Proposals/Obsolete Proposals/Skills, Abilities, Weapons adjustments

From UFO:AI
The proposals on this page are mostly obsolete. The weapons were heavily rebalanced for 2.5 and the heavy skill was removed. But there is no reaction ability as detailed below and the actual damagetypes vs. aliens matchup may not match the specification below. --H-hour 14:14, 7 October 2012 (SAST)

What's the goal?

There are three things I want to accomplish with these changes. First, I want to encourage a match between skill-type and tactical-role. This will encourage the player to take and train a diverse set of skills so that they are prepared to face a diverse set of tactical problems in battle. It should also increase the benefit of a player understanding and employing several different strategies.

Second, I want to diversify the damagetypes/resistances so that more weapons are relevant late in the game as well as in multiplayer. I also want to simplify the damageweights system so that the player can easily and clearly understand how a given weapon will impact a given soldier/alien/armor (currently the damageweights information is hidden from the player).

Third, I want to simplify reaction fire and isolate it as a trainable ability. I hope this will make it more clear to the player his chances in any reaction fire match-up. I want to do this by making a new Reflexes ability which is separate from Speed. By doing this, there may be future possibilities we can explore, such as aliens with high TU but poor reaction fire (or the opposite), using a reflexes ability to effect a soldier's chance at spotting an enemy when the visibility system is implemented, implants that improve reaction/vision rather than general speed, etc.

The Changes

Skills/Weapons

The following changes are designed to encourage a link between a Skill and a particular tactical situation. In any given combat problem, a particular skill ought to offer a more or less effective way of resolving the problem. Here is a rough outline of the skill-situation matchup:

Close
Indoors and other close-quarters situations where force must be powerful and quick, but not necessarily accurate.
Explosive
Combat matchups where indirect fire or splash damage are most effective (enemies behind walls or groups of enemies).
Assault
Mobile assault manuevering, competency at mid-range against a variety of enemies, and squad support where soldiers may need to fire and find cover.
Sniper
Long-range encounters.

To achieve this, I suggest the following changes:

1. Remove the Heavy weapon skill (redistribution of these weapons below).

2. Make all aimed shot firedefs use the Sniper weapon skill. Make all snapshot, burst or automatic firemodes use the Assault weapon skill. This would have the effect of making a dedicated Sniper's "snap shot" mode less effective, increasing his role as a slow, patient killer. It would also narrow the Assault specialist to be more of a skirmisher because it would be more important to reduce the distance between them and an enemy. The downside would be an additional layer of complexity for the player. They will no longer be able to think in terms of weapon=skill, it will now be firemode=skill, which may seem counter-intuitive at first.

3. Reduce the distance of the flamethrower (3 tiles) and make it a Close weapon skill to give close specialists a powerful early-game weapon.

4. Remove the burst firemode for the grenade launcher. It is overpowered, particularly in the early-game. A cluster munition could be introduced in the late-game with a new tech (plasma, perhaps) if desired.

5. Turn the Plasma Blaster into a shotgun-like Close skill weapon with poor accuracy/range but high damage. Will require changes to the research text, but the text already has some inaccuracies.

Given these changes, the weapon distribution by skill set would be:

Close
pistols, smg, shotguns, plasma blaster, blades, stunrod, flamethrower, stungrenade
Explosive
grenades (except stun), grenade launcher, RPGs
Assault
(snap shots for all rifles and sniper weapons), machineguns, heavy laser, plasma weapons
Sniper
(precision shots for rifles), sniper, coilgun, needler, bolter

Damage Types

Two general ideas for changing how damage types work. The first is to to implement particular characteristics for damagetypes, so that each damagetype has its own strength and weaknesses. This can be done entirely through the UFO scripts and requires no back-end changes.

The second change is to remove the dependence for normal_blast, normal_heavy, normal_light etc. All soldiers, aliens and armor should only have resistance values for the damage types (normal,fire,laser,plasma,pbeam,etc) and resistance values for the sub-types (light, medium, heavy, blast, spray). This will allow the player to get an accurate view of the power/resistance of any weapon/armor at a quick glance. But it requires a change in the backend.

The idea of the following setup is to ensure that each damagetype is relevant throughout much of the game. It is based on the assumption that we will have more aliens including dedicated mechanics and organics. See the alien bestiary: Proposals/Alien Bestiary

Normal: medium damage vs. all enemies
Fire: strong vs. organics, weak vs. mechanics
Laser: medium vs. all, weapons have high accuracy/weak power
Plasma: medium vs. all, weapons have low accuracy/strong power
ParticleBeam: strong vs. mechanics, weak vs. organics and lightly armored mechanics
Shock: medium vs. all
Stun (electric): strong vs. mechanics, weak vs. organics
Stun (gas): strong vs. organics, weak vs. mechanics

The sub-types of damage would work roughly like this:

light: medium vs. organics, weak vs. mechanics and any armor
medium: strong vs. organics, medium vs. mechanics and light armors
heavy: strong vs. organics, strong vs. mechanics and light/medium armors
blast: strong vs. organics, strong vs. mechanics and all armors
spray: strong vs. organics, weak vs. mechanics and any armor

Abilities

A sketch of how the abilities currently work or how I think they ought to work.

Strength (not implemented)

- The weight a soldier can carry (not currently implemented)
- Soldier gets a weight value up to a certain limit, at which point the soldier is considered "encumbered". When encumbered, additional weight reduces the soldier's maximum TUs.
- The ability increases each time an encumbered soldier fires his weapon or makes a psi-attack. TUs spent moving do not count because it would be easy to abuse.

Accuracy (implemented)

- Improves soldier accuracy for any weapon or firemode.

Mind (partially implemented)

- Effects soldier morale and psionic attack strength (psionics not implemented)
- Battle experience increases mind strength. Early missions should improve mind quickly, while latter missions improve it slowly. For instance, a new recruit should have weak mind, but after a few missions they should settle in and mind increases should come more slowly.
- Special events could provide special bonuses for mind: being wounded, surviving a mission in which many soldiers die, killing an enemy at close range, etc.
- Psionic-related mechanics to be decided later when the psionic system is in place.

Reflexes (not implemented)

- Higher values improve chance to use reaction fire. Could also effect chance to spot an enemy.
- Use of reaction fire increases reflexes. When visibility system implemented, gaining first sight of an alien could also provide a small boost.
- Distance to target could effect reaction fire bonus. A reaction shot taken from a long distance could be worth less than a reaction shot taken closely. This could be a disincentive to abusing the system while keeping soldiers at a safe distance.

Implementation (Spring 2012, 2.5-dev)

The following will outline the changes made for players to track and some of the concepts behind them.

Sniper Weapons

Unit is less maneuverable, but more deadly when properly set up.
- Damage and accuracy increased for all aimed shots (one shot - one kill as much as possible).
- TU cost of all firemodes and reloading increased.
- Accuracy increase when crouched is more exaggerated than other weapons.
- Snap shot accuracy is very poor due to weapons being large and unwieldy

Sniper Rifle: Squad marksman rifle. Minor accuracy trade-off for less TUs spent firing/reloading.

- TU for Aimed Shot increased to 20
- Avg Damage increased to 130
- Ammo capacity increased to 8

Electromagnetic Rifle (Bolter): Quintessential sniper rifle. Very accurate and deadly, but huge TU costs. As an early research item, it should be a good step up against armor.

- TU for Aimed shot increased to 28
- TU for reload increased to 20
- Avg Damage increased to 140, damagetype set to normal_heavy
- Ammo capacity reduced to two

Coilgun: Powerful squad marksman rifle. Minor accuracy trade-off for power, but more TUs will be sent firing/reloading than Sniper Rifle.

- TU for Aimed Shot increased to 24
- Avg Damage increased to 160, damagetype set to normal_heavy
- Ammo capacity increased to 4