "suspecious" could be corrected.

FAQ / How to submit text modifications?
« on: October 16, 2016, 11:58:07 am »

Having reviewed UFOpaedia French translation, thus having appreciated the English text from an outsider's point of view, I'd have modification suggestions for a few .po English entries (v2.5 file), either typo corrections, disambiguation, tech/sci developments or corrections, or more lore-related proposals (mainly about self-consistency).

I intend to suggest them all as a feature request on Bugtracker, and I'd like to know what would be the best format for the joint file:
  • a special .po file with all corresponding entries marked as "dubious translations" (bold, yellow, easy to sort out text), full suggested English text in place of the translated text, and a short comment to give some reason why the proposals;
  • a text file with only MSGID#, '--' line, '++' line, and a short reason why;
  • a spreadsheet with 4 columns ans same infos as above.
  • no need for a feature request on Bugtracker, just report them on the forum.

I guess that first format would allow for fast copy and paste but the suggested modification could be "lost" in the middle of an otherwise untouched long text.

Of course, if typos are fast to be checked and corrected, some other proposals should imply some decision process from the Team. Also, the proposals are not intended to be adopted as a whole; as they are only suggestions, the purpose of them is more to trigger a reflexion about the English text than to teach the truth.

Feature Requests / Variable civilian death toll impact
« on: August 30, 2016, 12:31:32 pm »

This feature request is twofold (gameplay on v2.5).
It's about how desirable some missions would be more or less populated by civilians, and the civilians considered more or less as "expandable", depending on the very circumstances of given ground mission.
This topic is closely related to another, that of having a more detailed pre-briefing/loading ground mission screen.
It's then about how to make the civilian death toll at the end of the mission count for more, less or nothing, when player returns to the battlescape (including, perhaps, death by friendly fire).

  • What's a variable civilian death toll impact, and what for:
    • It's already the case that the civilian population depends on the localization on the geoscape, based on a density of population world map.
    • Perhaps, the number could be adjusted based on the map proper (already the case, too?), and on the Alien mission type (or circumstances of the UFO's landing): recon (landed), harvest (landed), terror (landed), any (crashed), deserted suburbs, crowded city center, etc.
    • Currently (v2.5) I don't feel like letting many civilian dying is very punishing anyways, on difficult settings, provided any ground mission is played and won, any detected Alien base is stormed as soon as possible, and most of the UFOs are shot down... though I remember a critical time window around month 2-4 (when I couldn't shot down any UFO and had to use the SAM array trick). Perhaps the game makes a difference between any survivors and no survivor, instead of considering the death toll?
    • As it seems, the game is scheduled to evolve towards a more refined tactical gameplay, such as more diverse mission objectives (not only: Kill all the Aliens), added, "AI" teams during ground missions (e.g. Civilians, Local forces), and even perhaps some fancy features like static "corpses" to add to the thrilling atmosphere.
    • Furthermore, I'm currently giving a try at writing some mission pre-briefing short texts, even if we get to know how maps are like after several hours in the campaign (it's mainly to add to the atmosphere).
    • Then I wonder if the civilian death toll impact on PHALANX diplomacy should be made variable, and the player duly notified on the pre-briefing/loading screen. For instance, saving as much as possible the eventual trekkers around a campfire on a deserted forest crash mission should not be as important as saving as much as possible the urban dwellers targeted by a terror mission.
    • We could extend this "tolerance" to the impact of friendly fire by PHALANX, given some circumstances. After all, while I won't comment, friendly fire occurs on nearly every bombing mission in the irl Middle Eastern operations. At least, there could be a difference between a friendly fire with LOS or without LOS, or through direct or indirect fire (even if those tolerance rules could be well abused by a human player, such as when he can't see a civilian but heavily suspect his presence behind a wall).
    • The game could even be more subtle and varied, with a pre-briefing text, mission (sub-)objectives, and civilian (and other teams) population based on a random factor, on top of the localization, map, and Alien mission type/grounding circumstances (crashed, landed, terrestrial). That is, for any localization/map/mission set, one mission occurrence could have more civilians and a more stressed demand to save them all, while another occurrence could have less civilians and less or no demand on them. For example, the High Rise (big tower) map pre-briefing text could well say that the Alien have already killed most of the trapped workers in the offices, "cleaning" the tower from 1st floor up, and contained by local forces slowly following them with heavy losses, and that PHALANX must now destroy them while they are in the last, top three floors, all remaining souls deemed already lost. On the other hand, the next High Rise map (a terror mission?) could stress on the fact that all the VIP of this well know corporate have gathered on the last floors and that PHALANX has to exfiltrate them with as less as casualties as possible.
  • Some thoughts about how having such variable civilian death toll impact:
    I wonder if the way the civilian death toll or number is currently handled during and after a ground mission could/should be modified right "now" (v2.6?) for the sole purpose of preparing the above implementation suggestions, should they eventually become a game feature, later. Other said, is current implementation ready (or could be made ready with "little" extra work) for varied mission objectives (and pre-briefings/tolerances). What should be made if not the case?
    • How mission parameters are passed on the Battlescape module, before map/mission generation, and how mission data are passed on the Geoscape module in return.
    • How having a modular civilian number. Currently, I think that the min-max range is read in one .ufo file (map properties, the map being chosen according to the location on Earth). It then should be associated to other file readings (mission types) (or otherwise preset ranges), and another, final random roll, and closely linked to the pre-briefing text generation, if any (in case the pre-briefing text is not fixed as a map property, see above). Perhaps the engine is limited by a max number of actors on a given size map?
    • How to assign a weighting factor to any generated mission, to be applied when leaving the Battlescape module. This factor would be applied to the civilian death toll or number before diplomacy impact computation (range: 0.1-1.0, with 1.0 possibly more punishing than current setting).
    • How to assign a likewise weighting factor to a mission, to be applied to any non-PHALANX friendly fire number, before it's added for good to the soldier's stats. This factor is necessary as I figure that the Battlescape engine can't simply handle those LOS or indirect fire test before assessing a friendly fire. Perhaps I'm wrong. This factor would be binary: either 0 (friendly fire not accounted for) or 1 (as currently).

Design / Alien Teams
« on: August 20, 2016, 02:47:31 pm »
Hello, this topic follows on another one where I questionned on last year the alien team generation as guessed by reading the .ufo files.
This is sketched at
One year later, here are my feedback, and a refined proposal.

There are already several Alien equipment categories: workers and soldiers, several Alien mission types and teams, and several Alien units (Taman, Taman light, Taman armoured...), all of them depending on the alien_interest variable, i.e. the campaign advancement.
However, for any given alien_interest, mission type, and UFO, we end with:
  • only one category (either workers or soldiers, not both);
  • a random number of any possible species as written in the .ufo files (e.g. a nearly all-biological or all-robotic team);
  • some early units are dismissed from mid-game on: Bloodspiders (BS) and Hovernet (HN);
  • one species, the weakest but presumably the most psi-capable (?) doesn't seem to be necessary anymore when terror, XVI, harvest and assault missions are scheduled;

The ideas developped thereafter are:
  • the crews of the UFOs are increased, quite reallisticaly in order for the alien mission to have any chance to be conducted;
  • the larger crews have a (greater?) chance to be lessened due to a crash: there would be a greater difference between a crashed UFO mission and a Terror mission, for instance, leading to strategical choices (to shoot down an UFO or to wait?);
  • through we'd need several alien teams for an automated spawning system (a team spawned in town, another one around the UFO, another one inside it), as I don't know the engine limitations here, all that follows has but one goal: to generates only one alien team that is manually spawned by the mapper;
  • the randomness is quite kept, but without impacting realism;
  • each alien unit has a goal throughout the game: a gunship would not be piloted by an Ortnok in heavy armour;
  • once a more complex system has been developped, alien teams, thus battlescape mission may become very diverse and tailored.

The mean used here is to generate the final alien team through a modular system and the sum of several (1-3) components or sub-teams, each depending on the alien_interest, and each having specific spawning points (if possible during map design/generation):
In short,                            alienTeam = teamCrew + teamMission + teamDefense

  • teamCrew: the crew assignated to the UFO when performing an athmospheric flight. It's always the same whatever the mission, basically pilots, navigators, techs, gunners. One could have versatile crews that act both while in the air, and on the ground, but we can figure that the Ennemy's behaviour is more specialized and stereotyped, thus separating the actual crew from the team needed to conduct the mission (especially for ground missions). A crew would usually stand in or by the craft, ready to take off (if not automated), and this could lead to some interesting map missions (to storm a large UFO while only defending against outside Aliens).
    However, the UFO's crew should include any mission team member who are not deemed to leave the UFO, in order to make it easier for the mappers to place the spawning points (?). I mean that in any mission, a Corrupter would have presumably more Tamans than a Harvester, but those Tamans would not be running at civilians, and rather staying in the Corrupter's wing housings. Such Tamans (not really needed to fly) could be included in a Corrupter's crew, an not in the XVI mission team (presumably spawned outside of the UFO).
  • teamMission: the team that is likely to conduct the mission on the map when everything's gone good for the Aliens. They are mostly deployed outside of the UFO, often far from it, or as sentry around it.
  • teamDefense: a special guard team, mostly robotic and always soldiers, that is only there in case the UFO is assaulted while landed, or has land crashed, and its crew is not potent enough to defend itself. This would ensure that a valuable UFO is no more abandonned by its defenders, and that a house-large UFO get more defenders than currently, without necessarily implying that a given mission would be conducted by a large number of ennemies (balance concern).
    All in all, that would mean that the Alien team on the map would depend on the UFO's status (far away, landed, crashed), and the mission type, allowing for more diversity in game. Also, the player would experience a kind of "endurance" concern (no more large map won with one ammo clip per soldier, durability of the medikit), but the fact the alien team is now fragmented in two or three prevents the player to be overwhelmed during the first turns (whereas the number of enemies has increased).
    An added benefit (?) would be to increase the number of ennemies on the map without necessarily increasing the time needed to win the mission, because of (possibly) new mission alternative objectives, such as:
    - to clean a map but the UFO from any hostiles (and waiting for an aerial strike to finish the UFO off)(thus saving any civilians still alive);
    - to storm an UFO (to prevent it from taking off) while leaving the Alien survivors still outside to the local forces.

1/ A quick remember of current (v2.5) state:

Current appearance order and team strength (approximative data because I took them from this forum and not the game files, sorry):
  • Beginning: 1st month; alien_interest 20-49: Scout, Fighter(50?), 3-4 Tamans / BS
  • Early game: 2nd-6th month; alien_interest 50-199: Scout, Fighter(50?), Harvester(80), 4-8 Tamans / BS / HN(50) / Shevaars(80) / Armoured Tamans(110)
  • Mid-game: 7th-10th month; alien_interest 200-309: Alien Base, Scout, Fighter, Harvester, Supply(200), Corrupter(200), 4-12 Tamans / Shevaars / Armoured Tamans/CBS(200) / (Breeder(200)) / Ortnok(250) / CHN(280)
  • Late game: 11th-13th month; alien_interest 310-399: Alien Base, Fighter, Supply, Gunboat(310), Bomber(310), ..., 6-18 Shevaars / Armoured Tamans / CBS / Ortnoks / CHN / (Breeder) / Armoured Ortnoks(310) / (Alien Tank(310))  Particle weapons
I remember that there's a last stage "Finale" that would run from 400 to 10000.

2/ UFO's crews:

teamCrew is declinated as many times as there are Alien assets (UFOs and bases) and alien_interest categories (let's say 5 as for now).

Developping assets, such as bases on Earth may be described as several assets depending on their size.
Largest assets, such as battleships, motherships, etc, may be described as several assets, each one for the corresponding map (in case other assets can't be reused).

This crew don't usually leave the asset, except it's a crashed UFO. Perhaps one unit would spawn in the hold near the exit and ready to look outside.


teamCrew_scout(alien_interest=1) = 1 Taman
teamCrew_scout(alien_interest=2) = 1-2 Taman
teamCrew_scout(alien_interest=3-5) = 1 Taman + 1 Shevaar
For all the early UFOs, Tamans tend to be replaced by Shevaars: perhaps they are less "costly", but this could impact the "smartness" of any non-linked ground team.
teamCrew_corrupter(alien_interest=4) = 4 Tamans + 2 Shevaars
Note that 2 of them are actually "medics" in each wing.
teamCrew_gunship(alien_interest=4-5) = 1 Taman + 2 Shevaars + 1 Ortnok
(2 in the cockpit, one on the upper deck, one in the hold; they could be even less given there might be a Defense team as well)

Of course, anybody could argue that such a tiny UFO should be manned by but one unit. Why not. It's fully tweakable and reallistic.
Note that there are no Ortnok, to heavy and to unfit, and no robotic units, totally useless to man an UFO.

3/ Mission teams:

teamMission is declinated as many times as there are mission (sub-)types (scheduled missions) and alien_interest categories.

teamMission_scoutingAerial "flying-by scouting at medium to high altitude"
teamMission_scoutingRemote "ground robotic exploration with no landing craft"
teamMission_scoutingLand "non-remote ground scouting"

Note that as Hovernets (HN) are not encountered at the beginning, only aerial and "no-return" land recons are possible at this time.
The second type would then be the only one conducted with early, smallest craft such as Scouts and Fighters, because they are not deemed to land (and take off).
They would hover near their target and launch Hovernets. Later, they would retrieve them and return to orbit. Thus, this mission wouldn't have any UFO to retrieve.
The later type would be of no use with a non-land-and-take-off-able (and not com-linked) craft. It could be used by early Harvesters, and Gunships, however. But we can figure that an automated Harvester is scheduled to exfiltrate the scouting party when mission is over.
Their goal would be to precisely assess a position, to retrieve materials or specific objects, etc.
All of this becomes non-pertinent if Scouts and/or Fighter have a VTOL or a very low altitude hovering capability (such as a chopper without a landing gear), enabling them to drop and retrieve non flying units.

teamMission_escortSmall "Fighter"
teamMission_escortMedium "Gunship"
teamMission_escortLarge ???

These types would include any non-ground mission, such as bombing run on Phalanx assets, and aerial retaliation. There are a mean to tailor the size and composition of the Alien team found on a map when such UFOs are shot down.

teamMission_terrorSmall "terror against civilians with a small craft"
teamMission_terrorCiv "terror against civilians"
teamMission_terrorMil "terror against local forces" (or team_mission_retaliation?)

The first one would only occur whenever a Fighter is used for first Terror mission.
The later replacing the second as alien_interest increases and it becomes frequent that any terror mission is opposed by PHALANX forces, and this would trigger an additionnal memo.
"terrorMil" could be the only mission conducted by a Bomber, except in the first encounters, when they only bombing run (and gunning) strategic targets (thanks to their superior ordinance), hence the name they are given.

teamMission_harvestBiomass "to collect biomass, anyhow"
teamMission_harvestBodies "to collect human (dead) bodies"

The later replacing the former as alien_interest increases, and triggering an additionnal memo. The need for full bodies means more Ortnoks (to handle them) and less BS.
No Combat Hovernet (CHN) for the harvest task, as heavy plasmas aren't quite compatible with fresh biomass.
The harvest team should have non-bleeding, non-plasma, and non-heavy weapons, rather incapaciting weapons, to not spill the biomass and organic fluids.
Remember that there should be a Defense team near/inside the Harvester too, to fry any opposition.


Those missions would obviously result in Alien base fundation, Alien base development (growth), Alien base reinforcement, and Alien base/Local allies supply, respectively.
Payload would be workers for the first ones, Soldiers and Breeders for "Manpower", given that a payload of workers would still correspond to "Building" even if the base is built already.
The last one would need only a few handlers (mostly Ortnoks) but could host robots, and even a tank. Possibly, the value of the captured craft could depend on the mission as well (more alien materials?).

teamMission_xviMass "to infect a large number of civilians, without any selection"
teamMission_xviVip "to infect a few high-ranking, highly influent, VIP humans"

Both types would be conducted until the end of game, the later one triggering an additionnal memo when it becomes evident that the Ennemy is able to target VIP for a purpose.
The difference would be that "xivVIP" would have more soldiers to deal with the VIP guards, and more "ninjas" to infiltrate a small bastion; maps would be specific (Mansion, Villa, UNO base, ...).

teamMission_baseAttackSmall or teamMission_baseAttack1
teamMission_baseAttackMedium or teamMission_baseAttack2
teamMission_baseAttackLarge or teamMission_baseAttack3

The first base attack could be operated through a "suicide" Fighter mission (as it seems possible in v2.5) that would "crash" land right amidst the targeted PHALANX base's buildings.
Hence, attack team would be rather small.
Next base attack would be conducted by medium class UFOs such as Harvesters, then Gunships.
In late game, base attack UFOs would shift to Bombers.
Also, to emulate a multiple waves assault, there could be several chained baseAttack maps with different-size alien teams.
Moreover, these missions could be used on certain maps where PHALANX has to rescue a stormed UNO or local military base.


There could be several mission sub-types depending on the size of the alien base, if there's no other mean to render this.
Also, this would help in designing staged maps such as alienBase_entrance and alienBase_innerBase.


This mission is used when the UFO (or a localized ground convoy) hosts an embassy, presumably a linked or numerous party.


teamMission_scoutingRemote(alien_interest=1) = N/A (no Hovernet at AI=1, and BS would be useless for that purpose)
teamMission_scoutingRemote(alien_interest=2) = 1 Shevaar + 2-3 HN ?
teamMission_scoutingRemote(alien_interest=3) = 1 Shevaar + 3 HN + 0-1 CHN ?
This is to stress that the "controler" should be rather included in the UFO's crew, because he's not deemed to land (Scout, Fighter).
teamMission_scoutingLand(alien_interest=4) = 1 Taman + 2 Shevaars + 3 HN + 1 CHN
teamMission_scoutingLand(alien_interest=5) = 2 Tamans + 2 Shevaars + 3 HN + 1 CHN
teamMission_terrorSmall(alien_interest=2) = 2 Tamans + 1-2 Shevaars + 2 HN + 2 BS
teamMission_terrorSmall(alien_interest=3) = 1 Taman + 2-3 Shevaars + 1 Ortnok + 2-4 HN + 0-1 CHN + 1-2 BS + 0-1 CBS
In such a "non-return" terror mission conducted by a Fighter UFO, total crew could exceed 6 : the units are simply packed together inside.

4/ Defense teams:

This allows for mixing soldiers with otherwise workers inside the UFO.
Those specialized teams are only there in case the asset is assaulted, and the normal crew (e.g. the only gunner) is not enough to defend it.
I'd see them too like "life buoys" as when a scout is shot down, and is considered as valuable enough (sensible data?) to be defended if this situation occurs.
They don't usually man the craft, nor venture outsides.
Note that the provided numbers depending on alien_interest are quite fantasist as I didn't check up the real triggers appearing in the .ufo files (e.g. when given missions, UFOs, Heavy Tamans, Ortnoks or CBS start to appear, ...).

teamDefense_none(alien_interest) "2 HN at most for aerial recon/decoy, and for scouting a crash site"
teamDefense_small(alien_interest) "Scouts, Fighters, and possibly Supply Ships, all disposable crafts"
teamDefense_medium(alien_interest) "Harvester, Corrupters, Gunships, and possibly Supply Ships, all valuable crafts"
teamDefense_large(alien_interest) "Bomber, Ripper, Battleship?"
For small crafts, only robots are assigned as the hold is most probably already crowded, and they may be carried outside.
The later is used if required through it may be redundant with "teamMission_baseDefense".


teamDefense_medium(alien_interest=5) = 2 Shevaars + 1 Ortnok + 2-4 HN + 4 CHN + 2-4 CBS

5/ Forming the final Alien team:

During the mission generation, all the teams are summed up.

As for the relation between assets (UFOs) and mission (sub-)types, we'd get:

Scouts -> teamMission_scoutingAerial teamMission_scoutingRemote teamMission_scoutingLand
Fighters -> teamMission_scoutingAerial teamMission_scoutingRemote teamMission_scoutingLand teamMission_escortSmall teamMission_terrorSmall teamMission_baseAttackSmall
Harvesters ->  teamMission_scoutingLand teamMission_escortMedium teamMission_terrorCiv teamMission_harvestBiomass teamMission_harvestBodies teamMission_baseAttackMedium teamMission_diplomacy
Supply Ships -> teamMission_supplyFundation teamMission_supplyBuilding teamMission_supplyManpower teamMission_supplySupplies teamMission_diplomacy
Corrupters -> teamMission_escortMedium teamMission_terrorCiv teamMission_terrorMil teamMission_xviMass teamMission_xviVip teamMission_diplomacy
Gunships -> teamMission_scoutingAerial teamMission_scoutingLand teamMission_escortMedium teamMission_terrorCiv teamMission_terrorMil teamMission_baseAttackMedium
Bombers ->  teamMission_escortLarge teamMission_terrorMil teamMission_baseAttackLarge


A Corrupter is sent to perform a XVI mission on Earth during mid-game:

teamCrew_corrupter(3) = 3 Tamans + 2 Shevaars
teamMission_xviMass(3) = 3-4 Shevaars + 2-3 Ortnoks + 1-2 HN + 1 CHN + 2 BS
teamDefense_medium(3) = 1 Shevaar + 0-1 Ortnok + 2-4 HN + 2 CHN + 0-1 BS
Total Crew: 3 T 6-7 S 2-4 O 3-6 HN 3 CHN 2-3 BS / 11-14 bio-units (for an AI level of circa 14 if com-link is destroyed), 8-12 robots
of which: 5-7 Aliens & 4-5 robots are spawned throughout the map, 5 Alien "workers" stay in the landed UFO or hide in nearby cover if a crash, and 1-2 Alien "soldiers" & 4-7 robots are spawned in the lower bridge or around the UFO, to guard it.

This illustrate both how the team could be tailored (by tweaking the spreadsheet which those figures come from), and that there's some work before something satisfactory comes out, for any combination of alien_interest/asset/mission.
This isn't necessary to have three different alien teams, but the spawning locations or areas should be different for each team component (crew, mission, defense).

Design / "Zoe", Alien AI levels, and the campaign
« on: August 07, 2016, 12:59:08 pm »
Hello, let's talk about "Zoe", our real foe in game.

1 Based from v2.5 infos (UFOpaedia), we may infer that:

- Zoe's intelligence and battle awareness depends on its size. A size of 10 roughly correspond to a human intelligence.
- When Zoe is held inside a PHALANX base, it's alone, and not very smart.
- A small zoe doesn't seem to know other zoes may exist. It exists and that's all.
- Small UFO have no apparent communication systems, and aren't meant to land on Earth.
- Alien Bases contain a device called a Psi Amp for a purpose.
- Zoe seems to be able to partly use past memories when it focuses on a host; on the other hand, a non focused on host looks like zombified.
- Likewise, a formerly member of Zoe may be left into a helpless state (catatonic), especially if it spent all its life inside Zoe, as guessed by Doc. Connor.

2 Now, we have a few inconsistencies, AFAIK:

- How the small crew of a small crashed UFO manage to oppose coordinated resistance to PHALANX S&D teams whereas the same amount of aliens stay passive when prisoner?
- How the large crew of an alien base or a large, landed UFO may suffer morale checks whereas a Psi Amp could (presumably) link them to a greater Zoe? To a very large Zoe, one killed member should count for naught.

3 Extrapolating a little:

Zoe's smartness and awareness grows logarithmically with its number. We can use different AI levels to represent this.
Depending on the number, AI level would be:
1:     animal -> catatonic state, self-defense if threatened (mostly returning fire and throwing things), non-coordinated moves.
2-3:   beasty/child -> catatonic/berserk behavior, self-defense if a potential threat is detected, coordinated moves.
4-10:  sub-human -> possible morale effect, coordinated moves, simple task handled in team (kill, gather, defend).
11-30: human-like -> no morale effect, coordinated tactics (e.g. go to target location), use of any weapons at hand.
31-100:super-human -> more AI "cheating" as currently: more TU? Improved reaction fire? See-through or short range detection, etc.

A single Alien which is separated from Zoe is left in a "childish", catatonic state of awareness and smartness, because all its life was within Zoe and it doesn't have any personnal memories and experience.
A separated Human should not be left in such of zombi state, rather returning to its pre-Zoe life, and loosing any memories and experience while inside Zoe. That would help detecting infiltrated Humans if a severing mechanism may be found. Infected Humans are still detected through XIV test.

4 Zoe's extension in space:

Generally speaking, the largest Zoe is, the longer distance one of its members can go without leaving it.
However, there's a distance where the link between Zoe and the member is lost. The member becomes helpless (AI level = 1), and may be assimilated by any other zoe it may cross the way.
Mighty Zoe has devised com-links between spacecrafts that enable much larger distance between members (crafts).
Also, the Psi-Amp found in Alien Bases on Earth enable the base to be linked to some orbital or extra-orbital relay, and to hold a grasp onto any members on Earth, a few hundred kilometers around.

5 Division and assimilation(growth):

Zoe is able to lose parts of it, and to grow by assimilating (intelligent) life forms. In order to be assimilated into Zoe, a life form must first be infected by Zoe or by a cousin (former part of it).
Life forms into Zoe may be controlled quite well if Zoe is large. Their brain is used more efficiently than Nature does. A large Zoe knows how to use its members most efficiently, using the nimble for agile tasks, the strong for demanding tasks, the smart as computers and memory banks.
Indeed, a Taman could count as 2 Shevaars/Ortnoks/Humans to estimate Zoe's strength.
When Zoe loses members, it virtually loses only strength, so that the loss may be neglectible. An exception is when the lost members had been severed from Zoe for a while, and thus didn't had time to be re-assimilated and to share any new data they might have collected in the meanwhile.
Even so, it's doubtful that any Zoe would engage SAR missions to retrieve the surviving crew of a crashed UFO. They are quite worthless.

Division procedure:
Division of Zoe in two parts may occur either voluntary or involuntary.
Involuntary division happens when a Psi Amp is neutralized, and a part is isolated from the other (this may happen when an Alien Base is assaulted, or sometimes when a large vessel has crash landed), or the distance between the parts becomes accidentally large (such as when prisonners are brought inside a PHALANX base).
Voluntary division happens when Zoe send a craft or even a squadron on a course that lead them out of its range. It should be the case for any small UFO, and some early or desperate "no-return" assault missions.

Assimilation procedure:
Two zoes can't exist next to each other. As soon as range allows, the largest start assimilating the smallest, and the smallest won't try and defend itself (perhaps, it "knows" what is good for it).
Assimilation depends on the relative strength of both collectivities. The assimilated zoe ceases to exist as an entity as soon as the process is over. The assimilating zoe gains in size, plus all the memories and any experience from the assimilated one.
When powerful enough, Zoe is able to elaborate plans to test the capabilities and usefulness of new life forms (species) and the usefulness of given individuals from a well known species.
It's why, from the mid-game on, Zoe is able to target VIP on Earth and infect them, in hope to assimilate them later on.

6 Zoe and the UFOs:

At the beginning, UFOs are Scouts, Fighters, all crafts without any com systems nor psi links.
The crew is naturally separated from Zoe as it enters the athmospheare (or perhaps, before this happens).
Most of the mission is automated but Zoe in craft is potent enough to conduct routines and to react to new events such as departing from a scheduled course, fighting incoming Terran crafts, etc. It knows what "escort" means as well. Perhaps, there is a kind of briefing mechanism to educate it after the severing.
When mission is fulfilled or otherwise terminated, Zoe "knows" what to do, e.g. actionning a button that engages an automated return flight.
When the craft flies back to greater Zoe, it's re-assimilated and delivers all of its bio- and electronic-data.

We may consider that Supply Ships and Harvester work on the same principle, only that Zoe is large enough to have a kind of autonomy sufficient for the mission's purpose. A Supply Ship is a heavily automated craft anyways, but the crew knows what to do when it lands on a bare patch of land (to found a base).
Crew-size Zoe is able to conduct harvest missions because they are assisted by robotic units, and it's only a matter of killing and retrieving living things (or humans, specifically).
Even an early terror mission may be conducted by a disposable Zoe: the crew is educated to kill as much as possible and to defend itself. The UFO could have a count down mechanism that triggers an automated take-off and return (that never happens in game, save with certain ground missions without UFO?).

Corrupters, Bombers, and even Gunships, on the other hand are valuable and large enough to have kind of a com-link, a special point-to-point psi-amp indeed, that prevents the crew to be separated from greater Zoe. When the UFO lands on Earth, the link still ensures that Zoe is at its full potency (to the demise of any PHALANX team).
However, crashed UFOs have a chance to have the com-link unit destroyed, so that Zoe on Earth is barely more potent than a smaller UFO's crew.

As for the Alien Base, the Psi-Amp room serves not only as a point-to-point, long range link to keep contact with greater Zoe, but as a surface broadcast, medium range link that enable Zoe to control ground forces all around the base (up to several dozens of kilometers or several hundreds?), either Alien teams from the base, or Human XIVs.
During a base attack, PHALANX team is able to disable the Psi-Room device when they occupy the room for several turns (e.g. winning the mission). There is no point to go on fighting the surviving base defenders because, perhaps, PHALANX learned how to use the Psi-Amp to incapacitate nearby small Zoe.

7 Zoe and the Humans:

A Human must be infected before it can be assimilated into Zoe.
Infection takes a few days with a primo-reaction akin to a flux, due to our immunity system.
To keep infected Humans into it, Zoe needs either a nearby landed, linked UFO, or an operationnal Alien base. Of course, other infected Humans may be part of this chain of influence.
Humans focused on by Zoe may behave quite the same as the non infected ones. However, as with the Aliens, whenever Zoe doesn't focus anymore on them, they perform only routine tasks and may look strange to relatives (colleagues, familly, friends).
Zoe is perfectly able to use many members at the same time, but it needs to focus on them for this to happen, a little like sea anemones would violently react at each stimulation, retracting one or several "arms", and would otherwise let their "arms" passively feed from whatever floats in the water.

8 Consequences and suggestions in game:

- Alien Containment: memos and research proposals by Doc Connor, each time a AI level is reached (e.g. at 1, 2, 4, 11... 31?). Currently, there are only 3 stages (?), and beyond 10 prisonners, it isn't worth capturing more Aliens.
- Battle Debriefings: memos by Col. Falkland or the TACOPS, to recall how the Aliens' behaviour changed during the battles when their number shrinks. Also the unexplained difference in the enemy tactics between a landed crew, and a crashed crew from a medium-size UFO.
- UFO Com-link: add in the post-research report that an unknown, yet clearly separated unit is found in the Corrupter, the Gunship , and the Bomber. Perhaps, delaying its understanding (after proper research) until the first Alien Base Psi Amp is retrieved.
- Ground Missions: the game is able to dynamically adjust Alien AI level, depending on the size of surviving Zoe. This allows for finishing maps faster(?).
- Morale effects: Aliens are no subject to morale effects the same way as Humans are. If the smallest zoe would hardly strive to control its hosts and occasionnal morale effects could randomly occur because of this (only with Aliens), greater ones would be impervious to this, and the loss of one or several members shouldn't have any consequences, besides reducing the overall strength, hence the AI level..
Perhaps, a kind of sideration could be achieved when a member is severely wounded (or stunned?): Zoe would briefly (one turn) loose its grasp (contact) and a morale effect could occur as well.
- Alien Mind research: the research tree should be revisited a bit (to compile the overall behaviour of Zoe).
- XIV research: perhaps, Doc. Connor and teammates could devise a mean to temporarily disrupt Zoe inside a Human member (electric+chemical shock?) while still under range of influence, and see what happens. The electrolaser could be used for that purpose.
- Severed Alien crews are more important if mission objectives are more complex. No more terror mission with only two organic aliens and half a dozen of robots. 2 such aliens would be so unuseful, is severed.

Discussion / Heavy Weapons feedback and ideas (v2.5)
« on: August 01, 2016, 08:03:46 pm »
Being now in the end of July, 2085, on difficult setting, I should have finished the last research (stopped at 98%), and know what late game looks like (I still need to phase my fleet, with only 1 Stingray and 3 Starchasers right now).

Some heavy weapons are obviously cumbersome, but most of them are still held with one hand only, Two hands are only needed to shoot.

.30 cal MG:
Such a hand-held, lightweight weapon should be called a LMG, given irl current LMGs (c. 50 ammo clips) weight between 7 and 10 kg (unloaded, and with a bipod and a light barrel), or a multipurpose MG, a SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), even an automatic rifle (US soldiers with M249 are called Automatic Riflemen).
For instance, current unloaded 5.56mm M249 SAW weights 6,8 kg, 7.62mm NATO MK48 (derived from M249) weights 8 kg, and the 1958 7.62mm French FN-MAG weighted 11 kg.
Above roughly 10 kg, and with greater capacity clips or bands, we have support MMG (fired with bipod, and with heavy barrels). Even heavier, we have HMG, weighting more than 20 kg with tripod and load. This would be the case of the UGV HMG. The difference between these weapons are the size and weight of the bi/tripod or mount, the capacity of the ammo clip, and the size and weight of the barrel (a heavier barrel sustaining more shots before having to cool down or to be changed).

Bolter Rifle:
It's more a gun than a rifle in shape, takes a full backpack to be carried on, has a penetration power of 2 (as compared to the advanced sniper rifle which has 3), and deals more raw damage than any other sniper weapon with AM ammo. Thus you could say that it's still useful in late game, against less armored foes.
- I'd have it even more different than the Coilgun by making it a two-handed held weapon, like the RPG and flamethrower, and by changing the way it is handled by the actor on the battlefield: rather like a flamethrower than a rifle. Why? We could say it's so bulky that it can't be held on the shoulder. It could feature a 45° visor at which the soldier would look down from a foot away, and be used from a "waist" firing position. An aiming laser and active stabilizers around the barrel would ensure the target in the scope is properly aimed at, providing the shooter takes times to do so (i.e. uses the aimed shot fire mode). I mean that it wouldn't be a matter of lining up the eye, the visor and the muzzle.

Particle Beam Canon:
- in order to keep variety on the battlefield, as well as specialized crews, they should be reserved to Ortnoks and very strong Humans. Shevaars would be impaired when trying and using it, and would keep on with the PB Rifle instead (that means modifying the way weapons are attributed to a team).
- this HMG counterpart would have an auto strafe fire mode on top of the actual single shot and short burst fire modes.
But this would be at the cost of beam caliber. Current design features a twin huge barrel, and research report tells it's able to disintegrate a fist-large section of metal (that means that a four beams burst would cut a man in two). I think about a Rifle-like beam (half an inch large?) that would be deviated by EM lenses inside the now over-calibrated barrels (quite the same way a Plasma Blaster gets a Plasma Rifle fire mode (although not a charged one)). Strafe patterns would come into a horizontal fan, a vertical fan, and  a conical shape. Given the reduced power of each individual beam, a shot at point blank would roughly deal the same damage than the current Burst mode, only it would take longer to proceed. Note that unlike the HMG and Flamethrower, no actual strafing would be required, as the beam deviation would be done electromagnetically. Strafe angle would be less than HMG, circa 10° (hence a 20° arch of fire). Possibly, range could be less than PB Rifle's. Number of shots would be, say 8, and firing speed would be greater than the Burst's.
- on the other hand, I would abandon the current Unrestricted Blast, which I don't even understand the underlying physics. The .ufo file looks like this mode is an attempt to replace the Plasma Bomb of old, dealing an area of effect damage around the first hit obstacle (or target) at a long range? How a beam can explode or diverge in such a way? Or is this an unknown quantum effect like focusing high speed particles to create an infinitesimal fusion reaction that would irradiate in turn the surrounding?
- like the Bolter Rifle, only a Walker (or an UGV) could handle a PB Canon single handedly. Powered Armour would be just enough to use it two handedly (both holding and firing it).

Heavy Needler:
By the late game, basic needler has disappeared from alien arsenal. Heavy needlers are handled by Shevaars and Ortnoks alike.
- heavy needlers could be reserved to Ortnoks only.
- only heavy needler would have the Needle Stream fire mode. Currently, given they share the same ammo clip, the only difference is the number of needles that are spit out in a given fire mode, not the damage per impact. Oddly enough, the firing sounds are not the same!
- both needlers could have an added demoralizing effect, based on the number of impacts and not only the resulting damage taken, although I have no idea as to how to have it through modding the .ufo file. This feature, and the fact that a basic needler keeps being handy against civilians and unarmored troops in terror missions, and is quite lethal at point blank, would ensure basic needlers are still interesting for the alien player.

Plasma Blaster:
- let's tell that the charged plasma technology is the only one that may reach a medium range (like the Plasma Pistol and Plasma Rifle); then Plasma Blaster would have a single, non aimed shot the power of a rifle's (a charged bolt, not a continuous beam).
- the single continuous plasma beam would have a reduced range (as compared to the Rifle's bolt), no aim, but more raw power. I'd have a three-beam shot (like the current Burst mode) to reflect the longer shooting time and the greater power, with less dispersion than the current three-beam shot. Each beam would deal the same damage as a rifle bolt.
- the Plasma Ball is fine as it is.
- I'd add a fourth fire mode called "Incineration" that would be used to burn anything inside a small room. Physically, a mist of plasma would be spitted in a large cone in front of the weapon's muzzle dealing a low intensity plasma damage, and a field fire. It would be the alien counterpart to the Flamethrower. As I don't know how to describe a conic energy spray, I'd like to test an attack consisting in several 4-range, 3-radius, highly dispersive, plasma balls (only needle/shotgun sprays seem to be enable?). The field of fire would last less than an incendiary grenade (say 2 turns). Visual effect would be that of a plasma grenade (given there are no sprays).

What are your thoughts about those heavy weapons?

Feature Requests / Is there a pilot in the transport craft?
« on: August 01, 2016, 02:48:51 pm »
Some facts:
- the personal carriers are manned by one pilot inside a cockpit in the bow, who don't act during ground battle (except as some hidden radio relay).
- two of them have a light AA weapon mounted under the nose (either a Gattling gun or a laser turret after some research).
- in the novel,  the writer relates how a Firebird pilot can support its crew with its Gattling gun.

What if the carriers were more useful during tactical missions, besides providing some cover, but without unbalancing the game to much?

  • Battlefield Awareness:
    When present on  the map, the carrier would act as a sensor battery and relay informations to the soldier's HUD or helmet DSP.  Informations would come into the form of some small battlefield awareness enhancements, and for simplicity reasons, I'd see all of them as the current radar mode enhancements (short key 'R').
    - firstly, the pilot could see through the cockpit, just as any normal soldier.  Hence an invisible camera would be attached to the cockpit, facing forward. Eventually, this feature would be allowed for the non-piloted Herakles, provided a soldier stands on the two foremost inner squares.  This feature would be operationnal even outside the radar mode, of course.
    - a visual mode, compiling all the estimated coordinated of the visuals as emitted by the team (as the current radar mode, but only when the sensors are deployed, and not as an automatic feature);
    - an electromagnetic radiation mode, detecting all the EM radiation sources on the battlefield, a feature that would be added to the current radar mode. Radiation sources would be operated (carried) plasma weapons, particle beam weapons, robots, UFOs. As triangulation would not be possible, localizing a weapon bearer wouldn't be possible, but a complex algorithm would predict the number of energy weapons still in used on the battlefield (after deduction of the own PHALANX weapons, the known and studied UFO, any lab source nearby (declared by local authorities), etc.). The prediction wouldn't be precise though, and it would rather be a colored scale showing an estimated level of menace (with an error margin that would become smaller the more research on alien weaponry , power sources and UFO are made).
    - any squad commander could communicate to its (ai) teammates and allies (in multiplayer games) any dynamic info such as secured area, clear area, compromised/unknown area. There could be a crude, colored brush feature on the radar mode window, that would allow for drawing green/blue/red solid handmade areas or curves, as well as neutral (white) symbols or curves to display arrows, rendez-vous, etc. The colors would fade out on the next turn to show that the info is now obsolete (still remaining visible a few turns, though). This feature would have absolutely no impact on the gameplay, and would replace any (even cruder) pen and paper drawing in single player, and VoIP communication in multiplayer.
    - this feature could be available only after turn 1 or 2 has ended, and/or refreshed every other (player) turn.
    - when the troop carrier is absent from (new) maps, this would mean that the team had to walk a little in order to meet the aliens. Either the sensor feature would not be possible, or a special, carried relay item would be needed.
  • Troop Support:
    Any armed transport (Firebird, Raptor, Hyperion) would act like a static heavy weapon support point.
    - Either existing heavy weapons would be used, or new, balanced weapons would be added. For example, a SHIVA AA autogun would be replaced by a UGV HMG (including the ammo), or else the portable MMG, and a laser turret would be replaced by a UGV laser, or else the portable Heavy Laser.
    - the arc of fire would be centered on the plane's axis, and quite wide (with but poor elevation) because both the SHIVA and the laser turret are rotating and stabilized.
    - a virtual soldier button would be added at the end of team buttons' row (a 9th or 11th slot), or at its beginning (a slot 0), which should be hit in order to select the weapon (the fact a virtual soldier GUI is thus displayed is not very baneful), and targeting would be as usual, with the exception that the weapon couldn't aim a target at a different height level?
    - no reaction fire would be allowed, only active support fire.
    - ammo would be limited to the replacement weapon's clip/cell capacity. No reloading would be possible?
    - pilot firing stats would be quite good, as compared to an overloaded rooky without an aiming system.
  • Landing Zone preparation:
    Any transport would have grenade launchers to deploy a smoke cloud around it.
    - range would be very short (half an area of effect diameter) without aiming possible. Actual point of impact would still be random.
    - perhaps, this could be extended to gas grenades?
    - the number and direction of the GL would depend on the transport model. For instance, the Firebird would cover its two lateral exits only, while the Herakles could surround its rear, and fill itself with smoke, and the Raptor would deploy smoke right under itself.
    - when selecting the craft (the virtual soldier), the secondary weapon could be a grenade in the GUI (there's a problem though because heavy weapons are two-handed weapons).
    - only one barrage fire would be possible per mission, but at any desired turn (either none of the GL are used, or all of them).
    - it doesn't look like breaking the balance, as it only uses 1, 2, or 3-4 grenades, quite the same that you'd throw on the first turn if scouting is not wanted, or after scouting.

Bugs in stable version (2.5) / Transient, spontaneous ground missions?
« on: November 10, 2015, 12:36:39 pm »
I'd like to know if by design, a ground (XVI) mission may
  • appear on the ground and be notified (inside radar detection coverage), without any UFO registered;
  • disappear a few in-game minutes later, without any notification.
As it's a very rare frequency, I'd think it's a bug. Usually, "spontaneous" missions are terror missions, without any UFO to recover.
By the way, what's the point about those "without UFO" missions? Are they sign of a nearby alien base? Or the sign of some viral spreading?

On the attached screenshot:
- 6:05 Alien activity (XVI) is detected in the R.S. (Guyanas coast)
- it disappears later (6:20?).
- soon, or at the same time, 6:20, another alien activity (XVI) is detected in the A.R. (China).
- game is saved (for the debuggers to use) and quited.
- game is reloaded and the China activity has gone too.

Bugs in stable version (2.5) / [geoscape] Crew (0/0) for interceptors
« on: November 04, 2015, 06:56:47 pm »
When interceptors are listed in a window in the geoscape, it seems that the crew 0/0 is always displayed. Having named my interceptors with Saracen and Stiletto prefixes, I notice this only since I built Dragoon (a shorter name).
Shouldn't the crew be displayed only for those aircrafts that have a crew (besides the pilot)?

If this display is still on v2.6 I forward the bug on Bugtracker.

Bugs in stable version (2.5) / [model] Two body armor textures
« on: November 04, 2015, 06:09:21 pm »

Playing on v2.5, I suspect these graphical glitches as being either already solved on v2.6, or not being bugs at all, because it's my settings, etc.
GNU/linux 4.1.8-desktop-1.mga5
Video card: AMD RV790 [Radeon HD 4890]
Video module: "ATI Radeon HD4870 and earlier"

UFO:Alien Unknown v2.5 stable (AMD64)

1°) Body armor (tier 1):

The helmet features a dull black square surface on the cheeks. Closing-up show that it's a solid model, and not a forgotten 2D surface. What "wrongs" me is that the texture used here is so different than the rest of the helmet (the skull, the jaws). Also the sharp shape looks odd to me.

Is this designed this way or is it corrected on v2.6?

2°) Nanocomposite armor (tier 2):

The shoulders feature a dull black patch that could be the size of an insign. Was it a placeholder in v2.5, that would be in used now on v2.6?


Depending on the map, just as well with the Firebird as with the Heracles transport (the others I don't know yet), I experience various exit paths. At first, I suspected it was connected to the rescue zone, as it may varies as far as the Firebird is concerned. Now, I'd think it's rather a variable alignment with some map grid. Sometimes, it may even be asymmetrical (I'm not sure for the Firebird).

Does this depends on how the maps were created in the past? Could this be corrected? Do you need the maps names ?

Screenshot 1-3:
Firebird with T-rescue zone: symmetrical, 2-squares exit
Firebird with T-rescue zone: asymmetrical exit (indeed, I'm not sure but I once could have a 3-squares wide exit)
Firebird with square rescue zone: 2-squares exit,  loss of the two front-most squares (not an exit concern, but a real cover one!)

Feature Requests / A middle ground health system: treated wounds
« on: October 30, 2015, 01:05:16 pm »

Now that we have a nice wounds and incapacitation system implemented, we could go further and include some features we had in the other XCOM games.

Current state (v2.5):

  • Wounded soldier on the battlefield lose health and morale.
  • They are slowly healed at the hospital.
  • Without hospital, they are very slowly healed but don't recover from their incapacitation.
  • They can return to a mission (or participate to the base defence)  whenever they want, with full morale, whatever their sanitary state.
  • A treated wound system seems to be already implemented at the hospital, though I don't understand what the blue and red colors on the circular icons are for. Perhaps it's blue when the incapacitation disappears?
  • The hospital UI shows all the soldiers in the base, and display the number of wounds to be treated, as well as the general health status (severity of the health loss).

In other games:

  • Wounded soldiers may be prevented from going to a mission until they're back to full health.
  • Wounded soldiers in the hospital may spawn during defence base missions at the hospital (presumably, when they are in the top of the soldiers roster, and you can't pick those soldiers you want to defend the base).


  • Keep the overall view on the hospital UI (all the soldiers are monitored).
  • Introduce (or develop) a "treated wound" concept.
  • Automatically have the non treated (i.e. freshly wounded) soldiers assigned to a Hospital transporter-like container.
  • Add a logo attached to a soldier's name in the soldiers roster, in place of the plane logo I've seen on a v2.6 picture.
  • Prevent non treated soldiers from being assigned to a squad (transport or base defence).
  • Eventually, spawn the baddest non treated soldiers (unarmed) at the hospital during base defence missions (when more teams are allowed on a map).
About #2, when a wounded soldier returns form mission, even if his bleedings were stopped by medipacks, and thus he is considered as "stabilized", he still suffer from incapacitation (as for now), and each of his wounds (torso, legs, etc.) need to be treated. The soldier is considered as being "non treated" until each one of his wounds is not treated. The novelty (?) here is to split the recovery time in two: first part (a third? a half? ...?) is the treatment, second part is the recovery proper (perhaps, that could correspond to the icon's color red-> blue, the icon itself disappearing when the wound is fully recovered from).

About #3, it's to prevent such soldiers from being assigned to a transporter or a base mission (though, being assigned to a transporter doesn't prevent the later in v2.5).

About #4, the logo allows to quickly identify non treated soldiers; it should be kept neutral (although I personally think that a red cross shouldn't hurt anybody in the 2080s). Perhaps a red "H" like on the road signs?

About #3-#6, while a non fully treated soldier can't leave the hospital, a recovering one may so.
He may return to a mission with full morale (as currently), only with less health, and with any non recovered incapacitation (quite as currently).
Imo, should a non treated soldier be forced to engage aliens again, his morale shouldn't be at full level as currently. Chain a few missions without returning to the base, and see how a 20 HPs left soldier behave as if at a boot camp to understand what I mean (though he'd suffer from multiple incapacitation, at least).

About #6,  without any multiple team management, it would be still possible, for a base defence mission only, to automatically assign (checked box in gray) the most grievous non treated soldier(s?) to the defence team, leaving 11 or less able defenders in the squad (it would be more logical to have him spawn at the hospital, if possible).

A severely wounded soldier shouldn't be allowed to go to a mission. You would have to shoot the medics before they release him. In the opposite, keeping a wounded soldier at the hospital until he's at full health, is exaggerated when the situation needs him. I propose a middle ground.

Design / New national name lists
« on: October 29, 2015, 03:39:52 am »
Well, the best way of having what I wish is perhaps to do it...

I propose to provide the coders the needed data, i.e. the list of names for each of the 8 nations in the game, and the task is more complicated as I first thought during my holidays.
More precisely, it shouldn't be name lists per nation, but rather name lists per language, and percent lists per nation (i.e. what is needed to generate a national name).

Hence, we need three items:
- name lists sorted by languages (Mandarin, German, Turkic, ...): I let it to others. The game already includes several languages in its name list.
- lists of proportions of the population using different languages in each nation in the 2080s: that I'll work on.
- a demo program to generate name lists for each nation, given the two preceding items: I can provide an algorithm but I won't code.
Thus, when I'm over with those percent lists, I need assistance from a coder in order to write a testing program (with dummy name lists) so that the team may approve the system. It will be only a matter of reading a text file, applying some percentiles, and writing down a list of random first name+surname sets per nation.


- The goal of all of this is to add a distinctive national flavor to the name sets of PHALANX employees who are sent by any of the 8 nations. It's true that the current system is credible only for the United America and the Greater European Union.
- However, a slight mix could be kept inside any nation, given it's three generations ahead of us.
- Names are linked to a man's maternal language.
- They are many languages spoken in each nation.
- There is recent immigration is all the nations, but some are more isolationist or xenophobic than others. As a consequence, a fraction of the nationals could bear extra-national names.
- In 2084, all the nations are developed, and thus, all the major languages have a chance based on their speaking population to have PHALANX employees. I mean that we don't forbid a language for the single reason that it's only spoken by peasants in the 2010s.

TODO list:

Step 1:
  • to list the current countries (or parts of) integrated in the 2084 nations (any geopolitical map will do).
  • to estimate the different major languages spoken in each country, along with the population speaking these maternal languages. Such websites like wikipaedia and will be helpful.
  • to aggregate and extrapolate those figures from the 2010s so that we have the language pattern (percents) of any 8 nations.

Step 2:
  • to devise a text format to store those data. Either actual percents or a system akin to that used by the Warlords series (that's presumably optimized for some computing using loops).
  • to chose the structures to be used in the code (e.g. nation.language ...)
  • to devise an algorithm that computes the name of a given national, allowing for some diversity and mixed names.

  • to write as many name lists as there are major languages.
  • to code a demo program that read the data (percent) file and the name list file.

The goal is for instance to have employees from the Asian Republic named as follow:

Mandarin first name + Mandarin name
Mandarin first name + Mandarin name
Mandarin first name + Mandarin name
Mandarin first name + Mandarin name
Korean first name + Korean name
Korean first name + Korean name
Japanese first name + Japanese name
Japanese first name + Japanese name
Tai first name + Tai name
Nepali first name + Mandarin name
Japanese first name + Korean name
Lao first name + Japanese name
English first name + Mandarin name
Hindu first name + Dravidian name
German first name + Spanish name

Please, tell me if this proposal might interest the team, and what changes you would have.
It will take time to collect and aggregate the data, however.

When is v2.6 scheduled to be out, by the way?


I read that the team's working on a way to punish abusive firing&hiring back of employees, either by making those firings definitive or by adding a "transfer" delay before they can be hire back.
(before the fired employees return from leave vacations).
On the other hand, the scientists and workers are unskilled and never gain experience, as for now. A such, if they die or if they're lost through firing, it's not a great matter because they can be easily replaced (only the cost in time and credits of a lost base does count).
In comparison, the definitive firing of veteran soldiers would hurt much more, because they gain experience and the late game need them.

On the last few hours, I've had a think about an easy way to have both: the more ancient the employees the more efficient and thus valuable, and the late game researches and items be next to impossible to handle by beginners, making it critical to not loose the veteran searchers and engineers (such as when a R&D or production base is stormed by the aliens).

I present here the basic ideas:

Workers and scientists proficiencies (skills):

  • Workers and scientists have now proficiency (or skill). This proficiency is used to compute how fast they perform as compared to the current (v2.5) production times (let's call them reference times).
  • They use the same proficiency scale as the soldiers (0-100), starting in the 10s-20s, and increasing through action (production, research).
  • Instead of having only one proficiency, it could be interesting to have several ones (i.e. 3 or 4). This way, it would still add some realism at a lesser cost and without cluttering the code nor adding too much of micro-management for such a tactical action game.
  • Workers get 3 or 4 proficiencies:
    1.Production: used to decrease the production times of all non-craft items, increased by producing non-craft items.
    2.Assembly: used to decrease the production times of all crafts (aircrafts, UGVs), increased by producing crafts.
    3.Disassembly: used to decrease the dismantling times of UFOs, increased by dismantling UFOs.
    4.Prototyping: used to decrease the RESEARCH times of new terran items, increased by taking part in the final stage of any research on new items.
    I know that the workers don't do research, but I figured a way to use them anyways.
  • Scientists get 3 or 4 proficiencies:
    1.Reverse Engineering: used to decrease research times on alien technologies (new UFOs included) under Paul Navarre, increased by doing research in this field.
    2.Xenobiology: used to decrease research times on autopsies, alien behavior and psy powers under Doc. Connor, increased by doing researh in this field.
    3.Applied Physics: used to decrease research times on any new terran item/tech/craft under Paul Navarre, increased by doing research in this field.
    4.Data Analysis: used to decrease research times on statistical data and to speed up memo output rates under Col. Falkland (Alien on Earth, etc.), increased by doing research in this field.
  • Workers and scientists gain experience through doing things. How then to replace lost veteran employees? Workers may always produce things even if they aren't needed and are sold. But scientists won't research again topics that have been already searched.
    This is the reason for having the scientists able to train when they are idle: it's a very low daily rate and this models how the scientists study former researches in the PHALANX database.
  • As for the precise experience gain system, I let this to others. Perhaps it could draw inspiration from the soldiers' experience system.
    There could be a very low gain on each day of being in base (training or researching a topic too much difficult), a low daily gain when researching, and a bunch of points gained when research is completed (e.g. 2-7 points on the 0-100 scale)

Now that workers and scientists get skills (or proficiencies), we can devise the principle of the system.

Production/research times:

Currently, production and research times have fixed values in (hour x man) (as experienced with production times at least) ; this means that each assigned employee contributes equally to the actual production time.
For example, if an UFO has a dismantling time of 6000 (hour x man), assigning 50 workers on it will result in a 120 hours dismantling time.
In this case, each worker works 120 hours on this production. Let's call this the reference time.

The idea is that unexperienced workers could contribute for less than those 120 hours while veteran workers would contribute more.
How less? As low as 0 if the research or the production is too difficult.
How more? As much as 150% for instance (this a balance concern).

On to the maths:

Currently, the production (research?) time is computed by: productionTime = referenceTime / manpower
where manpower = number of assigned employees x 1  <- 1 is the efficiency factor, the same for all the employees.

I propose to change this formula into:  productionTime = referenceTime / actualManpower
where actualManpower = sum of all the individual efficiency factors (on a 0-1.5 scale)
Quite obviously, we have   0 < actualManpower < 1.5xManpower, so that the referenceTime (currently used in game) might need some balance (or not).

In short, 50 workers would work as fast as 75 or as slow as... 1 (or even 0)! depending on the difficulty of the research/production as compared to their own skill.
The factor 1 would correspond to an employee whose skill matches the required proficiency score.
For instance, given that the employee have a score of 20 at the beginning of the campaign, those researches accessible from the start should have a proficiency of circa 20.

Last thing to do is to compute those individual proficiency factors (0-1.5)

Proficiency factor is computed given the employee's proficiency and the research/production reference proficiency:

If we use a delayed exponential function, a simple formula any physicist is familiar with, which parameters are set so that a worker with same proficiency score as the difficulty score of the given research/item, we end with:
- the possibility to forbid a research or a production to an employee not proficient enough.
- the general result of having veteran employees performing more, but not on a linear curve, rather on an asymptotic one (exponential).


If this simple system (despite this wall of text) gets a chance to interest the team (either to implement it or to some other use), I can send you the formulas, a spreadsheet and the associated diagrams that illustrate what we'd get.
I'd have to work on them in the few next days, of course, but only if you are interested.
From the few tests I made on a pocket calculator, this should address the question.

Just give me an email or an address to upload files and wait a little.

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