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Author Topic: Feedback on Alien Bestiary and Alien Teams  (Read 2052 times)

Offline Rodmar

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Feedback on Alien Bestiary and Alien Teams
« on: October 09, 2015, 10:04:21 pm »
Hello, I'm playing v2.5.

I read http://ufoai.org/wiki/Proposals/Alien_Bestiary, as well as the .ufo files about alien missions and alien teams.

Here's a feedback.

Teams are not damaged by a crash, and we fight in a ground mission the original team that was "intended" at alien mission launch. So we can discuss on original teams now.
Team in a given category (say, fighters) are random. For example, you may encounter a nearly full robotic team, and you may question what for a UFO crew is.
To speak about alien teams' consistency is to speak about alien bestiary role and diversity.
It's also to speak about what is an UFO's crew.

I mean:
Why Harvest missions with 10 robotic units?
Why a landed Corrupter with 4 or less units inside such a valuable asset in hostile territory?
Why a XVI mission with mostly mass killers?

Mixing what is written in the UFOpaedia and in the Alien Bestiary section with some feedback, I end with:

  • The various subsystems and roles aboard an UFO seem to be:
    piloting, navigation, engine & energy, weapons & targeting, plus ground mission related roles.
    Perhaps, a psi-communication with the fleet, but we don't know, if the com is collective or not.
  • Ortnoks are like brutes. They don't appear to have any specialist role. I read this as: Ortnok can only be fighters, and heavy handlers. The fact they can man a craft's ordinance is even questionable.
    As crewmen: they shouldn't be in a craft not scheduled to land, or only as gunners (if they are skilled enough for that, possibly when the crew is important enough).
  • Shevaars are fast and coordinated, and they are able to be specialists. As fighters, they are used as scouts, snipers, and "ninjas".
    As crewmen, they can be at any post. It's only said that, in presence of Tamans, a Taman would be in command of the craft.
  • Tamans are frail and smarter (even in a few number): it's probable that they are navigators, commanders, scientists, and pilots, when other species are also present.
  • Bloodspiders (BS) are robotic biomass gatherers, as explained. They are not very suited for combat, and the general tactic is to have fighters that neutralize or kill humans in order for the spiders to collect their biomaterial. They look also small on the Containment screen and in the Battlescape. As small as dogs. That means that they would mostly "bite" at the legs, and that they take little room in a large UFO.
    - If possible with the Battlescape engine, BS would deal injuries only to the legs (after all, a non Combat model would try and wound foots and legs so that a human would fall down and become an easy prey).
    - If the AI allow to discriminate between alien unit types, civilians would be priority targets for BS (currently, it's PHALANX), and they would shun the soldiers.
  • Combat Bloodspiders (CBS) are said to be upgraded spiders, in a recent attempt to counter the PHALANX rising opposition. They are like makeshift close combat robots with added plating.
    Now, there are two ways to see this makeshift upgrade: either
    -- the Combat version replace the original version in all the missions (at a given Alien Interest score), as it seems the case currently, or
    -- the Combat version is only a way to deploy clumsy robotic CQ fighters when the situation demands it.
    I'd be for the latter, because the spider form is in no way the better form to move and be sturdy enough. The joints are likely to be twisted at first blast, etc.
    As a consequence, BS should stay the main biomass gatherer all through the campaign. CBS should be deployed only when CQ defense is needed, i.e. inside or around crashed/landed craft.
    Perhaps, to be more clear, CBS should be more protected, more heavy, and slower. They should be made quite unfit for biomass gathering anymore. Also, they would have new sensors and aggressive (rushing) tactics.

    - Also, it seems that currently, a CBS only have one attack mode, a bite. It can bite twice if near to its target (?). It could have a Frenzy attack mode too, taking nearly all its TUs away, and resulting in a massive gore against a non armored target (like a frenzy war dog). Not be closed by a CBS would become more a necessity.
    - A second enhancement could be that the CBS have a chance to be trapped with a Plasma grenade. It could suicide attack, especially if close to a group of humans (if the AI may understand this), or simply explode upon death: another obvious reason to deal with it from afar.
  • Hovernets (HN) are scouts, as said. They are the eyes and the ears (and beyond) of the Aliens. They should be present in any mission. Should they really hunt the civilians for the spiders? Their plasma weapon could be as powerful as a plasma pistol, they would have 360° sectoral vision, night vision and see through smoke (like the firemen with IR scopes). They should be more cautious and less aggressive in most situations (looking after a cover/to be hidden at the end of their turn).
  • Combat Hovernets (CHN) are combat units, and could be totally different from the Hovernets, as it's said. For now, they look like Hovernets. I'd think that, the same way Combat Bloodspiders shouldn't replace all the Bloodspiders in all the late-game missions, Combat Hovernet shouldn't replace all the Hovernets. The former are scouts, while the other are fighters. Where the CBS is merely an (hastily made) upgrade, CHN only copies the locomotion system, and the general frame/shape of their cousin, but it's intended from scratch as being  a fast, low cost, front line hunter-killer, or an open field suppressor.
    CHNs would be less able as scouts, and possibly slower too. They would be (they are) more lethal. They start being deployed at a given Alien Interest score, when the Aliens are fed up to register such losses in biological units.
More on the robotic units: they are small, and that mean easily stored in a UFO.
If the normal version are made a little less dangerous, it'll be of little consequence to add more of them on the Battlescape.

Now on the missions:

  • Scout UFO:
    Mission : Aerial (high altitude) recon, Ground (low alitude) recon

    - It's no meant to land: no fighters aboard.
    - For some missions (Ground recon), it may deploy and retrieve scout Hovernets that remotely scout a given area under crew's supervision.
    At a given Alien Interest, a "crash life-buoy" may be added in form of one or two CHN, stored just in case.

    Crew: 1 pilot, 1 nav, 1 tech for detection & power/engines, possibly 2 techs more for robot management and remote control.
    Life-buoy: 1 HN + 1 CHN.
    Ground scouting: 2-4 additional HNs.

    UFO crashed: the scouts are deployed on the map, the Combat Hovernet, the pilot and the nav are near the wreck or inside some building nearby, the techs are more exposed.

Do you see where I come?

  • Fighter UFO:
    Mission: same as Scout UFO, plus Escort/Air Patrol
    Though I once retrieved a 100% healthy fighter (not crashed) because it attacked a PHALANX base! Did it land?

    Also, the fighter could deploy and retrieve CHNs for early-game Terror missions. It would be a Hovernet-only Battlescape mission, with scout and fighter robots altogether, and no UFO as a prize (it'd remain hidden all the time).

    Crew: same as scout, plus 1 gunner.
    Life-buoy: could be more important: 2 CHNs+ 1 HN.
    "Ground" team: HNs & CHNs

  • Harvester UFO:
    The first UFO deemed to land.
    Missions: (possibly) Ground recon, Harvest, Terror, Base Attack
    Bloodspiders should be reserved to Harvest and Terror Attack.
    At a given Alien Interest, CBSs would be also deployed.

    Crew: 2 pilots, 1 nav: most of the time still on board. 1 gunner + 1-2 tech
    CQ Defense Team: No "life-buoy" here, as the craft is deemed to land, but a CQ defense team made of:
    1 fighter (Taman/Shevaar/Ortnok), 1 HN and 1 CBS in the first floor, 1 CBS in the second floor.
    Harvest team: (deployed on the map) 2-4 HN, 2-6 BS, 1-2 fighters and later, some CHN and CBS more.
    Terror & Base Attack teams: less or no BS, more fighters, and more CHN. The Harvester would be more like an armed transport.
  • and so one with the Corrupter, the Gunboat, etc.
So, the crew would become bigger (much bigger) than they currently are.
Remember that the more realistic setting would rather correspond the Difficult setting.
Also, robot units take no room inside an UFO. Adding more of them is just a question of difficulty balance, of fun (slug fest), and of thrill (they are everywhere).

TL;DR

Currently alien teams aboard UFO are only "scouts", "workers", and "fighters".
Secondly, for each such category, the teams appear to be totally random (for a given "Taman_HeavyShevaar...." setting), except that for some Alien Interest, some species are not allowed yet.
I propose to reflect on the real purpose and layout of a given UFO, together with its current mission.
I think it would be best if the current team object is replaced by a team_crew/team_defence/team_mission structure, i.e. who's necessary to actually man and fly the UFO, who may be useful in case of landing and/or crash, and who's needed for the current mission to be carried over: Scouting, Aerial Interception, Harvest, Terror, XVI, Base Attack.

Given that:
- Ortnoks shouldn't be specialists, i.e. normal crewmen.
- Hovernets should remain the only (real) robotic scouts all throughout the game.
- Bloodspiders should remain the only biomass harvesters all throughout the game, seconded by Ortnoks heavy handlers (to handle full bodies).
- Combat BS would be CQ last ditch defenders, and terrorist units.
- Combat HN would be the main robotic front line, as for now, a role normal Hovernets would fulfill only in last resort.

Offline Rodmar

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Re: Feedback on Alien Bestiary and Alien Teams
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2015, 02:09:36 pm »
As an example, screenshot features the settings of the Fuel Deposit map, a map with a new, special mission briefing:
The Aliens have landed and are entranched in the closed installation.
This time, the entranched Aliens were: 5 Combat Hovernets, 4 Combat Bloodspiders, and one Ortnok.
1°) This map is without any UFO but a Corrupter UFO was retrieved at the end anyways, so we may assume that it had this very crew of 10, 1 of them, only, being a biological unit, who is deemed to not be even able to man a spacecraft... Or do we call this an automated shuttle?
2°) This mission was a landed XVI mission: can Combat Bloodspiders, conceived to defend the Aliens against the PHALANX, spread a XVI? With monomolecular mandibles? (Sorry for becoming a little sarcastic :) )

Offline ShipIt

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Re: Feedback on Alien Bestiary and Alien Teams
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2015, 02:41:09 pm »
The alien teams are already different in 2.6-dev. However, we are very limited about that.