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Author Topic: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback  (Read 15708 times)

Offline damiac

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Hi Guys,

I just tried this game (version 2.5 release) over this weekend, and it's a lot of fun.  Great job!

I have some feedback, it's a bit rambling but oh well:

1. Reaction Fire mechanics aren't very well explained in game.  There's already a battlescape tutorial, perhaps a little more explanation on how RF works, how to choose a fire mode, etc would help.  That picture on the forum with all the callouts to the various elements is really helpful, it'd be great if that could be integrated into the game.

2. UFO Types: I'm not great at remembering things just by a picture.  I know my interceptors can shoot down some ships, but they're too weak for others. Unfortunately, if I haven't captured a ship yet, the game doesn't tell me what type it is, so the only way I can figure out to differentiate them is their top speed, which I think isn't unique to any given UFO.  It'd be nice if the unknown UFO types had some kind of descriptor, even if it's just Large, medium, and small, so I can stop suiciding my interceptors on UFOs they can't possibly beat.

3. Maps & Cover: From reading here, I know it's a known problem, but I want to stress that some maps have just brutal layouts, where your troops are just standing out in the middle of a field with aliens around when you start the mission.  Some maps just don't seem to have enough cover available.  I know smoke grenades can help with that to a degree, but it would be nice if the maps were a bit more neutral, instead of favoring the aliens so much.

4. Battlescape Saving: I know, I know, it's a taboo, with good reasons, but hear me out.  If you read on this forum how people play the game, and how slowly you have to play sometimes to be safe, it's not unheard of for people to say some missions, when played well, take upwards of 3-5 hours.  Most people don't just have blocks of 3-5 hours to devote to a game, so their only choice is to either leave the program running, or to save it in a VM.  However, there are plenty of roguelike games that prevent save scumming, yet still realize their players might not be able to finish the entire game in a sitting.  That's why my proposal is that the battlescape should allow a "Save&Quit" function, and when you reload that save, the game would delete it.  This prevents savescumming, while still allowing someone with limited time to fully enjoy this game, just like how most roguelikes do it.

That's all I have.  I saved the best for last, really the ability to play out extended battlescape situations over multiple play sessions would be huge.  I haven't seen this exact proposal before, so I thought it was at least worth throwing out there.

Offline ShipIt

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2015, 08:08:05 am »
...
3. Maps & Cover: From reading here, I know it's a known problem, but I want to stress that some maps [name the map(s) in question, attach a screenshot to illustrate] have just brutal layouts, where your troops are just standing out in the middle of a field with aliens around when you start the mission.  Some maps [name the map(s) in question, attach a screenshot to illustrate] just don't seem to have enough cover available.  I know smoke grenades can help with that to a degree, but it would be nice if the maps [put in the names, attach a screenshot to illustrate] were a bit more neutral, instead of favoring the aliens so much.
...

Just a suggestion.

Offline anonymissimus

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2015, 03:50:14 pm »
4. Battlescape Saving: I know, I know, it's a taboo, with good reasons, but hear me out.  If you read on this forum how people play the game, and how slowly you have to play sometimes to be safe, it's not unheard of for people to say some missions, when played well, take upwards of 3-5 hours.  Most people don't just have blocks of 3-5 hours to devote to a game, so their only choice is to either leave the program running, or to save it in a VM.  However, there are plenty of roguelike games that prevent save scumming, yet still realize their players might not be able to finish the entire game in a sitting.  That's why my proposal is that the battlescape should allow a "Save&Quit" function, and when you reload that save, the game would delete it.  This prevents savescumming, while still allowing someone with limited time to fully enjoy this game, just like how most roguelikes do it.

That's all I have.  I saved the best for last, really the ability to play out extended battlescape situations over multiple play sessions would be huge.  I haven't seen this exact proposal before, so I thought it was at least worth throwing out there.
This so-called taboo is garbage out of a bad reason and an easy excuse for not needing to implement and maintain battlescape saves. Something that's true for all parts of the code however. People will always find a way to cheat if they desire to anyway. In those roguelikes mentioned you just have to copy the savefile while the game is shut down and copy back after quit. In UFO:AI you can cheat in other ways already, such as saving immediately before playing a battle and retrying if it doesn't go well enough. Just in case the "retry" feature gets removed.
Moreover, the lack of battlescape saves make reproduction of battlescape bugs a nightmare and thus leads to instability.
Lastly, whenever maps are redone, they tend to grow larger than they had been. Thus the time needed to play maps has increased over the years. At some point UFO:AI becomes unplayable without battlescape saves. This was not thought of at the time this so-called taboo was instantiated I presume.

Offline ShipIt

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2015, 04:20:43 pm »
... an easy excuse for not needing to implement and maintain battlescape saves. ...

If this would actually be true, I would say we at least have an excuse.

And I would ask, what is yours?

Offline anonymissimus

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2015, 05:29:12 pm »
And I would ask, what is yours?
Until recently the fact that UFO:AI could not be compiled with MSVC while I'm not quite used to developing on Linux. As of now, more the fact that I always lacked the hardware to compile big projects as fast as I want and probably the issue that I would need MSVC 2013 for UFO:AI, using hwoarangmy's recent work.
I'd be happy if it could be agreed upon that the taboo is bad and it would be nice to have battlescape saves anyway but we lack the time or whatever.

Offline damiac

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2015, 07:27:51 pm »
I get you, screenshots and specific examples would obviously be more helpful than general complaints. Fair enough.

Back to the subject of battlescape saves, I know it's contentious, and I'm not trying to pick fights, just present the reality that I (and I assume lots of other people) don't necessarily have big contiguous blocks of time to devote to a game, but nevertheless, we enjoy games that take more than 10 minutes to play.  So a roguelike system of saving seems to address the primary concern of creating a new tedious but optimal way to play, while also addressing the concern that not everyone can spend 3 hours on a big battle.

I'm aware there are ways to cheat that, but as it's a single player game, there's no getting around that, and who cares if someone cheats on their own anyway? By keeping that opportunity out of the game's interface, at least the game itself doesn't encourage it, which is the most you should really try to do anyway.  In nethack I can back up my character if I really want to, but there's no button in the game to do so, so most people don't.  And nobody can complain to the nethack devs that it's boring to keep reloading their save and trying a tough battle again, because they didn't offer that option in the first place.

I know implementing battlescape saving takes work, and that the dev team is plenty busy on other stuff, but I think if the team would just say "Patches welcome for battlescape save&quit function" it might encourage someone to do it, rather than the current dev line of "We don't want it and it would ruin the game because you'll play in a boring way".  In other words, I'm asking for a small change to the project philosophy, not a change to the game itself. I'm hoping the change in philosophy might allow someone else to take it upon themselves to actually do the work, knowing it'll get into the game, rather than being relegated to a "cheat mod".

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my comments.  And like I said, great work so far, this is a fun game even as is, which only makes me want to help in whatever small way I can to polish it and make it even better. 

Offline ShipIt

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2015, 09:13:22 pm »
... if the team would just say "Patches welcome for battlescape save&quit function" ...

Actually, this is exactly how the team always thought about this.

Offline damiac

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2015, 09:57:53 pm »
Oh, that's interesting.  I saw a post by Geever that pretty much said no, we don't want battlescape saving.  Perhaps that was just an old post or something.

Ok then, so it's resource scarcity thing rather than a design philosophy thing.  That's a big improvement in my mind!  The community can provide resources, but they can't go against the design philosophy.

Offline hwoarangmy

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2015, 10:04:19 pm »
Until recently the fact that UFO:AI could not be compiled with MSVC while I'm not quite used to developing on Linux. As of now, more the fact that I always lacked the hardware to compile big projects as fast as I want and probably the issue that I would need MSVC 2013 for UFO:AI, using hwoarangmy's recent work.
Note that it might also work with MSVS2012 as I don't think much c++11 features are used. There might be minor changes to do (for non standard microsoft functions) but I guess it would be pretty easy to setup.
Concerning compilation with MSVS2013, I recommand to use the bundle
https://sourceforge.net/projects/ufoai/files/UFO_AI%202.x/2.5/ufoai-deps.zip/download
You just have to unzip it somewhere and set UFOAI_DEPS environment variable (or use cmake to set UFOAI_DEPENDENCIES) to the path where you unzipped the bundle.

Back to the subject, I agree being allowed to save in the battlescape would be a great improvement. For having read some UFOAI documentation, the "excuse" of the taboo is almost official and I've already seen that they ask people interested to go for a patch (as ShipIt just did).
For having done that for another open source game (Open Dungeons if you want to know), it is not straightforward and pretty hard to maintain.

For my part, I've recently tried a game with 2.6 version (I had previously finished 2.5). I stopped a few weeks ago after a little bit more than 100 battles because I have a new fight in a big map (bunker if I remember well) with many corridors. I tried to play it but after more than 1 hour, I lost patience and started to send troops everywhere to see if I could find the last remaining bloodspiders. In fact, I faced at least 1 ortnok and 1 taman. I got tired of searching for them and stopped the game.
IMHO, the worst is the alien being so passive. In big maps with small rooms, you can loose ages searching fo that last alien staying in that room. And when you send your troops, you have no choice but to suicide at least 1 canon fodder to expose it a little. I know maps are currently getting bigger and that's not a good thing IMHO.

Offline anonymissimus

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2015, 11:58:25 pm »
Geever has his own opinion.
None can ignore my points about battlescape bug reproduction and increasing map sizes however.
I wonder how much devs play the game still ? Naturally, developing a game time-conflicts with playing it - perhaps there was more interest in battlescape saves if devs had more time for playing ? When did you last play one of those 5+ hours attacks on an alien base ?

Offline Noordung

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2015, 12:36:47 am »
This so-called taboo is garbage out of a bad reason and an easy excuse for not needing to implement and maintain battlescape saves. Something that's true for all parts of the code however. People will always find a way to cheat if they desire to anyway. In those roguelikes mentioned you just have to copy the savefile while the game is shut down and copy back after quit. In UFO:AI you can cheat in other ways already, such as saving immediately before playing a battle and retrying if it doesn't go well enough. Just in case the "retry" feature gets removed.
Moreover, the lack of battlescape saves make reproduction of battlescape bugs a nightmare and thus leads to instability.
Lastly, whenever maps are redone, they tend to grow larger than they had been. Thus the time needed to play maps has increased over the years. At some point UFO:AI becomes unplayable without battlescape saves. This was not thought of at the time this so-called taboo was instantiated I presume.
actually there was very big map with a house and all walls around house in 2.4 never saw that map after 2.4 only part where there is house with basement and helipad exists. that map got smaller, but it still takes a lot of time. while i would actually like to see battlescape save also beter AI would solve long battlescape play. AI that would find you better like they do now.

Offline Rodmar

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2015, 02:05:12 am »
As for v2.5, this map comes in several version indeed.
The largest one is still used, when it's an harvest mission (or whatever?), with a Harvester landed on the heliport, and the Phalanx transporter on the tennis court.
As the harvest missions become scarce in the late game (why, by the way?), it's no wonder you don't see this map very often after a while.

On this map, and its little sisters, you end in knowing where the alien spawns so that it gets a little quicker, because they don't open certain doors.

Back to the topic of time consuming maps, I think that the alien base or the base defence are exceptions, and well, a few long maps won't hurt. In the first half of 2085, the most long maps are now those with a landed corrupter. I believe I rather shot them down into the sea when I have powerful enough interceptors...


Offline ShipIt

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2015, 07:03:31 am »
Those problems are well known. However, saving the battlescape will not solve them, it would be more of a workaround. The goal should be to keep the time required to play a mission within a reasonable range.

In 2.6-dev, alienbase, basedefence and mansion maps are already using mission targets to give players a shortcut in those scenarios. I was thinking about doing the same for mission with large UFOs, not sure about that, though.
Next step would be to find a way to adapt the map size to the number of actors involved, which unfortunately is a major task.


Geever has his own opinion.
None can ignore my points about battlescape bug reproduction and increasing map sizes however.
I wonder how much devs play the game still ? Naturally, developing a game time-conflicts with playing it - perhaps there was more interest in battlescape saves if devs had more time for playing ? When did you last play one of those 5+ hours attacks on an alien base ?

I am sure geever spent more time for this game than you did. So I doubt you are in a good position to question him.
I am for sure would be able to ignore whatever you write if I just wanted to.
I do. Yes, it naturally does, as one can do only one of those things at a time - doubt about the latter. Never - maybe I just don´t care enough about my squaddies.

Offline Rodmar

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2015, 01:17:59 pm »
It seems so.

Is it the map and the AI, or is it the way we play?

I mean that if I'd play more aggressively like the nowadays military, or as is depicted in the Hive Mind novel, the missions would be a lot shorter (12  soldiers squad): take cover, run, ... and if no cover, then crouch; no smoke/anti-alien gas/fire grenades to secure your path and your back. I realize that I tend to wait for all these effects to end, before I can launch another ones and jump to the next secure location. I wait for the aliens to wander in the open and face 4 guns, or I move blindly into the smoke, and send forth a scout at the beginning of each turn to say pick-a-boo and unleash hell on the poor aliens who asked themselves where I was gone. I play very defensively because I don't want ANY loss and sometimes the aliens do use their full TUs. I would be ashamed to post on YT a video of a storming of a corrupter: it can take one hour or more if there are 5-6 aliens inside!

Reflecting on my way of playing, and comparing to other game types, it's quite the same: I'm a defensive, cautious, turtle gamer. Back to Starcraft 1, I would take hours to fully build base, secure expansions, and finally move toward the enemy base. I won every time (against the AI). Not because of my tactical skill, just by exhaustion, the AI having no more resources left and having spent all of them on suicide, non coordinated attacks... Btw, it's why I shun Warcraft and the like: they were designed for aggressive players, who don't care about the death of their units (more are coming behind).

Offline damiac

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Re: New user, with a suggestion you've heard 100 times, and some feedback
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2015, 03:22:13 pm »
Yes, more consistent map size and better alien AI would help with long mission times, but still, battlescape saves are always going to be a helpful thing, you never know when you'll be interrupted to deal with real life, or maybe you have 20-30 mins to play sometimes, but can't commit to a full battle. 

I know this is a big task, but it would be nice if the game didn't select big maps, like the military base, or the military bunker, when there's only 3-4 aliens to fight.  They're easy scenarios, but it's not a fight to overcome the aliens, it's a fight to continue playing safely for 2 hours instead of just having my guys run around like idiots so I can just finish the mission already.  I have lost quite a few soldiers that way, and it's unfortunate that the most optimal way to play is so tedious on those sparsely populated maps.

Still, from what I understand the AI is much better than it was in 2.4, so obviously you guys are making improvements.