Talk:Proposals/Obsolete Proposals/Campaign Staging

From UFO:AI

I felt the discussion was getting a bit long-winded, so I have summarized our conclusions so far and archived much of it. --H-hour 17:35, 17 June 2012 (SAST)

Conclusions

Adopting Alien Weaponry

  • Players are able to research and use alien weaponry too quickly. We need to devise mechanisms to prevent the rapid adoption of alien weaponry.
    • Separate tech trees to somehow make alien weaponry powerful when used by them but require human-tech advances to be as powerful for Phalanx soldiers. Pros: Prevent immediate adoption. Cons: Difficult to find a convincing explanation why alien weaponry is not as powerful when used by humans. ShipIt
    • Make some weapons too heavy for players. Pros: Prevent adoption completely. Cons: We can't yet restrict weaponry to certain types of aliens (Ortnoks, for instance). H-hour
    • Make alien armour strong vs. plasma, so player's adoption of plasma is not as effective until they complete more research. H-hour
      • Don't allow player to develop the plasma ammo for the grenade launcher as early.
      • Research of alien armour opens up plasma assault rifle round to take full advantage of it.
    • Require multiple samples of many weapons before they can be researched. Pros: Easily delays research completion. Cons: Will be confusing for existing players. H-hour

Early Weapon Research

  • The player should be able to completely research and deploy a new weapon after the first seven missions. ShipIt
  • Laser weapons lack a period of usefulness. Plasma weapons can be researched almost immediately, making them obsolete before they are even finished being researched. ShipIt
    • Make laser weapons strong against alien armour (while plasma is weak). Possibly also require alien armour before hand-held laser weapons can be researched. See similar proposal in tech tree image ShipIt posted below. ShipIt

UFO Frequency and Stage Duration

  • Mid- and late-game stages should have a shorter duration, because UFOs will appear more frequently in a given amount of time and will contain many more aliens, which means the player will go to the battlescape more frequently and for longer durations. Three months in the Late Game will probably take five times longer for the player to play than three months in the Early Game.
  • The Beginning stage should have only Scouts. ShipIt

Soldier Availabilty

  • Make more soldiers available at the start of the game and each month. Make the battlescape more difficult so that players are more likely to lose soldiers.

Research Times

Currently, it looks like one scientist produces 0.8 hours of research every hour of game time. In order to make it easier to balance, I am tempted to raise that to 1.0 since many of the research techs completion time will need to be adjusted anyway. It could even be something configurable through the campaign definition in UFO scripts.

Next step: figure out a rough approximation of how many scientists a player will have on a normal campaign at each stage (ie - not the great players or the really bad ones). The following are guesses. ShipIt please make better guesses.

  • Beginning: 10 scientists
  • Early game: 10-30 scientists
  • Mid game: 40-60 scientists
  • Late game: 60 scientists

--H-hour 18:48, 16 June 2012 (SAST)

  • I never had more than 50-60 scientists. Beside that, the numbers above look reasonable. ShipIt 12:51, 22 June 2012 (SAST)
    • IMO, the 70-100 scientists number was low—I'd have pegged it at 80-120, more if the research tree didn't run so dry currently. Jon dArc 16:56, 26 June 2012 (SAST)
  • Wow, scientists are seriously overworked: 0.8 hours of research for every hour of game time means they get less than 5 hours of rest a day (unless you have exhausted all research possibilities), well just saying. --DarkRain 17:06, 22 June 2012 (SAST)
    • It's just an abstract number that interacts with the "time" value of a research entry. The player will never view the numbers working behind the scenes. --H-hour 23:42, 22 June 2012 (SAST)
  • Last I checked the research-running function there was a comment suggesting that it wasn't clear how often it got called in in-game terms—I think the intention was for a scientist to produce 1 research per hour from the beginning (comments in research.ufo claim that research time is given in man-hours). If it really is 0.8 per hour I agree with raising it, but we should double-check that it isn't getting called every 48 minutes or something. Jon dArc 16:56, 26 June 2012 (SAST)
    • It's been checked in the code and mattn made the 0.8 scriptable in campaign.ufo, so we can adjust this to our heart's content now. --H-hour 17:00, 26 June 2012 (SAST)

Aircraft vs UFO balance and everything related

  • All and every craft having the 1100 kph speed is pretty much strange. We should have an unique max and cruising speed for every aircraft/UFO type. Sandro
    • Hmm, I suspect something is wrong in the implementation then. In the scripts, all interceptors and UFOs have different speed values. --H-hour 19:15, 25 June 2012 (SAST)
  • Saracen is supposed to be based on the Mach 3 aircraft, so it should be able to fly this fast. Also, it's 2 weapon slots (compared with 3 of Stiletto) will then make an interesting choice for the player: heavily armed or fast interceptor. Sandro
    • If Google + my calculations are correct, Mach 3 is about 3600 kph. --H-hour 19:15, 25 June 2012 (SAST)
      • At the sea level. Since for lower apmosphere temperature and therefore speed of sound decrease with height (typically), you will get somewhat bigger Mach numbers for stratosphere. Anyway, got to check if it's still an issue or not (sorry for a bit of flooding). Sandro 16:14, 11 September 2012 (SAST)
  • Randomize speeds a bit. There are no two identical aircraft or pilots in the world. I'd say +- 50 kph for human craft and +- 300 kph for UFOs. Sandro
    • This is a proposal for a new coding feature, which is a bit beyond the scope of what we're trying to do on this page. Here we're just trying to identify balance issues and resolve them with the tools we have (for the most part). --H-hour 19:15, 25 June 2012 (SAST)
      • To me, aircraft speed IS a balance issue. Consider the "piloting" skill: if max aircraft speed will depend on it and UFOs will have speed just closely matched by Phanalx aircraft, selecting good pilot will seriously affect probability of interception. IMHO that's a good piece of micromanagement. Sandro 16:14, 11 September 2012 (SAST)
        • I wasn't suggesting it's not a balancing issue. I was just saying that it is a bit beyond the scope of what I think we're trying to accomplish at this moment. I think it should go into a separate proposal. I've been trying to work on the aircraft numbers over the last few months and I'm convinced our air combat system is just not robust enough to accomplish many of the things it appears to want to accomplish (effective armour, armour-piercing rounds, the utility of long- vs. short-range weapons). I'll get into it more once I've got some numbers in place for 2.5, but air combat is not really my priority so I probably won't want to work on the code. Keep in mind, though, that our speed values are not very finely turned at the moment (scripts define speed typically between 7 and 16). So with the current setup it may be difficult to achieve those crucial thresholds where UFO and Phalanx aircraft speed are closely matched, increasing the importance of a pilot. --H-hour 11:08, 12 September 2012 (SAST)
    • This seems like it goes down the rabbit hole of making changes that, even if realistic, no one will ever care about. What would be the philosophical difference between this change and, say, random modifiers to soldier stats to model off days or a solid night's sleep, or individual weapon accuracy modifiers to model subtle variations in maintenance or flaws in components? There's no end. Jon dArc 16:59, 26 June 2012 (SAST)
      • Indeed, there should be a reasonable limit for complexity, since UFO:AI is not a Dwarf Fortress clone. But added complexity of simple rand() call looks rather small for me, and, I repeat, all aircraft having the same speed is ridiculous. Sandro 16:14, 11 September 2012 (SAST)
        • If all aircraft actually have the same speed, that is a missing feature. Each aircraft type is scripted to have different speeds. However, we'll need to check if they actually fly at the same speed, or if the display just shows the same speed for all of them (ie - is it a missing feature of the game mechanic, or a broken UI). --H-hour 11:08, 12 September 2012 (SAST)

Discussion

Plasma Weapons

    • Keep it as it is. Precision of plasma weapons is pretty bad, so at long distance their users will be overpowered by snipers, at mid-distance GL is almost comparable, and in case of CQB firethrower beats them. So why deprive the player from a joy of mastering some alien technology early in the game? Sandro
      • I agree with keeping it as it is, but I think you're selling plasma weapons very short (and flamethrowers long). Even Plasma Pistols are competitive with flamethrowers for damage per TU, and do this with one-handed-fire and more firemode flexibility—not to mention substantially better range, ammo capacity, and reload time. Plasma rifles take a decisive damage-per-TU lead and are a more reliable damage type (everything resistant to plasma is also resistant to fire, but not the other way around). Grenade launchers fill a substantially different role (sacrificing single-target damage for AoE, arc rather than direct-fire, etc.)—certainly they serve as an argument that giving players relatively easy access to plasma weapons isn't unbalancing, but they're not a competitor for the same role. Long range is, of course, right out. Jon dArc 16:35, 26 June 2012 (SAST)

Laser Weapons

  • The lack of period of usefulness has less to do with how quickly plasma weapons show up and more with how weak laser weapons currently are. They compare poorly even against starting human weapons like the pistol or assault rifle, particularly if we restrict the comparison to performance against Bloodspiders and Taman+Ortnok in no or light armor. The fact that plasma weapons simply blow them out of the water and are available shortly after campaign start is just a final nail in the coffin—you need to wait for Shevaar or Medium Alien Armor to show up before laser weapons start outperforming human weapons. Jon dArc 16:46, 26 June 2012 (SAST)
    • I think the decision to move laser weapons farther down the line was precisely to respond to this two-sided problem -- they must fit in between starting weaponry and plasma weaponry, which is available almost immediately. When they are moved farther down the tech tree, they will outclass plasma against armoured aliens (which would include Bloodspider/Hovernet) and have a longer life in the mid-game. --H-hour 16:58, 26 June 2012 (SAST)

General

  • As proposed, the overal time will be 9 - 12 month. This is not enough imo. One reason is, if the aliens start to use a certain tech, e.g. needler, I would like to have them this advantage for some time. In 2.4 I always had the feeling turning their own tech against them is way too easy (because I could do it very fast). ShipIt 07:11, 23 May 2012 (SAST)
    • I agree, but I'm not sure how to do this. Most of the game's weapons research involves finding a weapon, then researching it. So as soon as an alien begins to use a weapon, Phalanx collects it and can research it. Any ideas how we can delay this process? --H-hour 14:07, 23 May 2012 (SAST)
    • My best idea right now is the hard way. Giving the human race an own weapon tech tree. Humans should learn from the aliens. Learn to make their own weapons/armour better, improve them. Maybe humans could go the projectile-based-weapons way, aliens have their beams. Going a way like that could also help to make our tech tree less linear in some way. Maybe : humans get shot by plasma pistol, they do some research and figure out how to use it, but it was not made for humans so its not a great weapon in human hands. On the other hand, once scientists know how plasma works, it gives an idea how to counter it. So they make better armour. Now aliens show up with armour. After research, humans might need to improve their weapons/ammo. ShipIt 20:15, 23 May 2012 (SAST)
    • One possibility that could work in some cases would be to make some of the heavy weapons actually too heavy for humans to carry. We would need to be able to restrict these weapons to ortnoks or other strong alien races, but this should be possible with the planned improvements to equipment selection. That would at least force us to either not have the most powerful versions of some tech (particle cannon) or force Phalanx to devise lighter mechanisms for deploying it (longer research times). --H-hour 10:13, 24 May 2012 (SAST)
    • The obvious solution seems to be to lengthen the chain to usable weaponry—rather than alien weapons being combat-ready in human hands, have them be relatively bad and then stick an additional tech on the end for researching retrofits/reconstructions for the weapons that have actual usable stats. Jon dArc 14:36, 19 June 2012 (SAST)
      • This is basically what we've decided with the Plasma weapons and the Encased Plasma round. By making alien armour excellent against Plasma, we make it good for aliens but not as good for Humans until they develop a later tech. However, I don't want to undermine all of the alien weapons. We could use a good idea for how to accomplish something like this (that doesn't feel forced or cheap to the player) for needlers and particle beam weaponry. --H-hour 20:17, 19 June 2012 (SAST)
      • Difficulty: no way to make weapons worse for humans than for aliens. Solution: aliens already have enhanced Accuracy relative to humans—if aliens can be guaranteed not to use human weapons, we can just give base alien weapons bad spread values and compensate by cranking up accuracy/skill (will need to do the math to see if we have enough wiggle room before hitting skill maximums).
        • I've thought about this and it's not a bad idea. But it would have to be done across the board (used for all/none of the aliens and all/none of the alien weaponry). I'm not sure I want to commit to a solution that isn't very flexible. Still, it's something worth considering. --H-hour 20:17, 19 June 2012 (SAST)
      • Difficulty: market, production, and equipment interfaces are unwieldy—a significant increase in equipment types threatens to make them entirely unusable. A few ideas on how to resolve this, but no idea how feasible any of them are given current implementation. Jon dArc 14:36, 19 June 2012 (SAST)
        • Have you seen the UI2 window? Still being worked out, but should be a little bit easier to use. Also, I don't see a major increase in the equipment types. A few new ammos is probably enough. --H-hour 20:17, 19 June 2012 (SAST)
  • We might want to take into account how many missions the alien will start during a month in each certain stage (rarely, frequent, often).
    • UFO mission spawning increases slowly over the game as shown in the graphs here: Talk:Gameplay_Proposals/Campaign#2012_Adjustment_Considerations. I will try look at current numbers to estimate what alien mission frequency will be like at different stages. --H-hour 14:07, 23 May 2012 (SAST)
    • I have now added average number of UFOs for each stage. This is based on the current implementation and is not meant to be a recommendation. Looking at the numbers, it looks like the average missions over the game would be 159-239. That's a big discrepency, but my guess is that over time the averages would gravitate towards the center, so we can probably say about 200. What do we think about that number? Should we consider reducing it? --H-hour 11:43, 9 June 2012 (SAST)
      • In the later stages of the game, when the player sees more UFOs, they should also be completing research more quickly. Ideally, the player would feel about the same number of missions between important research completion moments. This raises the question of whether the late game should take 5 months. We would need a lot more research content to keep the game from feeling like it is slowing down. --H-hour 11:43, 9 June 2012 (SAST)
      • I also think we should consider reducing the number of UFOs in the Beginning stage. That stage should only go through 3-4 missions max, and then the player should enter a "real" game stage. That way the player has a quiet first month, they can make headway on research, and they get to learn the monthly income/employees system without too much pressure. --H-hour 11:43, 9 June 2012 (SAST)
        • We should also consider another fact beside the number of missions. The amount of time the player has to spent on the battlescape. In later stages, the bigger UFOs will be harder to beat, one mission will take much more time to play than a measly scout. With the same number of missions it will take a lot of hours (in real time) to see the next research completed. So I tend to agree we should try to reduce the total number of battlescape missions for a campaign. ShipIt 13:53, 9 June 2012 (SAST)
  • random thought about alien interests - After their first attacks the hive mind decided humanity can, and therefore should, be 'assimilated'. But the attacks also have shown humans are not brainless and defensless creatures. There was atleast some resistance. So aliens will mainly scout at this stage, in order to find out more about us. During this stage the humans will shoot down several scouts, so at the end the first fighters are sent to (?) guard the scouts and intercept Phalanx aircraft. ShipIt
    • I like the concept. I'm not sure how mission types are decided upon and how to modify this at different times, so it will take some digging to bring it out. --H-hour 17:43, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
  • Proposed Changes
    • The time until the first research is finished and the results (weapons) can be used on the battlefield is too long atm. My goal would be to have the player playing around 7(?) missions with the original equipment until he can start to use the first new one. This means, the player can research and produce the EM-rifle + ammo or a laser weapon + ammo or plasma weapon in this time. ShipIt
      • I agree. The research time on lasers probably needs to be reduced some. --H-hour 17:43, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
      • One problem is : There is no need to research Lasers or EM-Rifle right now. The original equipment works very well and Plasma tech is within reach. My guess is one could play without any (weapon) research until the armoured Ortnoks appear. If this happens even later in game as proposed, the player might entirely skip the laser tech. (Idea: We possibly could avoid a lot of problems by putting the laser tech being superior to the plasma weapons. The player would use the original eqipment until he can research and use plasma weapons. Plasma weapons are bad versus alien armour at which point the player can start to develop and use laser tech to beat alien armour.) ShipIt
        • I think you are right about this. Perhaps I overpowered the assault rifle because I have a special love of human weaponry like assault and sniper rifles. I'm not sure if it would be better to up the damage for laser weapons or reduce the assault rifle damage. Something to keep in mind is that the unarmoured Taman is supposed to be a fairly delicate creature, similar to humans. It will not be clear why assault rifles are so bad against them. Another possibility would be to introduce light alien armour early in Early Game and make it far outclass all of the existing human-tech weapons. This way, the player would start in Beginning with fairly easy kills, then in early game would face a situation where they have to make a jump to better weaponry. --H-hour 17:43, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
          • I do not think the original weapons are overpowered. Todays weaponry is not that bad and should be able to push an unarmoured Alien out of its sandals right away. But the Laser Weapons are now badly sandwiched between the initial equipment and the Plasma Weapons. Thats why I vote to make them appear after the Plasma Weapons.
            Outlined tech tree changes
            ShipIt 20:46, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
            • I would like to keep laser weapons as the first weapon research (that's how it was in X-Com, so maybe I am just being nostalgic). The key is to find a way to delay the introduction of plasma and give it a real advantage over assault rifles. --H-hour 11:19, 16 June 2012 (SAST)
        • I just had an alternative idea for delaying plasma -- and all alien tech weapons. What if we say that we need more than one sample to properly study something. I imagine the first attempts to pry open a plasma ammo container could destroy its interior, for instance. Maybe we could set the threshold of new weaponry up to 10, 15, 20, so that the player must face the weapon several times in combat before he can effectively research it. It would be a conceptual leap for our existing players, so we'd want to find a way to explain it clearly in-game. --H-hour 11:19, 16 June 2012 (SAST)
    • The number of available recruits is too low. The player is forced to retry on losses in early missions simply because he cannot replace the dead soldiers. He is also forced to take injured soldiers to mission for the same reason, which should not be possible at all. I would give at least 15 soldiers to start with. ShipIt
      • Agreed. I want to up the number of soldiers available as well as the number of aliens faced, to make the battlescape a more "painful" experience all around. --H-hour 17:43, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
    • The Scout version of the 'Hovernet' could be used to accompany the Tamans on scout mission. ShipIt
      • Are we still talking about the Beginning stage? If so, I'd like to leave it as just Taman and Bloodspiders, because these are two VERY easy aliens to kill. The Bloodspider is not really much of a threat until the Combat Bloodspider comes along (in my vision for it), because the Combat Bloodspider will have many more TUs (not implemented yet).--H-hour 17:43, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
        • If the Hovernet is more than just a Scout Drone than I agree. ShipIt 20:46, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
    • The aliens using Plasma Grenades does not fit their overal approach at this stage. Maybe we could use an Alien Stun Grenade here and introduce the Plasma Grenade later on? ShipIt
      • I think we could just remove the plasma grenade at this stage. Introducing the alien stun grenade too early will also make it available for research.--H-hour 17:43, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
        • Is the research of the Alien Stun Grenade useful for the player in some way? I could not find anything about this right now. In the 'BIG research tree' it seems to be of no use (in terms of research). My idea was the Stun Grenade could maybe teach the player to be careful without being too dangerous. ShipIt 20:46, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
          • It allows the player to use the alien stun grenade, which is a pretty powerful stun weapon. --H-hour 20:57, 11 June 2012 (SAST)
  • Aliens will not field Plasma Blaster yet (early game) (starts at interest 150). ShipIt 11:17, 9 June 2012 (SAST)
  • I still think we should implement some 'general techs' like the "Plasma Weapons Engineering". Those will be useful in two ways - first we can stretch the timeline in the research tree in a natural way (with the PWE it would be easy to delay/speed up the appearance of Laser Weapons), second we can use them as a prerequiste for other techs later on. The "Phalanx Archives" could be used to give the player something as a first research project until he can recover some alien artefacts and corpses from the battlefield. ShipIt 10:38, 23 June 2012 (SAST)

Other Notes

Alien Interest Thresholds for UFO appearance

The following is a list of mission types with each UFO available (as it is currently coded). Those with a (*) are only available if alien interest has reached a threshold set in the aircraft scripts.

Base Attack	Fighter, *Bomber
Build Base	Scout, Supply
Harvesting	Harvester
Intercept	Fighter, Harvester (25% chance of Harvester)
Recon		Scout, Fighter
Supply		Supply
Terror		Harvester, *Corrupter, *Bomber
XVI		Scout, Fighter, *Corrupter

This raises a couple issues. First, because there are no alien interest thresholds for several mission types, I am not able to implement the campaign staging as proposed here. I am happy to add the code for alien interest thresholds, but there is one problem I don't know how to deal with properly: what to do with a mission for which there should be no valid UFO types in the early game (say, XVI, Terror, Base Attack). I think it would be good to simply ignore the mission altogether. Another option would be to have the game pick the next most desired mission type. But these are things I don't know how to do in the code.

Second, we don't yet have any role for the new Gunboat UFO. I'd guess it would be Intercept but if we want it to appear more in the late-game, it could also be used for Recon.

Third, as I understand the current system, it simply adds all possible UFOs and then chooses one randomly. In the late-game, I would like to be able to specify that more difficult UFOs occur more frequently. Otherwise the player will still be playing too many Scout and Fighter missions late in the game. I don't know the best way to do this, but one possibility would be to make the alieninterest parameter of a UFO have a min and a max value. If it is over the max, that UFO no longer appears. However, it would be better to reduce the rate of some UFOs later in the game rather than removing them entirely. I'm not sure what the best way is to handle this, although we could hard-code the stack like this:

	ufoTypes[num++] = UFO_FIGHTER;
	if (UFO_ShouldAppearOnGeoscape(UFO_CORRUPTER))
		ufoTypes[num++] = UFO_CORRUPTER;
		ufoTypes[num++] = UFO_CORRUPTER;
		ufoTypes[num++] = UFO_CORRUPTER;
		ufoTypes[num++] = UFO_CORRUPTER;

I'm not sure if this is the right way to do it in the code, but I'm thinking this would make the corrupter 4 times more likely than the fighter to be selected once it's alien interest threshold is reached. Ideally, it would be nice to have all of this set through UFO scripts instead of hard-coded, but this might be an easier solution for 2.5. --H-hour 19:28, 24 September 2012 (SAST)

Length of time

Now that I've played through it, I felt that the beginning of the game was too drawn out (Beginning/Early Stage). Six months was just too long and I felt like it stalled a bit waiting for the Corrupter/Supply ship to arrive. I am thinking about cutting the Beginning stage to two weeks, dropping one month from the Early Stage, and cutting out two weeks before Ortnoks appear and two weeks after they appear (in mid-game). This will, of course, require adjustments to research times, etc. And I'm also worried about funding and base construction (it takes time and monthly income to expand bases). Thoughts? --H-hour 01:26, 21 March 2013 (SAST)

  • Do we absolutely need it to go peng-peng-peng? I sometimes felt the game was processing too slow because I had to wait for the next payday before I could build the next base buildings. --ShipIt 12:31, 21 March 2013 (SAST)
    • I think I felt the problem in the beginning of the game because there is less diversity in UFOs, aliens and weapons, so the repetition is more noticeable. Maybe I am being overly sensitive in the mid-stage. --H-hour 16:22, 21 March 2013 (SAST)