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Author Topic: Revise Initial Base Layout  (Read 6375 times)

Surrealistik

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Revise Initial Base Layout
« on: July 16, 2008, 03:48:36 am »
The initial base easily features one of the worst layouts I've ever seen. The designer should be fired and court martialed if at all possible.

To elaborate, two critical facilities, radar and the power plant are in extremely close proximity to points of entry (in the case of the radar station, it's adjacent to 3), while the command centre is closer to these entry points than less crucial modules such as the Workshop. This is to say nothing of the alien containment facility's dangerous placement (although because you can migrate/destroy captured specimens prior to a base assault, this isn't as problematic).

At any rate, it should be obvious that the layout is in need of serious revision. Entry points such as hangers and the main entrance should be bunched together in a corner, and buffered from the rest of the base by a single file chokepoint of living quarters (where soldiers spawn in the event of a base attack). The remaining facilities should then be linked with the quarters, and similarily arranged in single file when possible (to maintain a continuous choke) in order of least to most important, the Radar, Command Centre and Power Plant being the greatest number of facilities away from the entrance cluster.

Offline Telok

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2008, 05:32:01 pm »
While I totally agree that the initial default base layout could be modified, you are lacking some critical information.

Go http://mattn.ninex.info/?page=Download and check out the 2.3 dev. This will get you into base attacks.

The information you need is that (as of the dev version I'm running) the Small Alien Hanger, Large Hanger, Radar, and Base Entrance are all entry points. Your Command Center and first Living Quarters are your squad start points, in that order. Four to eight soldiers are started in the CC with the remainder in Living, if these structures are far from your entrance you give the aliens time to spread out and filter through your base. Sniper fire and grenade spam across your labs really annoys your scientists.

My current base design has the SA-Hanger and Radar south and south-west of the Entrance, and the Large Hanger in the squares south of them. After a nasty firefight at the entrance I push my snipers past and down to the Large Hanger while the rest of the team inches up the entrance ramp with everyone having clear LoS and high reaction fire modes readied. I send the snipers on (flamers armed, rifles in pack) to the hanger because it has a three story control tower open on the north, east, and west.

I am thinking of changing my layout a bit. Placing a Living Quarters north of the Entrance, Command Center to the east, Large Hanger south of them and Small Alien Hanger and Radar at the bottom. This would give me two paths to the Entrance and fast access to that control tower.

Do you remember the base invasion in the original Xcom? If you had living quarters and hangers scattered randomly through a base you could spend hours trying to sweep every room clear of sectiods and snake-men... This base is bigger... As long as we keep them out of the base as much as possible you only have to clear the top side.

Surrealistik

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2008, 07:26:34 pm »
Are you sure that the radar station is an entry point? I don't recall aliens spawning from there at all, though they may seem to if your initial base is attacked, due to being surrounded by alien spawns (hangers and entrance). I also don't remember soldiers spawning at the command centre (I do have and run the most recent version of 2.3), though you might be correct about that.

My guideline layouts assume the aliens actually prioritize and attack critical base facilities (doesn't yet seem to be implimented), in addition to taking other prudent considerations into mind (spawn and entry points). This means that even though the command centre may be a spawn point, it'll be positioned far from the entrance. If the command centre IS a spawn point, it really shouldn't be; spawn points should be selectable (you do have some level of forewarning, enough to quickly post infantry to selected facilities), or at the very least limited to the living quarters, which are ideal in that they can be safely positioned in close proximity to base entrances as they're low importance facilities.

The optimal base design (at least for the purposes of defendability) features a zig zagging snake pattern of facilities in single rank and file, such that no facility has more than two entrance and exit points, with the exception of the 'head' that constitutes an annex of entry points, cut off from the rest of the base by a series of living quarters, with facilities afterwords arranged in the above manner in order of least to greatest importance.

Also, what is the point of the unbuildable tiles? Maybe they should cost more to develop, but why would they be completely inviable, and if for whatever reason they were, why on earth would PHALANX opt for a location with vast, unbuildable tracts to begin with? Further, what do they really add to the game? Maybe I'm alone in my opinion, but I find these more annoying and needless than anything else.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 07:33:59 pm by Surrealistik »

Offline geever

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2008, 07:46:07 pm »
1. You can disable autobuild and set up your initial base as you want! (This is also a "cheat", because these buildings will be set up in no time, but whatever you build later - or to the autobuilded they will take days as usual.)
2. There is a plan about saveable base templates, AFAIR.
3. Number of blocked tiles are random in the current trunk (from 0 to 2). (I have changed it recently.) So, if you're lucky (or play with reload game) you can have a base without any.

Regards,
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Offline Telok

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2008, 08:57:28 pm »
Ackpth, you may be right. I just checked and found my 2.3 to be more than a month old.

In the version I have soldiers always spawn at the command center first. With an 8 man crew it's always evenly split between CC and quarters. I'll grab the latest version and check if anything has changed.

I tend to treat all the entrances as dangerous because in a couple of my first attacks I did encounter a couple of aliens at the top and exterior base of the radar structure. The radar installation isn't (I think) an alien spawn point in itself, but when it's between an alien and your soldiers they can come down it. I also constantly find one to three aliens  gibbering in a top-side corner of the map, presumably because I've managed to kill all their friends and they want to escape. Once a slightly improved AI is implemented and they start doing more than just making a bee-line to our soldiers and hiding behind corners we will need to guard all the entrances. It wouldn't be too hard to code in an alien 'mission' where they moved towards your alien containment and 'freed' (read spawned more aliens with weapons from your armory of they got into the containment room) some buddies. In that case you'd see them coming down any stairs nearest their objective instead of nearest your troops.

I would agree with your best defense base design except for one thing, we don't have enough troops to make it worth while. Under more realistic circumstances that design would allow defenders to fall back and mount a more aggressive defense closer to vital installations while they sapped the numbers of the enemy troops. Unfortunately we only get eight guys, each one is a significant loss and the alien weapons are so strong that surviving two hits counts as extreme good luck. Any fight at a choke point tends to stay fairly static until one side loses too many people to be a viable threat. I simply don't think that base design matters once you've segregated the entry points from the main base by placing your guards in the way. Even given having a place to pull pull three wounded guys back and have them form a healing circle most of the bottlenecks in a base can be held with just three or four troops.

Perhaps once we have more options in combat (UGVs, command detonated explosives, maybe some sort of in-base defense system) it would be more useful. Right now covering with MGs, SMGs, or flamers while bouncing grenade launcher shots around corners can hold a position in the base. If people start dying and you retreat to another room you're probably wasting TUs because your fallback position has the same guys and equipment as your current position.

And I think that the Command Center makes a good spot for your troops to spawn. Assuming that your soldiers are more than just grunts with ray guns it's logical for some of them to be there to help command base defenses and evaluate the threat before the fighting started. The actual room is build like a little bunker with armored walls, it looks that way to me. I like having a protected room where I know that I can count on having troops at the start of the battle. In Xcom if you had a lab or workshop heavy base you also had lots of living quarters, some of your soldiers could start halfway across the map away from the attack. I'd like selectable start points in missions, but I don't know how likely that is (beyond my small  skills to code) and I'll take a solid known position in one room over semi-random spread across possible multiple rooms.

I'm not even sure I'd run the optimal base defense design if it made a difference. We already have 15(?) different rooms, four of which are x2 size. It doesn't look like you can fit them all into one base like that.

I think we may want to sometimes preface our threads and posts with the versions we're using to prevent mistaken assumptions.

Surrealistik

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2008, 01:44:39 am »
The design is optimal defensively speaking because the aliens *might* be able to make a successful spearhead and scuttle your first chokepoint (presumably at the 1st living quarters). This is increasingly likely when you're invaded with larger ufos which have more aliens (wait until the battleships and corruptors come along). In the event this happens, the advantage gained by the aliens is minimal as the ground they've won is only more valuable tactically in that it's closer to your key facilities, providing no alternate routes of entry or escape. In my experience, it's also difficult to have all soldiers properly contribute to base defense by locking down a living quarters module (or entry module for that matter), without rendering them exceptionally vulnerable to area of effect weaponry. A prolonged, continuous choke allows for reverse leap frogging if needed, and this tactic likely will be versus more numerous and powerful aliens, especially once better AI is implimented. All told though, you are right in the assessment that generally, and by and large, a single choke is almost invariably sufficient to resist an alien attack at the present time.

Also on a related note, I strongly believe there should be some sort of 'Security Station' facility ala X-Com Apocalypse, which is specifically built and equipped to be a proper chokepoint with pillbox slots, fortified walls and automatic turrets.

As for the Command Centre, once it becomes an area of strategic and tactical importance, it would not make a good spawn point for this very reason, despite any defensive characteristics the facility may have; you do not want firefights occuring there.

Lastly, while economizing space is important, typically I find I'm able to 'specialize' bases to excel at certain roles, such as research, manufacturing, interception, dispatch, etc... Specialization consequently minimizes space economy problems and monetary expendatures without signifigantly impacting overall performance.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2008, 01:55:45 am by Surrealistik »

Offline Mayhem

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2008, 07:16:40 am »
Can we get a definitive "These are alien spawn points, these are human spawn points", as its not as intuitive as it should be...

I'd have thought any facility which requires access to the surface would be a spawn point, but that does not appear to be the case.

Offline TroubleMaker

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2008, 08:50:57 am »
there should be some sort of 'Security Station' facility ala X-Com Apocalypse, which is specifically built and equipped to be a proper chokepoint with pillbox slots, fortified walls and automatic turrets.
I told the same for some time ago. Such security stations played important role in defending my bases in UFO:Apoc.

Also there should be blast doors, dividing the base to separate parts or sectors. But we must expect similar facilities (SS & BD) at alien sites - bases and large UFOs, should their assault be implemented. And I do not love to expose myself to the fire of self-guided MGs or mini-rocket launchers in real world :)

Offline DanielOR

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2008, 06:10:16 pm »
Blast doors may be hard to implement - given that right now there are no doors at all.

If I get your drift, a blast door is something that comes down and takes a signficant time to get through.  Maybe requiring a skill check or implementation of a specific explosive or other door opening device.  Given the non-destructive nature of the environment, less likely.

Sorry to be a nay-sayer.  The idea is a reasonable one, just not sure if it folds well into the current engine.

Surrealistik

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2008, 06:51:52 pm »
Movable, breakable entities (breakables certainly are possible) might work as blast doors. The real problem is creating some sort of control interface for them (I think).

Sophisanmus

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2008, 08:13:34 pm »
I just grabbed the win 2.3 off the betasite, I see spawns for humans in the Command Center, Quarters, Hospital (!); alien spawns are in the Large Hangar (only?), Large UFO Hangar, UFO Hangar, and Entrance.  A couple other facilities, however, have entrances the aliens don't use: Radar and Workshop.  Also, the hangar "under construction" maps seems to have fewer alien start points, when it would seem such a wide-open area would attract more visitors.

As far as I can tell, specific objects can be set as destructible.  These cannot be employed en-mass, as many environment objects which normally span many spaces would have to be divided up and individually set as destructible.  Individual doors, however, seem to me within the scope of possibility.  Now, altering alien behavior to breach doors, especially with adequate backup, seems to me to be the real challenge.  The control interface might be as simple as having a space marked for some sort of  trigger, if the actor is on the correct team.

A thought I had with regards to base defense; the more troops available at a base while under attack, the more likely you are to have soldiers spawning in the Command Center.  More soldiers would allow for larger shifts, and fewer would be caught sleeping.

Surrealistik

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2008, 08:36:46 pm »
I completely disagree with the Command Centre being a spawn point at all for reasons mentioned earlier. Being an extremely important facility, it should be placed far from the frontlines of any base defense. As I've stated, selectable spawning points would be ideal, and reasonable.

That said, it is true that modifying the AI to account for blast doors would probably prove the most difficult change to exact. When assessing obstacles to the feature's implimentation, I was thinking about the internal ones as opposed to external implications, and required revisions. Specific to the raw implimentation of blast doors themselves though, the creation of an elegant, polished and intuitive control interface does seem to be the most problematic aspect.

Sophisanmus

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2008, 10:14:57 pm »
Hmm, good point about the Command Center thing.  Though, really, most of the facilities are senstive.  Unfortunately I don't think selective spawn points is an option.  Instead, though, your team could be spawned randomly throughout the base, and then given a few turns to get into position before the aliens arrive?  That way the aliens can be spawned randomly, while still allowing the player to position his defenders.  I think delayed spawning should be possible; there was some talk of it in the form of reinforcements some time ago.  If the invading UFO is not detected before landing, there would be less delay and such. 

The primary problem I see in implementing defensive structures is the lack of space.  If the grid were to be increased to 6x6, or some other method of expanding base size at player expense, these may become more viable.  Looking at the base battlescape pieces, I can see why building down may be out of the question.  Now, if there was a way to implement "in-between" pieces, tiny hallway modifications that fit between the base rooms, there could be a way to implement some static measures.  Security doors, cameras, motion alarms, and maybe some sentry guns of some sort.  I can kinda see it all being arranged in an overhead map, with clickables for the doors (supposedly controlled by the base commander from the Command Center, though still only toggleable once per round to prevent abuse). 

Now, if there were some way to implement a function where losing control of your Command Center could result in losing control and benefits of these defenses...
« Last Edit: July 17, 2008, 10:22:01 pm by Sophisanmus »

Offline TroubleMaker

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2008, 10:21:43 pm »
Blast doors may be hard to implement - given that right now there are no doors at all.
...
The idea is a reasonable one, just not sure if it folds well into the current engine.
Simplest approach: blast door is the suddenly appearing wall, which have less hitpoints than other, main walls.

In terms of the game, it may be just a kind of elevating platform (why we have only one broken elevator in "Bunker" mission?), very narrow platform. It may occupy (in fact) entire square ("enforced walls one square in thickness, around every single sector"), but be drawn as a fraction of square.
As I remember, vertically moving platforms were already implemented in ancient DOOM-2.

As to control interface, it may be a specific square inside command center. Then the defense tactics could look like: aftfer emergency closure of BDs, all but one defenders reaching their emergency positions and prepare. One remaining soldier (self-claimed "base commander") receives a reports of another ones and enters the "special square" for simultaneous opening of BDs when defenders are ready.

Offline Mayhem

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Re: Revise Initial Base Layout
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2008, 10:44:06 pm »
1. You can disable autobuild and set up your initial base as you want! (This is also a "cheat", because these buildings will be set up in no time, but whatever you build later - or to the autobuilded they will take days as usual.)

I tried this in my newly downloaded 2.3, and it did not supply me with an entrance, nor the option to build one.  Since some buildings have "entrance" as one of their pre-reqs, whilst I was able to build a base, very little worked.  (Power-plant has an "entrance" pre-req, and if it doesn't work it has a knock-on effect on those installations requiring the power plant)