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Author Topic: Variable civilian death toll impact  (Read 1731 times)

Offline Rodmar

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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).