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Offline Muton

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more strategy in 2.4
« on: January 06, 2011, 05:38:49 pm »
2.4-dev build
Date:   Wed Jan 5 07:00:18 2011 +0100

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I tried to enjoy dev-2.4 (medium difficulty) and i'm disappointed.
The game is nothing more than ground combat
Shoot down an ufo->ground combat
Rule 1: Leave harvesters alone, they are to strong.
and thats in a loop for (ingame)month.

Research is so slow
22 days and 8 scientists for a taman autopsy  ??? or have i assigned nuclear physicist for that job
Productions is also to slow.
I'm barely able to feed a coilgun with ammunition ( to much ground combat )
Researching a laser is out of a question!
Mid of mai and i got coilgun a taman autopsy and ufo theory
and a endless to do list

Aliens wearing already a body armor and a plasma gun :o
Without cheating you'll replay a map n times or loose your soldiers one by one

There is no strategy!
You can't focus on research, because there are no scientist available.
If you loose a soldier your are not able to replace him. There is no replacement!
Labs and workspace is so costly and space intensive you can't afford it.
Selling ufos is more likely a charity bazaar, meaning you get nearly nothing out of it.


My vote for 2.4 goes to strategy++
  • Pilots need stats too, ?ejecting?
  • A wounded soldier can be removed from the roster ( Doctors order )
  • A ground battle can only be 3 times repeated
  • A wounded soldier should receive a TU drop
  • Personal must cost something and should be available (if you do a good job, you can hire more people for less money)
  • A Base should have morale too (based on the fraction where it was build), faster science and construction (good local support)
  • The reword of selling an ufo should correspond with its "health" and bring money  :P
  • Scientists should be able to research machines to build weapons, ammunition, .... faster
  • Production|Disassembling and sell should bring in money, or you sell the blueprints of researched machines (price drop for the item).
  • Selling and buying should be based on the free market economy. If its rare its expensive ... (This way its not possible to produce just lasers and get rich)
  • The cost for a facility (radar) is based on the time needed to build it ( less time means more expensive ) and i need workers to do the job
  • Labs and Production facilities should be upgraded too, to disassemble ufos faster or do faster weapon research (must be researched and produced)
  • Scientist with stats. Engineers good4tech, Doctors good4autopsy, ....
  • Workers with stats. Nurse, cook, bricklayer, millhand, ....
  • Nurses needed for the hospital facility

Ok, we dont want a economy simulation
but more than now

Btw: The Taman death sound is horrible, it sounds like a pig

Offline bayo

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2011, 06:59:10 pm »
Quote
My vote for 2.4 goes to strategy++
:Maybe you should vote for 2.5 ;-)

Offline dodon

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2011, 10:18:57 pm »
Productions is also to slow.
I'm barely able to feed a coilgun with ammunition ( to much ground combat )

Just found there is a bug, that resets productiontime when you load a savegame. Maybe that is the reason for the slow production.

Offline Forral

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2011, 02:24:21 pm »
I do agree that the recruitment of Scientists, Workers and Pilots becomes a somewhat redundant feature unless there is an actual strategic element to recruiting them. As it stands I don't think there is. I have run into significant shortages of scientists that impede my work on staffing multiple laboratories, but other than simply restricting the speed of your research development I don't believe the requirement to hire these scientists actually add anything - which is unfortunate indeed. However for there to be an actual strategic element to their recruitment there would have to be multiple variables that makes their statistics vary from each other's. Due to the way research works, I'm not sure there's actually much room for such variation but I have a few of suggestions for such statistics nonetheless.

Scientist

Teamwork : Determines how good the scientist is at working with a group. At low levels it makes scientists less suitable for placement on projects with large quantities of scientists and labs involved, but at high levels they are more capable.

Patience : Determines how well the scientist can remain focused and interested when a project is lengthy to complete. This would require a penalty to overall efficiency on long projects that could then be adjusted or even eliminated by scientists' Patience.

Brilliance* : Determines the scientist's general contribution to research, and his capacity for hatching ideas. This makes him quite simply more efficient in any circumstance.

Administration : Determines how well the scientist can plan and lead. Only the highest Administrative statistic of involved scientists would be used, signifying the scientist as the project leader, and it would be used to reduce the inefficiency associated with complicated projects and projects that span multiple labs.

Physics : Determines how well the scientist grasps physics. It improves efficiency in weapon's and vehicle research as well as facilities.

Biology : Determines how well the scientist grasps Biology. It improves efficiency in Autopsies and helps in the studies of alien lifeforms.

Philosophy : Determines the speed of which the scientist that grasp the unknown. It improves efficiency in researching alien technology.


That's the only ones I could think of, but through these statistics you would get an element of strategy introduced to the allocation of scientists. For instance you may have hired a number of scientists that are incredibly poor at teamwork, so rather than pooling their efforts into a single project you split them over multiple projects, making individual research slower but with less loss of overall efficiency. Alternatively you might pool them together to attempt to rush an important technology, but lose some overall efficiency in the action. Do you put a highly capable Physicist to work with alien autopsies simply because his also high Administrative capabilities improves the otherwise poor teamwork of the working Biologists? Do you hire your scientists for the specific job at hand and then kick them out, or do you make your best of the scattered abilities of the scientists at your disposal? Though Brilliance remains key in what would make a scientist good, what sort of projects they are best used for would be determined by other statistics. I believe the above range of statistics could potentially be enough to add a layer of strategy to the hiring and allocation of scientists, and the statistics could with a bit of alteration probably be applied to the Workers in charge of manufacturing as well.

Pilots on the other hand would require an entirely different set of statistics.

* I picked Brilliance rather than Intelligence because intelligence would suggest that the Scientist would be more or less 'intelligent' which isn't the case at all. All scientists hired by Phalanx are presumably highly intelligent but are still more or less 'brilliant'.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 02:28:27 pm by Forral »

Offline Destructavator

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2011, 04:30:06 pm »
I have to agree with much of what Muton said, the game sure could use a bit more to make it more interesting.  I also agree with a good number of his ideas - not every single one, but most of them (I don't have much time right now to address each one by itself in this post).

I will take the time though to address just a few of the major issues mentioned that I think could really use some change:

- Production:  Yes, it is way too slow.  We already have special facilities in addition to bases (SAM sites, UFO Yards, Radar) - Why not have a factory or specialized production center of some kind?  I understand the realism of an individual workshop in a regular base being no match for a large, complete factory complex, but if Phalanx can have a hidden yard that can hold those big UFOs, why not a concealed factory somewhere?  It doesn't have to be too complicated, managing it would be making sure funds for it are available to maintain it and for building things, telling it what to build and how many, and occasional transfer of products to a base.

A factory or production center could be defended by SAM sites and nearby bases, and if a UFO lands and attacks, we already have the "industrial theme" RMA map stuff we can use.  This shouldn't take a whole lot of new material or anything to implement.

Or, could the player pay a supporting nation to build something for them?

- Sale of items: I think that there should be some items that only so many can be sold at a time, and others that can't be sold at all and have to be destroyed.  To sell something you have to have someone who wants to buy it - Implementing such rules would prevent the player from trying to make a profit just making things and selling them, while at the same time not having the player wait forever while getting so few things produced.

This also doesn't have to be too complicated, or involve too much work to implement, unwanted items are simply placed on a "for sale" list at the usual, fixed price, and as time goes by supporting nations will occasionally "buy" some of the items (things will disappear from that list) and funds will go to the player.  The player could also then have an option to destroy certain things that don't sell, if storage space is needed.

- Personnel: Rather than trying to implement all the supporting staff in a base (from nurses to secretaries to cleaning staff who scrub the toilets) it should be simple to add a "general staff" made up of nondescript people who do all that stuff, people who don't have to have individual stats or anything, not even first and last names.  In base defense missions these would be represented by civilian character models, and those that get killed result in a financial cost after the battle for replacing them.  I've seen various games do this type of thing and pull off implementation nicely, while at the same time not end up with too much micromanagement for the player.

I've more to say, but I'll have to get back to this later.

Offline H-Hour

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 10:04:49 pm »
I actually vote to keep the geoscape's management fairly "simple". The geoscape (strategic game) is already the most developed part of this game, way ahead of the battlescape (tactical game). If I wanted to have a complex world-strategic management game, I would play Civilization. What I loved about the X-Com games and what I am most interested in with UFOAI is the interaction between the geoscape and the battlescape -- what I do in one directly effects my advantages in the other.

First, let me say that in all honesty I don't play this game very much and have not gotten very far into the campaign. This is because I am most interested in the battlescape and currently it doesn't offer very compelling gameplay. I think this is due to three things:

Quote
1. Poor alien AI: I know how difficult this is, but without an intelligent AI it is not very interesting.

2. No visibility system: without it, there is no real exploration and it compresses maps into a very small perceptual space. This is most evident in maps where you spot all or almost all aliens in the first turn. Indoor maps get around this but it reduces the tactics available from long-range weapons.

3. Poorly designed maps: many of the maps are just not very interesting tactically. +city is one of the worst -- until more buildings come it will remain boring to play.
I know these things are on the roadmap and that's fine. I'm not posting this as a feature request and I know the game is moving forward. There are some things that are going well on the battlescape: I think we've got a great mixture of weapons that can support diverse strategies. That's one aspect of the game that is pretty well developed. And the reaction fire is a core battlescape function that adds lots of tactical depth.

That said, it seems to me that the majority of the feature requests we get involve the geoscape/storyline. I want to offer a few counter-intuitive ideas why that might be so:

  • First, it may be that we're not attracting players interested in the battlescape. Because it is so underdeveloped, those who stick with the game are more likely to be those who are interested in the wider strategic game.
  • Second, the balance for the campaign might simply be off. It seems many of the complaints revolve around mis-matched timing: too many missions in one month, too long for research/construction/disassembly, long stretches with no new research/alien activity. The first instinct may be to fill the geoscape with a new element, but perhaps we just need a better balance between the elements so that their interaction is more compelling. I know BTAxis was doing a lot of tuning on the campaign, but he may have lost interest.
  • Third, because the geoscape is the most completely functioning aspect of the game, it's also the part of the game that is easiest to make suggestions for. The suggestions are smaller and more compartmentalized. Wherever there is an opportunity for these kinds of suggestions, they multiply. The battlescape gets many requests for new weapons/aliens, but very few requests for refining its core gameplay. This is also evident with the storyline. Because it's one of the most well-developed parts of the game, we get a lot of suggestions for changing it.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts. I don't mean to make the geoscape game uninteresting. But my vote is to not go too crazy with micromanagement on the geoscape and to focus on the back and forth between geoscape and battlescape. I would generally vote to minimize game functions that don't have some effect in both worlds.

For example: I'm not too bothered by giving scientists/mechanics stats, as it just makes one more thing to micromanage. But air combat is such a crucial part of the geoscape that giving pilots flight stats makes sense even though they won't matter on the battlescape.

Another example: I like having as many buildings as possible be part of the base because then the choices I make in the base layout effect the battlescape when defending. That's why I would be hesitant to offload manufacturing as well.

Offline Lew Yard

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2011, 08:42:46 am »
The reaction fire and overall battlefield mechanics work pretty well.  There are some fairly glaring omissions (more finely tuned aiming would be very appropriate for the map with pipe-like tunnels -- construction site?  It breaks immersion when there's an obvious opportunity to shove a grenade through a slot and the game simply won't let you; material is generally not destructible; et al) but what's there works pretty well.

Thing is, it's too mechanical.  One may do multiple extremely similar missions per game day, each basically a mechanical by-the-numbers clearing operation, mostly with little difference.  The civvies act the same, the aliens act the same, there's little functional difference beyond pure structure of maps (for instance, the temperature difference between a wintry industrial map and a jungle map apparently counts for nothing; there's no tracks in snow on snowy maps, no fauna fleeing in sudden alarm at movement on more natural maps.   And -many- missions end in a bog-standard harvester sweep pretty much the same way every time.  The most 'different' maps might be the stadium and the office complex, due to LOS.)

And it's for little reward.  Character stat gains don't matter nearly as much when you know that random luck might mean that you'll get a recruit whose better starting stats will easily let him catch up and then out-pace your grizzled team leader.  For long stretches, all that captured equipment means is that you get to pay the bills, because having more doesn't speed the hideously long research times, and even if you've sold hundreds of plasma rifles and massive ammo stocks to go with 'em as well as vast numbers of alien ships you'll *never* see a single individual who isn't an employee *ever* take inspiration and offer any resistance to the aliens.  Ever.  Major governments go "thank you please, now simply get back to work while we sit on our hands."  This continues even if you shoot down every single UFO for a whole game-year, deliver arsenals worth, demonstrate that sound tactics let the humans prevail over aliens in every engagement even on the offense with numerical inferiority (given that one can currently face 8-on-9 scenarios), that your 'sponsors' don't do anything suggesting that they're actually worth saving given that they put absolutely no effort into helping themselves.

Do they ever build a radar facility and provide you intel?  No.
Do they ever take a single alien craft you've provided, arm it with the weapons you've salvaged, and take on an alien?  No.
Is there ever any evidence at all that an alien terror mission has encountered resistance, even when it's at a military facility?  No.
Do they ever provide any heavy support in missions?  No.
Do they ever do any research on the things you've sold, and share findings?  No.
Do they ever make any attempt to drive away an incursion?  No.
Do they ever even bother offering analysis and sitrep regarding what you're facing in a mission?  No.
Do they ever ask what you might need, and help to build it, even for a price?  No.

So why fight for 'em?

Offline H-Hour

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2011, 10:13:52 am »
Lew Yard, everything you mention is "missing" on the battlescape is essentiallly a suspension of disbelief issue and (other then destructable terrain) would have a marginal effect on the tactical game.

Offline Destructavator

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2011, 10:29:41 am »
I have to agree that things are a bit "too mechanical" and even monotonous at times - we really could use more mission types.

The fact that downed pilot rescue missions are eventually coming (from what I've heard) are nice, but we really need some variety in normal missions.  There needs to be more than just "aliens landed/crashed at this spot, we have to neutralize every single one to end the mission successfully."

Perhaps we could use some missions where the player is *not* expected to kill or stun every single alien, but do something else instead than leave (with a little tweaking of the "abort mission" parts of the code, perhaps, the player can win if they "abort" or exit after doing something).

- Recon:  To me this sounds quite realistic:  Go to a location where lots of aliens are around and simply spot one or a few of them, then get out of there.  This could be done if a base is detected, the mission would be around the exterior of the base and the player would *not* be expected to go inside, but just gather info for a later assault mission.  This could also be done in a ground mission where XVI has taken control.

- Rescue:  Very similar to getting back a fallen pilot, this would just be finding one or more abducted civilians and getting them out.

- "Tagging":  If a UFO lands and is too big and powerful to have shot down earlier, and has too many aliens for the player at that stage of the game, why not have troops sneak up to the craft and attach a bug, tracking device, or otherwise "tag" the ship (or plant something right inside) for gathering more info when it takes off?

- Capture:  Like a rescue mission, except taking a hostile unit to an exit spot, to later be interrogated and researched.

Offline kompan

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2011, 04:28:02 pm »
Hello all,

First of all, my big thanks and appreciations to all involved in developing UFO:AI! I've been playing the original UFO on Amiga ages ago, and since then missed this game. Now I can again spend some time fighting aliens, but in new improved 3d environment and with great music :)

Before continuing, I have to admit that I am playing the ancient unsupported 2.2.1 version for Mac PPC, which is amazingly stable and  - except 2-3 small issues - I had no crashes or problems so far. Anyway, before posting I have read the Proposals section and most of forum threads to get the picture of the development status - but if in my text I missed some options that are already implemented, please forgive me.

Now, to the point. I have seen lots of excellent ideas proposed on the forum, that would expand the plyability, realism and player-experience. One that catched my attention, was a suggestion to increase battlescape mission diversity, include region happiness factor and interaction with civilians or other local forces. So far (please note my 2.2.1) we have strictly "soldiers vs aliens on map" plus wandering NPC characters that sometimes get killed. I will try to describe a few modifications that - I hope - would bring some, ahem, more realism into battling aliens scenario.

In short:
Including NPCs into conflict as an active participant, providing various feedback or hints that player may find useful. Communication prompt indicated as small marker over civilians head. Info displayed as simple text messages or perhaps small popup window with text and person face.

Background:
We are civilians living in a town, village, working in factory etc. and suddenly, from the blue sky - the aliens invaded! Shooting, killing, pillaging, abducting and skreeking "die puny earthlings". Few hours later arrives the Phalanx squad and starts fighting back the alien scum. How would the local civilians react and what can influence their behaviour?

Of course most of the civilians will hide and wait, run in panic or get accidentally killed by explosion or standing in fireline. But some of them, seeing how soldiers are fighting the aliens, might try to help them and share some advice, depending on many factors. Being a local that knows the surrounding area, would you signal the special forces' soldier that his enemy is hiding near? Or would you just hide and watch what is happening?

Terms in general:

  • We can assume that eg. only 1 out of 3 civilians would try to communicate, we don't want role-playing with everybody talking to everybody. Having 10 civilians on the map, maybe 3 of them would be helpful. With some randomization it would give maybe 1-2 hints while mission, without overusing this feature.
  • The factor above may be modified by region happiness and Phalanx reputation. If civilians know the soldiers are doing good job, they will be more friendly to them. But if player has killed some civilians (on some missions before or in this region), they will not cooperate, or act unfriendly.

The interaction/communication can be divided into few types, eg:

  • On drop zone we can have sometimes a civilian (or local authority) meeting soldiers and giving general information about the enemy - "They came from the north", "They have flying drones", "They abducting people for experiments". Player may guess alien ship location, alien race or their mission type (scientific). This can be helpful with "fog of war" enabled on the map and possibly allow rearming squad at the dropship, accordingly to the enemy type.
  • On the map we can have civilian warn the soldier about something. If the local person knows there is an alien in close range (eg. in radius of 10 steps, on other side of the wall, on the roof etc.) and the civilian sees approaching soldier - who does not see enemy - he may give him a hint - "One of them is somewhere around", "There are hiding near", "Watch for the roofs". Of course having soldiers equipped with some advanced alien-locating gizmos would make this advice unnecessary.
  • On the map civilians may express their opinion about overall player score and reputation. If the Phalanx forces arrived quickly on terror site, some may greet them "Good you are here". Skipping or failing some missions will cause bad fame and the civilians instead of helping would just make accusations "You do nothing to help us!". On the other hand, using heavy weapons and explosives may result in "Thats my shop you just blew up!". May sound silly, but reminds that we act in populated area and should not just nuke all region from the orbit to be sure.
  • On the map the civilians could sometimes hide (crouch) or be wounded and call for help. Hiding civilian may indicate near alien. Healing wounded civilian is not obligatory, but would increase mission ranking and player reputation. Wounded may also have important information.
  • Civilians move on alien turn, they can approach soldiers or run away from them. Communication can be initiated in player turn, when soldier is 3-5 steps from civilian having "speak marker" over head. Message can be displayed as one line of text, or as small dialog window with NPC person.

Implementation:

In my humble opinion, should not be very complicated, however I understand if devs disagree with me :)
Extension of battlescape includes following elements:

  • computing player reputation, depending on overall mission ranking, region happiness and current map activity
  • adding communication markers to a number of NPCs per map
  • adding ability to display text message after clicking on NPC with marker
  • trigger communication marker on soldier approach
  • detect combination: civilian + soldier + unseen alien
  • hint types randomized or given in order of importance: near alien warning, general situation info, player score opinion or other stuff
  • allow NPCs to approach soldiers, hide, get wounded or run away

I believe the key to make this feature work, is unique list of various messages or hints that will not repeat in each mission and therefore keep the player interested in exploring them. I hope some of the ideas may help to enrich the gaming experience. And if I have more of these, I will not hesitate to share :)

Offline Hertzila

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2011, 06:16:23 pm »
At the very least there should be a way for one of my soldiers (a predecessor to an actual communication button, if anything from the upper post is going to be implemented) to tell a civilian to head to a dropship/safe location/somewhere if they're just crouching somewhere.

Offline Lew Yard

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Re: more strategy in 2.4
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2011, 11:24:16 am »
Regarding civvies, it would not be unreasonable for some of them to also have boarded themselves up in the most secure facility they could find (which fits neatly into a timed rescue situation, i.e. barricade is over and mission failed if aliens occupy certain spots for X amount of time).  Or for some civvies to happen to be much more important or useful than others, with implications for national happiness or employment (e.g. gaining a volunteer who'll have a significantly reduced cost if hired).

One could also see the odd scenario where the objective is to use nonlethal force (as much as possible, anyway) only in order to escort somebody through or to disperse rioting mobs (fairly realistic in the face of alien invasion, I'd say...) but that would distract from the alien-human confrontation and place PHALANX more in a police role.  Probably not advised.

Other fairly traditional missions are to defend or destroy a particular facility, with 'destruction' again perhaps achieved by having relatively undisturbed occupation of a victory zone for a certain amount of time -- e.g. defending a manufacturing facility whose loss might reduce the availability of stuff in the market, defending a dam or reactor or other strategically sensitive facility where sabotage or destruction might be catastrophic, that sort of thing.  Some missions might offer a nasty choice -- for an extreme example, if aliens are assaulting a nuclear weapons launch site, at what point do you give up on defending it intact and attempt to destructively seal the entrance or otherwise permanently block access in order to prevent it from somehow being used against you?

Two random ideas that might increase tension:

- One, if the IR goggles couldn't distinguish human from alien (thus making building clearing much more perilous)... and

- Two, if there data banks in alien craft that would potentially yield substantial research... but rewarded aggressivness and speed, because an alien in the cockpit could initiate deletion and would start doing so once alien casualties mounted to the point where a reasonable alien would conclude DOOM