Zeno, on 11 May 2018 - 02:15 PM, said:
Area 51 looks awesome and I think I'm going to try it on my next play. I read that Hardmode Expansion also includes new enemies and surprises -- in addition to making the game harder -- how does Area 51 compare to Hardmode Expansion for new and interesting content?
Area 51 and Hardmode Expansion both use a lot of aliens, weapons and craft originally designed for other mods, plus some personal additions. Regarding terrains, I was the designer of the majority of the new terrains found in Area 51 (and which ended up being used by several other major mods, such as Hardmode Expansion). And a major difference is that A51 has Council missions, which introduce new mission types, research, enemies, allied soldiers, etc.
Base Defense Facilities are one area I haven't been able to make more fun. I put research requirements in so Laser Defense is required before Plasma, and Plasma before Fusion Ball, to encourage maybe building the earlier defense modules. I also lowered the accuracy of Fusion Ball Defense to make it less reliable, but that just means more facilities are required to raise the chance of success. Even so, base defense -- the act of shooting at an attacking battleship -- is boring. If it's successful, the aliens come again and there's no reward other than a delayed attack. If it's unsuccessful, the aliens come in and it's lots of aliens, planned defenses with chokepoints, and risk of losing the base making it a fairly exciting mission...but the base defense facilities are effectively useless except to delay the inevitable attack. I've built them specifically because I don't think my soldiers would succeed against Chryssalids with their current technology so the delay might prevent an early base loss until I have advanced weapons...but later, I kind of think the defense facilities are a waste of space. I'd get more use out of an extra living quarters and storage facility so I can add more soldiers and HWPs for the inevitable defense required whenever a base is found.
Yeah, Base Defense facilities aren't that useful since only Fusion Ball can reliably shoot down the Battleship, and by the time you get those defenses you might as well let the aliens assault your base for the loot, as long as you designed it properly.
Since you are playing with OpenXCom, the Never Ending Retaliation bug of the original game has been removed (along with all the bugs listed here: https://www.ufopaedi....php/Known_Bugs
), so the aliens won't send endless Battleships until one of them survives the defenses to assault your base.
I read through the OpenXcom forum and didn't see much there for changes. Adding radar capabilities or storage to the defense modules make them more useful, but that starts to take away the advantages of other modules. Playing with the hit chance and defense strength numbers just change the formula for calculating the optimal number of defense facilities, and still doesn't make them more fun (I can make them at or near 100% effective but that removes the fun of base defense, and I can make them less effective but that just makes them less useful to build). I like the idea of having them reduce the number of aliens that come in or automatically shooting at alien UFOs that fly close to the base, but those options discussed on the OpenXcom forums were shot down pretty quickly as impossible to do based on how the executable code was written (and the OpenXcom developers were pretty adamant about not wanting to make those things possible to easily modify).
Warboy and SupSuper (the main OXC developers) prefer to focus on fixing stuff, but they'll from time to time add a new feature - the Council missions and a ton of other features in Area 51 were made possible because Warboy implemented a ton of my requests (but they were always very specific things to expand the existing stuff rather than adding a new functionality like reducing aliens after a successfully base defense shot). But, the good news is that there is something called OpenXCom Extended Plus (OXCE+), which is being developed by Yankes and Meridian precisely to accommodate requests that the OXC developers can't satisfy.
Do you have any suggestions on how I could make base defense facilities a little more interesting, fun, and not useless? Some things I considered:
- add 100% UFO detection in a short range, about the range of an XCOM craft, for Missile Defenses to make one a nice addition to early bases before HyperWave Decoders are available, but that still makes more than one pretty useless and doesn't help more advanced facilities (which are more likely to be built after HyperWave Decoders)
- add some storage space, but I'm torn here -- add too much and they just replace General Stores except that they can be destroyed (making them a bit risky if they are destroyed and cause neighboring facilities to collapse); add too little and they remain inferior to General Stores so wouldn't change how I play
- add a bit of workshop and/or laboratory space, or even living space, but I wouldn't want to make them better than the dedicated facilities so again that wouldn't change how I play -- I'd rather just build the dedicated facilities
- I don't want to make them capable of training psionic soldiers, housing aircraft, incarcerating aliens,or replacing any of the boolean values for advanced base facilities (grav shield, mind shield, hyperwave decoder, access lift)
As you said, changing the numbers or adding additional abilities to the base defense modules won't really increase their attractiveness, because Missiles/Laser are almost useless against Battleships. And clever base design and location essentially makes your bases almost impregnable, at least the major ones, so defenses are useful when you don't want to play again another defense mission. You would need a major change to the mechanics to make defenses more relevant.
However, Meridian has implemented a new feature for OXCE+ for my Terminator: Tech-Comm mod (a new project I started recently since A51 is mostly completed) called Hunter-Killer, where UFOs can detect and attack your craft while escorting other UFOs, and alien bases can launch UFO interceptors if they detect incoming XCom craft.
In Tech-Comm I've also changed the dynamics of base defense:
1) Retaliation missions happen more regularly (Skynet is always looking for you) - for instance, if a Skynet base launches HKs and your craft are able to retreat from the interceptors, the HKs will switch to Retaliation mode and try to detect the base where your craft came from
2) Starting base facilities are ground buildings (later you can expand underground), harder to defend and you get less loot - you have a bigger incentive to prevent the tactical mission from taking place
3) Starting missile defenses can shoot down most of the incoming UFOs (they can come in several sizes)
I'm planning to release a version of Area 51 for OXCE+ to include the UFO Hunter-Killers, so I could throw in a couple of these features, although I wouldn't expect miracles regarding the utility of defenses