A new XCom should be...


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#21 The Veteran

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 08:01 AM

Absolutely, a high accuracy drop off once the selected target is outside the maximum 'range' for the weapon is a very good way to retain some more realism in the game. It also means that our two statistics will work together with the 'range' of the weapon and 'accuracy' of the shooter being highly complimentary of each other. For example a high accuracy soldier with a low range weapon could effectively increase the useful range of said weapon by up to 50% and contrarily a low accuracy soldier with a high range weapon would see the useful range decrease by anything up to 50%. This is yet another reason that training troops would be useful.

Nice Thought Jman, it's certainly worth looking into!
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#22 Catwalk

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 09:40 PM

Great discussions here! I'll jump right into it:

Real-time vs turn-based vs hybrid

I'm old fashioned, and concerned that a real-time or hybrid model would detract from the game. Both because there's a risk of basically having to develop two games in order to accomodate both modes, if that's the plan, as well as taking away from the comfort factor of X-Com. I know there's all kinds of cool stuff you can do with a RT or hybrid model, and I'm not entirely opposed to it, but it takes us a very long step away from X-Com. It's easy to micro manage your units in X-Com, I imagine it'll be quite a bit more difficult with RT. Which could mean that a RT model caters more to players who care less for micro management and won't pause constantly to review all orders for all soldiers. X-Com is simple and convenient for a player who likes to micro manage his units. Lastly, I imagine that coding an AI for a RT model will be vastly more challenging than coding one for a turn based model. I'd love to have a strong AI to play against where I really have to think about how to counter their options. Responding to a few specific comments about the matter:

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when the enemy has shown itself you did not need to shoot each shot individually. Soldiers started shooting by themselves, all of them!
Is this really a good thing? Can I trust the soldiers to shoot in a sensible manner on their own, or will I have to check all instructions? Will I have to review those instructions every few seconds? And will the X-Com charm be intact without launching each shot yourself? One of my big thrills from X-Com, from the start 15 years ago and still today, is watching those shots hit or miss. I can't help but think shots will be less exciting if there's gunfire all over the place.

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I think what with the way this genre of gaming is going nowadays we'd be missing a trick if we don't market it primarily as a real-time game.
Is this philosphy compatible with giving players what they want? ;)

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The most important thing is that the player feels in control but I want to avoid creating a God-game so some added realism for the squad combat section of the game is a must.
Are you sure that this isn't one of the reasons why X-Com was popular? It was very much a God-game. You had full control over the actions of your soldiers. It was comfortable. It lended itself really well to analysis and tactical planning, rather than adrenaline rush and chaos control. RT is chaos, even if you can pause it :) I don't mean to offend you, but I feel that those ideas about squad level control would take this game quite far away from X-Com, possibly losing a lot of value in the process. And I don't buy into the argument about letting the player decide. If you give the player multiple modes to play the game, you need to develop and balance them all. Other aspects of the game have to be tailored to meet the needs of each playing mode. All other things being equal, the resources will be divided. The more modes you need the AI to handle, the weaker your AI will be and the more effort it'll be coding it.

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Ideally, the game should be as realistic as possible
This is where I disagree violently! *flails a hatchet* Gameplay should always come before realism, quote by Sid Meier. I don't agree that only the coding challenge should keep us from pursuing realism, reality doesn't always make for good gameplay. I'd prefer phrasing it as "Realism is often a great inspiration for good gameplay". It gives good pointers for what directions in which to develop the game in order to improve the gameplay. It's not an automatic quality enhancer, and I think much game design falls into that trap. More and more realism (because of the awesome technical capacity available today) without stopping at each turn to ask the question "What does this add to the player's gaming experience?". And yes StVier, I know you were basically saying the opposite thing with that statement :) I took the quote out of context because it fit well with what I wanted to say.

I agree with the arguments about more efficient time usage that have been brought up. I'd like to make a final plea for a turn based model which is rooted in those arguments, namely that it's possible to improve the player's time efficiency vastly within a turn based model. Here are two small suggestions (using X-Com 1/2 as base) for doing so:
1) Allow waypoints. It was argued that with RT you can plot a route for clearing an area and then have your troops execute it speedily. Why not in turn based as well? Let the player plot one or more waypoints to follow and have an execute button. For tedious clearing purposes, you'd be able to set detailed waypoints for several turns, allowing for efficient clearing of the area as you can specify how to do it.
2) Speed up the firing process. When pressing f, switch the cursor to targeting mode and display all relevant information either next to the cursor or below somewhere. Pressing f again will cycle through the firing modes. You will still be able to get an overview of the firing modes by clicking on the weapon.
3) Allow replay of the alien turn. This lets you use the highest speed settings by default and if there's anything important you need to check up on you have the replay.

With THAT said, I love what I'm seeing so far and I agree with many of the other ideas I see posted in this thread. I'm not against progress and going beyond the scope of the original X-Com (in particular on the Geoscape side of things, even the developers admitted that this aspect was lacking), I just have strong feelings about RT vs TB. I'll comment on other stuff soon :)
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#23 Jman4117

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 10:24 PM

My thoughts on battlescape gameplay:
1. If it's going to be RT or have RT elements, it should pause by default on contact with the enemy.
2. If turned based, movement should be able to go for several turns at a clip and you should be able to jump immediately to the next soldier and give him orders while the previous unit is moving. Another old turnbased game I was playing a few days ago did this really well, you'd see the trail that the unit would walk along in green for the current turn and anything else along it would be red until the unit had more energy.
3. The realtime replay seems good, but may have some faults such as giving the player too many hints. The door sounds and camera movements in UFO were something that I thought made things a little too easy to track aliens once you knew the layout of every map element. Maybe someone similar but have the amount of info you get from it based on proximity to one of your units.

For my personal prefs:
I'd like to have something of a hybrid leaning more turnbased. Have each turned set at something like 20 seconds, and run movement concurrently through it for you and the aliens. If a unit isn't doing something for a certain tick, it loses 1/20 of it's time units, so you'd have to use squad tactics moreso that scout sniper tactics. Such a thing made you godlike in the first two xcoms, if your scout could get shot at however since he's at the front with active hostiles that can shoot at him just for being there however..
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#24 The Veteran

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 11:09 PM

Hey Catwalk thanks for your response and an awful lot of feedback, it's exactly what we need to see in community topics like this! And don't worry that you have some agreements, some disagreements and some hatchet flailing moments, it's all good as constructive criticism! So now as the lead I guess it's my turn to comment on your thoughts which will give me great pleasure so here goes and prepare for a lengthy post!


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I'm old fashioned, and concerned that a real-time or hybrid model would detract from the game. Both because there's a risk of basically having to develop two games in order to accomodate both modes, if that's the plan, as well as taking away from the comfort factor of X-Com.

We certainly don't want to detract from the value of the original game and a big part of this project is down to us balancing what was great about the originals and really doesn't need changing and what could be done differently to enhance gameplay. Now while you're right that turn-based is the classic way to play XCom it is not the way the next generation of gamers are used to working so it's important we cater for these younger gamers in order to bring the franchise a whole new player base.

That said your concerns are duly noted and personally I imagine I will myself play the game in a turn-based mode for nostalgia reasons! The biggest difficulty with the option of using both realtime and turn-based modes is as you say the balance and the need to create 2 modes of play. This is not an excuse for lacklustre coding or simple AI however and both realtime and turn-based will both be given our full attention when the time comes to provide the best possible outome in both scenarios.

Something which I think may ease your concerns is a specific settings feature which will be available at all times during the game (save mid-battle) but will be selected at the beginning of a campaign along with difficulty. This will be a mode select where the player will decide if they want to have a 'classic' or 'modern' gameplay experience which will effect several aspects of the game including battlescape control.

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when the enemy has shown itself you did not need to shoot each shot individually. Soldiers started shooting by themselves, all of them!

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Is this really a good thing? Can I trust the soldiers to shoot in a sensible manner on their own, or will I have to check all instructions?

I agree this is not necessarily a good thing and it is not a feature we are currently looking to implement for either turn-based or realtime models. What we are considering introducing is the 'soldier psychology' reaction however which will be very similar to the original 'reaction fire' feature of the original games but with more variables including courage and wrecklessness.

As mentioned earlier in the thread by myself the affect of these statistics will determine a soldiers immediate action on confronting an enemy. Brave and wreckless troopers will stand ground and open fire before contacting their CO for example which in this case is our player while cowarldy soldiers will take cover immediately and then radio in the contact.

This will have the same effect in real-time or turn-based mode but will occur in different ways. In a turn-based game for example a soldier witnessing an alien part-way through carrying out a move order (unless the alien was already known to the player) will immediately carry out their psychological response, be it taking cover or opening fire, and then the player will regain control of the situation. In realtime the same scenario will occur but once the move is created the game will pause to allow new orders.

Of course if every soldier on the battlefield behaved in an odd way then the game could get rather frustrating with every soldier being ultimately disobedient to their written orders. That is why a model trooper will simply stand their ground and immediately call in the threat before reacting. Troopers with psychological traits which cause abnormal behaviour will have the option of training or disciplinary actions after a mission in which they have disobeyed protocol in order to provide the player with a better more professional team in future operations.

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I think what with the way this genre of gaming is going nowadays we'd be missing a trick if we don't market it primarily as a real-time game.

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Is this philosphy compatible with giving players what they want?

As I've already said the game will be released with both modes of gameplay open to the player to allow for both old and new players to get the most from the game. When I say we should market this primarily as a realtime game I am of course referring only to the genre. Primarily the game will be advertised as an XCom title and so the genre will not form part of the decision making process when a hardened XCommer picks up the game. Besides if someone gets so far as to read the games blurb they will instantly realise that a turn-based play mode is available and essentially the fact it is available in both modes will not detract from its value at all but almost certainly expand it's target audience.

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The most important thing is that the player feels in control but I want to avoid creating a God-game so some added realism for the squad combat section of the game is a must.

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Are you sure that this isn't one of the reasons why X-Com was popular? It was very much a God-game. You had full control over the actions of your soldiers. It was comfortable.


I absolutely disagree. A God Game does not feature panicking or berserk soldiers and tends not to include unpredictable or unavoidable situations occurring such as base invasions and randomly spawning spacecraft intent on your demise. We control the troops in any XCom game by acting as a commanding officer and issuing orders hence the need for a player to feel in control but we cannot dictate their morale or change their personal characteristics.

I won't go into more detail on this one right now but there's probably more to be said so please do feel free to quote me again in your next post!

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Ideally, the game should be as realistic as possible

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This is where I disagree violently! *flails a hatchet* Gameplay should always come before realism

Left out the reasons why you feel so violently about this one to make an already large post slightly smaller but they're visible above in your post!

Bear in mind we are discussing a game set 65million years ago on an alien planet which involves anti-gravitational technology and dozens of ficticious lifeforms. When I say it should be as realistic as possible I don't mean we should create a game where the player controls an avatar who spends 90% of his time checking facebook and the other 10% sleeping. I believe it's been taken rather out of context in fact as I think this was in reference to troop psychology which as I've already explained was featured in the original games and is an element which is totally out of our control and therefore must be addressed to create an exciting and interesting battlescape experience.

The idea that the troopers we control are autonomous beings with no thought for their own safety and only enough brains to kneel when under fire if their CO told them to is absurd and this is what I am referring to when I say realism. I'm not imagining that private Jenkins will submit an annual leave pass in the middle of January therefore leaving the mission to UFO-017 3 men short as sergeant OConnor is suffering from shellshock and corporal Higgins is attending a family funeral.

It's all about reaching the right balance of gameplay so don't worry that it'll become a battle simulator and stop being a fun game. Just think of it as the addition of a few new features to make sure you're good enough to beat the alien before we actually give you a chance to try and take out the tachyon beam emitter at Cydonia!

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I agree with the arguments about more efficient time usage that have been brought up. I'd like to make a final plea for a turn based model which is rooted in those arguments

I've covered it at least twice, you will get your turn-based mode. All you are doing with your pleas for it is trying to deprive players who would prefer a realtime setting of an option they would enjoy as well! However I'll address your points below as I appreciate all of your feedback not just the stuff I agree with!

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1) Allow waypoints. It was argued that with RT you can plot a route for clearing an area and then have your troops execute it speedily. Why not in turn based as well?


Waypoints simply will not work in a turn-based environment as there is absolutely no need for them. A good use for waypoints is in a realtime setting where you are advancing a team of a dozen men through winding corridors all at the same time so as to provide effective cover at all times for example...

In turn-based you control one soldier at a time and while you are doing so noone else is moving or shooting or doing anything at all. Essentially you would be adding an extra mouseclick to your move order by having to hit the 'execute' button after setting up the waypoints. And how much fun is it when after setting up seven waypoints you step round the corner and see an enemy automatically cancelling the other waypoints anyway.

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2) Speed up the firing process. When pressing f, switch the cursor to targeting mode and display all relevant information either next to the cursor or below somewhere. Pressing f again will cycle through the firing modes. You will still be able to get an overview of the firing modes by clicking on the weapon.

Sounds like a good idea for both turn based and realtime gameplay in my opinion, especially in a realtime situation when an enemy has already been engaged and you are moving additional soldiers into position to attack it. In this case you would not be faced with an automatic pause or a psychological reaction so a hotkey for functions such as 'take cover', 'kneel' and 'fire' would essentially allow any new soldiers to instantly enter the battle without the tedium of pausing the game.

Another alternative would be to allow the queueing of actions as you mentioned previously (but in realtime only) in order to issue movement, position and engagement orders all at once and have the trooper carry all of these orders out once gameplay continues without need for further micromanagement.

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3) Allow replay of the alien turn. This lets you use the highest speed settings by default and if there's anything important you need to check up on you have the replay.

This is essentially a reload and therefore could never be allowed. If a player is so desperate to finish the game that they can't even be bothered to watch the aliens turn then they shouldn't be playing it in the first place. Additionally they certainly don't deserve a reminder of something they decided it wasn't worth paying attention to in the first place. I play scrabble, cluedo and happy families and in none of them do I repeat my turn to family members who weren't listening the first time round!


Again thanks a lot for your feedback Catwalk I'm off to see your new thread in the Colonisation forums now so probably won't sleep for a few more hours tonight! Please reciprocate on my thoughts as I have yours and feel free to wield your hatchet as oft as you wish! All input is good input after all and thanks for your support. It's very much appreciated.
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#25 Catwalk

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 12:08 AM

View PostThe Veteran, on 23rd November 2009, 12:09am, said:

Hey Catwalk thanks for your response and an awful lot of feedback, it's exactly what we need to see in community topics like this! And don't worry that you have some agreements, some disagreements and some hatchet flailing moments, it's all good as constructive criticism! So now as the lead I guess it's my turn to comment on your thoughts which will give me great pleasure so here goes and prepare for a lengthy post!
Thanks, I love discussing too :) I actually recently quit an online team based game where I used to have a lot of influence on the continued development (rules changed every 3 months when the game was reset and things started anew) because the new owners are fools, so I'm throwing some creative passion into X-Com modding instead ;)

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Now while you're right that turn-based is the classic way to play XCom it is not the way the next generation of gamers are used to working so it's important we cater for these younger gamers in order to bring the franchise a whole new player base.
I guess I misunderstood your goals slightly then. I took this to be a project having old fans as the main audience. Not that there's anything wrong with focusing on a younger audience.

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That said your concerns are duly noted and personally I imagine I will myself play the game in a turn-based mode for nostalgia reasons!
I believe I'd play the turn-based mode for gameplay reasons :)

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The biggest difficulty with the option of using both realtime and turn-based modes is as you say the balance and the need to create 2 modes of play. This is not an excuse for lacklustre coding or simple AI however and both realtime and turn-based will both be given our full attention when the time comes to provide the best possible outome in both scenarios.

Something which I think may ease your concerns is a specific settings feature which will be available at all times during the game (save mid-battle) but will be selected at the beginning of a campaign along with difficulty. This will be a mode select where the player will decide if they want to have a 'classic' or 'modern' gameplay experience which will effect several aspects of the game including battlescape control.
It does and it doesn't ease my concerns. In theory, it's a perfectly fine solution. I don't have any need to ruin anyone else's joy just because I prefer a different style of play, but I still question the notion of being able to fully focus on two distinctly different game modes. I can't imagine that you won't have to make serious compromises along the way in order to achieve this objective. Not only due to a much higher workload, but due to probably having to change both game modes somewhat to account for the other. I think you can do things in a pure TB game that you can't do in a game allowing both, and vice versa. However, that's your headache not mine :) I'll simply focus on criticizing the TB mode then, since I have little interest in the RT mode. As you say, no skin off my back by it being there.

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What we are considering introducing is the 'soldier psychology' reaction however which will be very similar to the original 'reaction fire' feature of the original games but with more variables including courage and wrecklessness.
I can definitely see this working for reaction fire in TB, and I agree that Bravery is one of the funny things you mess around with for a RT game model. I'm still concerned it'd be too much of a headache to play with, but it might appeal more to players who like RT (for sake of ease, I'll use RT to denote anything that isn't strictly classical TB).

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This will have the same effect in real-time or turn-based mode but will occur in different ways. In a turn-based game for example a soldier witnessing an alien part-way through carrying out a move order (unless the alien was already known to the player) will immediately carry out their psychological response be i taking cover or opening fire and then the player will regain control of the situation. In realtime the same scenario will occur but once the move is created the game will pause to allow new orders.
Reaction hiding?! I must say that's interesting, if you can code it properly.

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Troopers with psychological traits which cause abnormal behaviour will have the option of training or disciplinary actions after a mission in which they have disobeyed protocol in order to provide the player with a better more professional team in future operations.
This is starting to smell like feature creep to me :) While the Geoscape model was too simplistic, it was also very comfortable to use. I do like micromanagement on the tactical level, but I'd actually prefer to not have too much of it on the strategic level.

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I absolutely disagree. A God Game does not feature panicking or berserk soldiers and tends not to include unpredictable or unavoidable situations occurring such as base invasions and randomly spawning spacecraft intent on your demise. We control the troops in any XCom game by acting as a commanding officer and issuing orders hence the need for a player to feel in control but we cannot dictate their morale or change their personal characteristics.
Good points, my terminology was probably off. I guess my point was that I like the light aspects of control loss that X-Com featured and would like to see them expanded on slightly. Some of the suggestions above sounded a little too radical for my taste.

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When I say it should be as realistic as possible I don't mean we should create a game where the player controls an avatar who spends 90% of his time checking facebook and the other 10% sleeping. I believe it's been taken rather out of context in fact as I think this was in reference to troop psychology
I already agreed it was taken out of context and the quote was actually from StVier :)

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The idea that the troopers we control are autonomous beings with no thought for their own safety and only enough brains to kneel when under fire if their CO told them to is absurd and this is what I am referring to when I say realism.
I agree with that much. All I objected to was realism used as a plus word in its own right, as I really don't feel it is. It's often a great inspiration for good gameplay. And you have me convinced in this matter, to expand slightly on the control loss aspects from X-Com. The AI for panic and berserk reactions should definitely make more sense. How about letting soldiers panic/berserk partially, using up only some of their TU? It's annoying to lose a whole turn on a soldier. If you get to keep some TU (depending on the severity, losing all TU is still possible) then you still have decisions to make even though a monkey wrench was thrown into your spanner.

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It's all about reaching the right balance of gameplay so don't worry that it'll become a battle simulator and stop being a fun game. Just think of it as the addition of a few new features to make sure you're good enough to beat the alien before we actually give you a chance to try and take out the tachyon beam emitter at Cydonia!
I agree that balance is key, and I'm all about adding new features. The balance in X-Com was notoriously poor as the game could both be broken in several ways and you'd usually end up using the same tactics game after game (such as the scout'n'sniper technique).

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I've covered it at least twice, you will get your turn-based mode. All you are doing with your pleas for it is trying to deprive players who would prefer a realtime setting of an option they would enjoy as well!
Okayokayokay :)

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In turn-based you control one soldier at a time and while you are doing so noone else is moving or shooting or doing anything at all. Essentially you would be adding an extra mouseclick to your move order by having to hit the 'execute' button after setting up the waypoints. And how much fun is it when after setting up seven waypoints you step round the corner and see an enemy automatically cancelling the other waypoints anyway.
You're right about this, I'll drop the suggestion as is. It'd be neat with some kind of AI to have a soldier check an area thoroughly and sensibly, but it might be more effort coding it than it's worth.

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This is essentially a reload and therefore could never be allowed. If a player is so desperate to finish the game that they can't even be bothered to watch the aliens turn then they shouldn't be playing it in the first place. Additionally they certainly don't deserve a reminder of something they decided it wasn't worth paying attention to in the first place. I play scrabble, cluedo and happy families and in none of them do I repeat my turn to family members who weren't listening the first time round!
Have to disagree with you on this one, on grounds of time efficiency and convenience. The big killer in a TB game is the effort required in fighting mission after mission, and I believe this is the main goal you should seek to tackle for combat. I also play a bunch of board games, and I gentlemanly repeat my moves to anyone who needs the information :) I've even notified a player of missing information sometimes.

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All input is good input after all and thanks for your support. It's very much appreciated.
You're most welcome, I shall keep spamming a bit. Alas, I have zero coding skills or I might consider signing up for this. Maybe I'll volunteer for some monkey work if I feel up to it :)
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#26 Jman4117

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 01:17 AM

View PostCatwalk, on 22nd November 2009, 7:08pm, said:

You're most welcome, I shall keep spamming a bit. Alas, I have zero coding skills or I might consider signing up for this. Maybe I'll volunteer for some monkey work if I feel up to it ;)
Don't forget the concepts, 2D/3D art and eventually testing! :)
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#27 Zombie

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 04:08 AM

View PostThe Veteran, on 30th September 2009, 2:41am, said:

There are going to be a lot of more specific questions I want to ask but right now the key is realtime/turnbased/both. What do people want for a new game? For me XCom has always been a turn-based deal and I'd like to play a new game in the same way but its a very old fashioned method by todays standards and I'm thinking we'd be wise to offer a realtime solution too with the choice of how to handle it being down to the player. Really want to know what everyone thinks as it won't be long before we start programming and that's a must know for initial development!
I really love the pure-TB tactical portion of the game that X-COM provides. However, I'm also partial to how Silent Storm, UFO: After... and Jagged Alliance 2 handles combat. In those games you basically start in Real Time until you stumble upon an enemy (or vice versa) in which case the game switches to Turn Based. My only gripe with this system is that the time-counter runs way too fast which means I'm usually only able to move a couple of my men (max) before the baddies spot me which breaks up the formation and leaves some soldiers vulnerable and others unable to engage the enemy due to distance. Would be nice if there would be some way a player could select how fast the game moves in Real Time mode - especially if said player is a slowpoke and likes to plan out a strategy carefully. Or a way to move everyone while preserving the formation would be great too. ;)

Anyhow, my 2 cents. :)

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#28 NKF

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 05:10 AM

Very clear problem in games like JA2 - you barely get a chance to tell your squad to move and suddenly it's combat when an enemy comes into view. However, you weren't technically in combat until the enemy was aware that you were there (pointing their gun at you), so you could move about as necessary, and even break off the turn based mode by backing out of sight.  

There was a game called Freedom Force, a bit of an ultra cheesy comic Superhero type game (go play it!) with a bit of squad based pick your hero team combat gameplay that played out in pausable real-time. One aspect I really liked was the fact you could speed up and slow down the clock as necessary. That way you could play it out in slo-mo when you want to do several things while letting the action play out, or go back up to normal speed when you just want to quickly get from one point to another.

Really, what's is time compression settings in addition to a RT-then-TB-combat system.
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#29 StVier

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 06:28 AM

View PostThe Veteran, on 22nd November 2009, 11:09pm, said:

The idea that the troopers we control are autonomous beings with no thought for their own safety and only enough brains to kneel when under fire if their CO told them to is absurd and this is what I am referring to when I say realism. I'm not imagining that private Jenkins will submit an annual leave pass in the middle of January therefore leaving the mission to UFO-017 3 men short as sergeant OConnor is suffering from shellshock and corporal Higgins is attending a family funeral.

I like this paragraph... would be wicked to include annual leave and family issues, somehow reminds me of the soccer managers game. Anyway, just a brief note about 'reactions', although not neccessary the case but rank should be consideration factor along with recklessness and bravery or other reaction-related stats. I can imagine a freshie requesting orders just about every step of their way but more prone to stupid mistakes should they act on their own, but a sergeant would make a more informed decision if left on their own. Does a soldier hiding behind a barrel come under fire shoot back or find better protection? How differently/similarly would a sergeant and a private react in the situation? It's almost like a RPG saving throw against recklessness/bravery that decides if a soldier tries to be Rambo or the enemy soldiers that jump out of cover to get shot by him.

#30 The Veteran

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 08:30 AM

Wow you guys were busy while I was squeezing in my beauty sleep eh! Seeing as there's so much here I'm afraid I feel obliged to double post. This one will deal with everything but Catwalk's comments and then I'll address them in another post!

Firstly Jman is right we aren't just looking for coders but we need artists urgently too! We're not really looking for designers right now but that's partly due to the fact that you guys are giving us so much good feedback in here we really don't need to fill another space on the team with someone who's job is already being done! So please keep throwing in your 2cents and you're already doing a great deal to help us make the right game for you!

Zombie and NKF make similar points so I'll do both of you guys together! Basically concerning the way real-time works in certain games unless I missed something but unfortunately I've never played Jagged Alliance 2 so I'm having trouble getting my head around the way the "turn-based" portion works. And the reason that's in quotes is because I'm not particularly convinced it is a true depiction of turn-based from what I've heard described so far. It sounds to me more like the sighting of an enemy allows the player to pause and micro-manage but that the enemy side can still disrupt this movement phase by opening fire for example.

So I'll need a bit of an example for this scenario I think as it sounds like these guys have kind of done what Catwalk is worried we may and featured both styles of gameplay in a big messy unpolished ball!

Regarding speed selection in real-time I agree that it's good to be able to speed things along, remember those alien colony missions with the tiny cupboards that lobstermen used to hide in? Speed controls in realtime go without saying for me, if you have a pause button you will also have other buttons to increase speed as well. What I commented on for Cat was the fact that I think a 'flashback' style rewind is basically cheating/reloading and therefore definitely won't feature. Sure if you're playing a game with pople who aren't paying attention then you could ell them what they've missed but why would you if you plan on winning? These aliens have already moved once and they aren't going to do it again if you weren't paying attention!

Lastly to StVier, I agree yu've hit on a good point regarding rank. Of course soldiers who have seen action multiple times will undoubtedly handle a combat situation better than their fresh-faced equivalents, even when possessing the same psychological trait. On my way to this post I saw the UFO2:ET news post which toted 'A strong RPG based system for soldiers' which I can't help but turn my nose up at. My first concern when playing Aftermath was the lack of a troop pool and the necessity to keep my men alive indefinitely. I think XCom titles especially should not face this crisis point in that soldiers who have been on 1000 missions are still just as likely to walk into a trap as a rookie on his first detachment.

However, I also agree that some element of RPG statistic or skill levelling feature is necessary to represent each troopers increasing battle experience and as StVier mentioned rank will also have an affect here. I simply think this should be balanced in such a way that the loss of a good trooper should not spell the end of the world thus causing reloads in order to finish the game with the same team you started out with. Not an easy task but there must be some balance here or the game will lose all credibility as a strategy game and became more of a Dungeon Siege style squad rpg which it is most certainly not!
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#31 The Veteran

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 09:07 AM

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I guess I misunderstood your goals slightly then. I took this to be a project having old fans as the main audience. Not that there's anything wrong with focusing on a younger audience.

You were definitely right first time around mate, we're not targetting a younger audience, we are targetting a wider audience. We're trying to cater initially to the older fans of the original series which is why all your feedback is so useful but we can't succeed on purely the old school XCommers so we're hoping to bring the games some new audience too!

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I can't imagine that you won't have to make serious compromises along the way in order to achieve this objective. Not only due to a much higher workload, but due to probably having to change both game modes somewhat to account for the other.


This is regarding RT and TB playmodes and again I will say there is not to be any detrimental affect from using both! Each mode of play will be treated as a standalone method including identical features implemented in a slightly different way. Think of RealTime as being 5TUs per second for example, turn based we simply decide how long a turn will be (say 20seconds) and then allocate time units accordingly. For example the soldier who is given 5TU per second in realtime will be given 100TU per turn in turn based. It's simple maths and that's all there is to it!

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I can definitely see this working for reaction fire in TB, and I agree that Bravery is one of the funny things you mess around with for a RT game model. I'm still concerned it'd be too much of a headache to play with, but it might appeal more to players who like RT (for sake of ease, I'll use RT to denote anything that isn't strictly classical TB).

Again the difference between turn based and realtime is completely negligible and it will be implemented in an identical way in both modes. Quite how it could affect ease of play I have no idea and I'm not sure how it constitutes a possible headache either so you may need to enlighten me there!

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Reaction hiding?! I must say that's interesting, if you can code it properly.

Talking to the wrong guy! I just tell the devs what to do not how to do it! I imagine 'reaction hiding' as you put it will simply consist of a soldier attempting to lose their LOS with the enemy by placing any suitable object between the two but don't quote me on this!

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This is starting to smell like feature creep to me ;) While the Geoscape model was too simplistic, it was also very comfortable to use. I do like micromanagement on the tactical level, but I'd actually prefer to not have too much of it on the strategic level.

What is a feature creep? If it's the introduction of a new feature then you're absolutely right and I fail to see the problem. Name one sequel that has ever been successfully created without any changes to the feature-set of the original? With the possible exception of TFTD!!! Besides it's not a complicated feature, it's essentially training to make your team better. If you want to let natural selection take care of that for you then you don't need to bother with training one bit.


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I agree with that much. All I objected to was realism used as a plus word in its own right, as I really don't feel it is.


Agreed, we aren't making a simulator, we're making a game. You're totally right that realism is not alwas a good thing and it must be introduced cautiously and sensibly to achieve the right balance.

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I agree that balance is key, and I'm all about adding new features.

I'm not sure I agree that you're all about adding new features but at least we agree balance is important!!!

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Have to disagree with you on this one, on grounds of time efficiency and convenience. The big killer in a TB game is the effort required in fighting mission after mission, and I believe this is the main goal you should seek to tackle for combat. I also play a bunch of board games, and I gentlemanly repeat my moves to anyone who needs the information :) I've even notified a player of missing information sometimes

This is regarding the ability to speed up gameplay, skip enemy turns and replay any missed movement phases. As I covered in the previous post, any game which features a pause option must also have speed controls to accompany it! That said though if the player decides to skip enemy movement or misses important information due to their own impatience they can suffer the consequences. There absolutely will not be any feature to allow the player to review previous turns and that's a final decision!

Sorry to end on a hatchet wielding moment but thanks again for your feedback. I'll try and get to your combat thread shortly!!!
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#32 NKF

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 11:34 AM

Reaction hiding's already been done. Cautious disposition in Apocalypse seems to do  that from time to time. ;) Defensive reactions would be nifty - rolling out of the way of a projectile (potentially launching hapless hero into a pit), or pulling up a defensive shield of some sort - say a pot lid. :) The good old cRPG Dodge% skill.

As for JA2, the combat is similar to the Fallout games. Combat is all turn based, but switches to real time once you are not in combat.

Real-time stays in effect for as long as you don't see an enemy, or if you're not currently under attack. If you're under attack (or the enemies know you are in the area), you have to wait at least one full turn while staying out of view of an enemy to return to real-time mode. If they are not aware of you (they spot you then radio the whole squad to watch for hostiles),. If they are not aware of you, you cut back to real-time the turn after you end a turn with no enemies in view.  Once the map is cleared, you switch back to real-time mode.

Fallout 1/2 had it worse off as some of enemies could amble about about really fast, thus initiating combat when you're not ready. They tend to stand around and even camp a bit in JA2, and can pin you down really well.  

Both games could've benefited from time compression settings for the RT segments.

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#33 Catwalk

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 04:45 PM

View PostThe Veteran, on 23rd November 2009, 10:07am, said:

You were definitely right first time around mate, we're not targetting a younger audience, we are targetting a wider audience. We're trying to cater initially to the older fans of the original series which is why all your feedback is so useful but we can't succeed on purely the old school XCommers so we're hoping to bring the games some new audience too!
Other than muttering some more about RT models sucking, I'll keep quiet about this :)

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This is regarding RT and TB playmodes and again I will say there is not to be any detrimental affect from using both! Each mode of play will be treated as a standalone method including identical features implemented in a slightly different way.
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It's simple maths and that's all there is to it!
I disagree with the notion that identical features will be implemented in a slightly different way. Sorry for being the pessimist, but I think this will be a lot more work than anticipated. One reason I don't agree it's simple math is that the RT model (I assume) does away with having own and enemy turns. And if that's not what you're looking at doing for RT, I see a whole lot of potential from that model going down the drain. I'll crawl back under my rock about this matter now, as it seems you disagree about the potential pitfalls of the dual model setup. As long as that isn't handled lightly, I have no objections.

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Quite how it could affect ease of play I have no idea and I'm not sure how it constitutes a possible headache either so you may need to enlighten me there! [about an advanced reaction system]
I've thought some more about this and posted some ideas about it in the psi/morale thread. I do think it'll be a headache to play with in RT, but I already promised several times I'd abstain from commenting on it, so now I'm going to start keeping that promise ;) I can easily see it working out well in TB.

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Talking to the wrong guy! I just tell the devs what to do not how to do it! I imagine 'reaction hiding' as you put it will simply consist of a soldier attempting to lose their LOS with the enemy by placing any suitable object between the two but don't quote me on this!
This makes sense. I'll post some more about this too in the other thread.

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Troopers with psychological traits which cause abnormal behaviour will have the option of training or disciplinary actions after a mission in which they have disobeyed protocol in order to provide the player with a better more professional team in future operations.
This is starting to smell like feature creep to me :) While the Geoscape model was too simplistic, it was also very comfortable to use. I do like micromanagement on the tactical level, but I'd actually prefer to not have too much of it on the strategic level.
What is a feature creep? If it's the introduction of a new feature then you're absolutely right and I fail to see the problem. Name one sequel that has ever been successfully created without any changes to the feature-set of the original? With the possible exception of TFTD!!! Besides it's not a complicated feature, it's essentially training to make your team better. If you want to let natural selection take care of that for you then you don't need to bother with training one bit.

Wikipedia said:

Feature creep is the proliferation of features in a product such as computer software.[1] Extra features go beyond the basic function of the product and so can result in baroque over-complication, or "featuritis", rather than simple, elegant design.
By feature creep I'm referring to features that are added for the coolness factor without thinking through what effects it'll have on the end goal. And you're right that you can't (or shouldn't) refrain from adding new features simply out of fear of straying too far from the point of origin. While I do like TFTD, I'm as disappointed as everybody else that they didn't throw in just a handful more interesting changes that would significantly improve the game, instead of simply re-skinning it. Feature creep basically means "I think that idea sucks and isn't necessary", but in much politer terms :) As for why I'm not keen on it, it's because it serves to complicate the strategic part of the game. A lot of cool stuff can be added to the strategic part of the game, but there is a critical limit. Add too much stuff (even though individually it's good stuff) and the net result is that it simply becomes too cumbersome. I'm not completely opposed to some kind of training, I already went along with the concept of advanced psycological profiles for soldiers. But it's yet another thing to manage, I'd prefer it to be kept simple and comfortable.

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I'm not sure I agree that you're all about adding new features but at least we agree balance is important!!!
Nah, I really am a radical. You've just seen me from my rare conservative side so far because we've mostly been discussing a measure I disagreed with :) I see plenty potential for expanding on the X-Com concept, I'm not a purist by any means.

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This is regarding the ability to speed up gameplay, skip enemy turns and replay any missed movement phases. As I covered in the previous post, any game which features a pause option must also have speed controls to accompany it! That said though if the player decides to skip enemy movement or misses important information due to their own impatience they can suffer the consequences. There absolutely will not be any feature to allow the player to review previous turns and that's a final decision!
My comment was aimed solely at the TB mode. As for your objection to my idea, what happened to "Why do you want to take an option away from players who'll enjoy it? It won't harm you any" :) Btw this option is available in Laser Squad Nemesis, which is where I got the idea from.

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Sorry to end on a hatchet wielding moment but thanks again for your feedback. I'll try and get to your combat thread shortly!!!
Much appreciated, enjoying these discussions. I really hope this project makes it, it sounds very promising. How do you plan on avoiding a silent death due to RL priorities and waning interest from developers? That's always tough with amateur projects.
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#34 AlanatXcomHQ

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 09:56 PM

View PostCatwalk, on 22nd November 2009, 10:40pm, said:

1) Allow waypoints. It was argued that with RT you can plot a route for clearing an area and then have your troops execute it speedily. Why not in turn based as well? Let the player plot one or more waypoints to follow and have an execute button. For tedious clearing purposes, you'd be able to set detailed waypoints for several turns, allowing for efficient clearing of the area as you can specify how to do it.

I know this must look like I'm drawing things out but I do have to admit, this is an interesting point to consider.

Yes, I agree that it is possible to implement way points in the game, the only thing I should say here to back up that point is "BLASTER BOMBS" from X-com 1.

Now consider for one moment, if you will, the possibility of directing a single soldier's movements on the battlescape in much the same way as you would if you was directing an American Football shaped nuke right into the face of a Sectoid (e.g. the Blaster Bomb) with a TU indicator on each way point as well as the mouse cursor so that players could then judge just how many TU they have to spend for movement before allowing enough TU for any shots to be made, if any.

While this may seem like its making the game easy for players, especially since in X-com 1/2 whenever you moved your soldier, that was it, TU spent and if your guy/girl was in front of an alien your soldier was screwed. Think of this way-point system much like a visual representation of when a chess player picks up a chess piece and moves it around the board to see what his options are.
Plus, with plotting way-points with Blaster Bombs, you always had to option to cancel the movement, if way-points were implemented to soldier movements, its would certainly allow players to visually map out where that one soldier could go before making a final decision.

Now I know this doesn't have to be implemented, but I certainly think its something to consider and possibly lookover as a gameplay mechanic to implement.
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#35 Space Voyager

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 07:32 AM

System that some here describe as "real time first, turn based after contact" (UFO:After...etc.) is definitely neither. It is real time in its essence yet it lets you pause at any moment to give/alter commands. So it is not really real time and it is far from something at first and something else later.

It lets the battle flow without interruptions until something worth mentioning happens, than it pauses the game. IF that is your configuration. UFO:Afterlight (IIRC) has a lot of config options so you can play the game without any pause.

That is however not feasible since your soldiers have no AI whatsoever.

Anyway, this system is one of the best battle systems that I have seen so far. If it had at least some basic options for your soldiers to shoot when a target is in an effective range or something it would be close to perfect.

I prefer it to turn based because things happen simultaneously - it is much more lively and it takes far less time cumulatively.
I prefer it to pure real time because you have several soldiers to think about and it is not possible to be done in real time unless you can go heavy on slow motion...

EDIT; Otherwise I would suggest that the game is done with one system first than implement the other. The game is out faster and you don't need to fine tune two systems at a time.

#36 Catwalk

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:39 AM

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EDIT; Otherwise I would suggest that the game is done with one system first than implement the other. The game is out faster and you don't need to fine tune two systems at a time.
I think it'll be necessary to do both at once. If you do one system without taking into account, you risk making a game that isn't sufficiently compatible with the other game mode. But yeah, as long as you have a full design plan for both it might be possible to fine tune them one at a time. I agree it's a major resource problem that has to be looked at very carefully.
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#37 The Veteran

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 12:01 PM

View PostCatwalk, on 23rd November 2009, 4:45pm, said:

I disagree with the notion that identical features will be implemented in a slightly different way. Sorry for being the pessimist, but I think this will be a lot more work than anticipated. One reason I don't agree it's simple math is that the RT model (I assume) does away with having own and enemy turns. And if that's not what you're looking at doing for RT, I see a whole lot of potential from that model going down the drain. I'll crawl back under my rock about this matter now, as it seems you disagree about the potential pitfalls of the dual model setup. As long as that isn't handled lightly, I have no objections.

Agreed it's not going to be a five minute walk in the park but no corners will be cut so if it takes significantly longer than anticipated we'll just have to roll with it. The fact is though we are going to have both modes to increase the possible fanbase so the only real argument is not whether we implement it but how we do implement it and this is something I can't answer right now because it's the devs job but I can say it will be done to the best of our ability to the highest possible standard.

View PostCatwalk, on 23rd November 2009, 4:45pm, said:

By feature creep I'm referring to features that are added for the coolness factor without thinking through what effects it'll have on the end goal. I'm not completely opposed to some kind of training, I already went along with the concept of advanced psycological profiles for soldiers. But it's yet another thing to manage, I'd prefer it to be kept simple and comfortable.

I can see your concern then but no I wouldn't consider this to be a feature creep at all as it is not an unnecessary or specifically 'cool' feature. The point behind these new traits are simply to add some character depth so the battlescape portion of gameplay can be more realistically related to a real-life combat situation. That does not mean we are attempting to create a combat simulation though as I've said before and the possibility for additional training to deal with troublesome traits such as cowardice will not be pushed on the player as it will be completely up to them whether or not they decide to recitfy these traits or simply let them play out. It is intended to be a noticeable feature in the game of course, or we wouldn't bother introducing it but the part of this feature which would involve the player carrying out additional micro-management is totally avoidable without serious effects on gameplay allowing for the player to decide for themselves whether to address training or not.

View PostCatwalk, on 23rd November 2009, 4:45pm, said:

My comment was aimed solely at the TB mode. As for your objection to my idea, what happened to "Why do you want to take an option away from players who'll enjoy it? It won't harm you any" ;) Btw this option is available in Laser Squad Nemesis, which is where I got the idea from.

I've not seen this as a feature in LSN but it still doesn't change my opinion on the matter. The reason my attitude is not that 'it won't harm any' is that it will harm plenty by allowing a player to play the game in a lazy and inattentive way without watching alien moves and playing every turn on full speed until it automatically pauses. Speed controls are good and will be featured as should be the norm in real-time strategy games but there will be no option to review past occurences other than a list of recent 'auto-pause' actions such as enemy sightings.

View PostCatwalk, on 23rd November 2009, 4:45pm, said:

How do you plan on avoiding a silent death due to RL priorities and waning interest from developers? That's always tough with amateur projects.

The key to answering this question is that for the majority of Colonisation's team members this game is a real life commitment as we are all aspiring developers and designers trying to fill portfolios and make contacts and impacts within the gaming industry which will help smooth the way for us further down the line. While it is most likely there will be no financial gain for the team we will be looking to benefit from the publicity achieved through hopefully releasing the game some day!

View PostAlanatXcomHQ, on 23rd November 2009, 9:56pm, said:

INow consider for one moment, if you will, the possibility of directing a single soldier's movements on the battlescape in much the same way as you would if you was directing an American Football shaped nuke right into the face of a Sectoid (e.g. the Blaster Bomb) with a TU indicator on each way point as well as the mouse cursor so that players could then judge just how many TU they have to spend for movement before allowing enough TU for any shots to be made, if any.

While this may seem like its making the game easy for players, especially since in X-com 1/2 whenever you moved your soldier, that was it, TU spent and if your guy/girl was in front of an alien your soldier was screwed. Think of this way-point system much like a visual representation of when a chess player picks up a chess piece and moves it around the board to see what his options are.
Plus, with plotting way-points with Blaster Bombs, you always had to option to cancel the movement, if way-points were implemented to soldier movements, its would certainly allow players to visually map out where that one soldier could go before making a final decision.

Key points here are that firstly a soldier is not a blaster bomb and the reason they needed waypoints was because they were designed as guided missiles. Our soldiers will feature pathfinding to help them get from A to B and the time units required to reach a highlighted destination will be displayed in the movement cursor when it is moved to a position on the map. If the movement will take more than one turn it will also indicate this as well as the furthest possible location the soldier can reach if you select this second out of range destination.

The reason waypoints were really suitable for a blaster bomb however was that once you clicked execute it would reach its target within seconds! Add to this the fact that it would not reveal the terrain it passed through by revealing the fog of war or allow you to stop and re-route it partway through the turn. These are all things that waypoint movement for troops would have to allow for therefore making it more or less a complete waste of time.

For example, once you set your waypoints and execute the orders the troop will still take the same amount of time to reach it's destination as it would have done with a simple one click instruction therefore making waypoint allocation essentially a complete waste of time in turn-based mode. There is also the possibility that you have spent 5 minutes deciding on a strategic route for your troop to take in order to reach the far side of the map only to come face to face with a hostile unit after moving one step out from behind his cover. Here's another scenario then when you have just wasted a significant amount of time in order to achieve absolutely nothing.

The only way I can imagine waypoints being useful in turnbased is if you were to use the system to co-ordinate your entire squad and then move them all as one action but isn't that basically just playing a real-time game with stationary foes? (I know it's contradictory but I'm trying to make a point!)

View PostCatwalk, on 24th November 2009, 8:39am, said:

I think it'll be necessary to do both at once. If you do one system without taking into account, you risk making a game that isn't sufficiently compatible with the other game mode. But yeah, as long as you have a full design plan for both it might be possible to fine tune them one at a time. I agree it's a major resource problem that has to be looked at very carefully.

I agree with this post, both systems need to work together in one engine or we may, as Catwalk says, spend a long time developing a realtime engine simply to discover we're unable to produce a compatible turn-based system therefore making it impossible to produce the game with both options available to the player.

And failure is not an option :)
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#38 StVier

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 04:37 AM

View PostThe Veteran, on 24th November 2009, 12:01pm, said:

I've not seen this as a feature in LSN but it still doesn't change my opinion on the matter. The reason my attitude is not that 'it won't harm any' is that it will harm plenty by allowing a player to play the game in a lazy and inattentive way without watching alien moves and playing every turn on full speed until it automatically pauses. Speed controls are good and will be featured as should be the norm in real-time strategy games but there will be no option to review past occurences other than a list of recent 'auto-pause' actions such as enemy sightings.

... which works perfectly well in the UFO series, and more or less improved along the series. The game pauses when enemy is sighted, when there's no more ammo, when soldier is down etc... important instances which require the player to make a decision.

The situations in JA2 or Silent Storm is that 'real-time until enemy contact' has it's out of battle functions, though limited, like searching drawers and such for the additional med-kit or toolboxes. It really depends on the size of maps and what there is to do beside shooting at aliens and searching their bodies. Maps in X-Com games aren't that big but it's frustrating enough at times. With modern days capabilities, if developers want, they can very well just have 1 20-storey skyscraper with every floor accessible, but can one imagine going turn-based on this kind of maps? I have more or less been pampered with playing real-time with pause functions but I am still able to keep at it with the original X-com games, but if I were to cross maps between games, I can see that what might work for TB will work with RTwP but not always the case vice versa. X-Com: Apocalypse is still a prime example of an X-Com game attempting to cross the 2 gameplay options but it does have its flaws. I could never get into the Real-time mode back then because things can somehow get furiously fast and screen messy with civilians, agents and aliens running around and hiding and getting shot during a cross-fire, which I never wanted to happen but nevertheless ended before I could react... even at slow speed!

In any case, the point I want to get across is both TB and RTwP has their own merits but to implement TB for nostalgia's sake or to win over the original X-Com fans, it's gonna be potential choke-point in terms of gameplay and really have to be well-thought out and balanced with RT gameplay... I'm merely echoing what other people have said.

#39 Space Voyager

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 06:47 AM

View PostStVier, on 25th November 2009, 5:37am, said:

... which works perfectly well in the UFO series, and more or less improved along the series.

...Maps in X-Com games aren't that big but it's frustrating enough at times. ...
Agree VERY MUCH.

And IMO there is much more harm done by demanding an hour of real time to be spent on a single mission than by a possibility of player being inattentive while nothing of importance happens.

#40 Catwalk

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 09:30 AM

StVier said:

Maps in X-Com games aren't that big but it's frustrating enough at times. With modern days capabilities, if developers want, they can very well just have 1 20-storey skyscraper with every floor accessible, but can one imagine going turn-based on this kind of maps? I have more or less been pampered with playing real-time with pause functions but I am still able to keep at it with the original X-com games, but if I were to cross maps between games, I can see that what might work for TB will work with RTwP but not always the case vice versa.
Map size is indeed a very good example of a compatibility conflict between the game modes. One possible solution is to simply not employ maps which won't function well with TB. Alternatively, have the map size differ depending on game mode or even have separate maps. I think the main pitfall is trying to make the two game modes too similar, as they don't have similar needs. It's pretty much two games in one, and should be treated as such.

I also agree that time usage is the main downfall of TB, even though it's the mode I prefer. I'll try analyzing the contributing factors and see if I can come up with ways to speed up TB gameplay.
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