Proposals/Temporary Options for Large Alien Teams on Small Maps

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Currently there is a problem from the middle to the late game with large alien teams appearing on small maps. This is extremely difficult and forces the player to over-rely on exploits like hiding in smoke, etc. At the moment the game does not choose a map appropriate for alien team size, so it is quite frequent in the late-game to get small maps with large teams.

Map definitions have a maxaliens parameter, but this is used for campaign, skirmish and multiplayer. Because of this, I long ago set the maxaliens parameter very high for all maps, so that players can try out a skirmish with tons of aliens (in skirmish I only need one survivor to win, after all, but in the campaign I need a better survival rate!).

This causes some problems when trying to use this to balance campaign missions. I can think of two solutions to this for 2.5, which do not require adding in size-criteria to the map selection code (which has its own problems regarding map variety). Both involve limiting alien team size based on the map, which means it will be possible to face large UFOs with few aliens, which is not ideal. But to address this properly without reverting back to too much map repetition, we need to assess our map collection and consider a more long-term solution.

The easy solution

We just preference the campaign over skirmish, and revise the maxaliens parameter to be appropriate for campaign balance. Skirmish now has an "Alien Rush" mode the user can select to spawn infinite enemies, and the campaign is the core of the game anyway. But Skirmish and Coop players will face low arbitrary limits on alien team size.

The organised solution

We can use the map parameters to set up separate map definitions for campaign, skirmish and multiplayer maps, and split them into separate files (maps_campaign, maps_skirmish, maps_multiplayer). This will allow us to have specific control for each gametype, which fits the more long-term goal to develop the gametypes separately. But doing a large restructuring of the map files this close to 2.5's release would risk introducing errors that could stop maps from spawning properly in the campaign. And it would be more script files to maintain over time.

Duplicating the scripts is certainly a no-go. But what about maxaliens_campaign, maxaliens_skirmish and maxaliens_multiplayer params ? --Duke 21:05, 4 March 2013 (SAST)

  • If I recall, mattn didn't really want the gametypes involved like this, but of course we already have parameters for whether a map is available for campaign/skirmish/multiplayer. --H-hour 22:43, 4 March 2013 (SAST)
  • Not to be too pedantic, but the scripts wouldn't actually be "duplicated". We'd just have separate entries for different gametypes (we already do the same thing for different assemblies, multiplayer-specific maps or skirmish-only maps, we just throw them all into one file). --H-hour 22:43, 4 March 2013 (SAST)
    • Even if the # of script files would be constant, they would be 3 times as long, right ? ==> no go. --Duke 23:24, 4 March 2013 (SAST)
  • If we use the ids from gamemodes.ufo like e.g. maxaliens for all gametypes, maxaliens_multiplayer for well... multiplayer and so on, I would be fine with it. We can also override it with a gametype block e.g.
mapdef africa_large
	map				"+africa"
	param			"large"
	description		"_African Village"
	multiplayer		true
	teams			2
	gametypes (
	maxaliens		30
       skirmish {
              maxaliens 10
              description "_Some descriptive text"

	civilianteam	africa



	(--H-hour 14:14, 5 March 2013 (SAST)


    • the problem here is, that it would not be possible to add a mod with a new gametype because one would have to override all the mapdefs, too. Specifying this in a block independent from the mapdef would maybe be better and more modable. --Mattn 12:53, 5 March 2013 (SAST)
      • We could keep the existing maxaliens parameter in the mapdef as the kind of default, upper-limit for a map. Then have a separate block where we store max aliens for campaign (we wouldn't need it for mp/skirmish) and eventually we could even put terrain/culture/population data there, for instance. --H-hour 14:14, 5 March 2013 (SAST)
  • Imo we can treat the 'maxaliens' parameter as campaign-only. In skirmish (and mp?), the user can always change the number of aliens. But, when selecting the map, we dont know the size of the alien team yet, no? --ShipIt (talk) 09:51, 15 March 2015 (CET)