Reducing time usage in TB mode

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#1 Catwalk



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Posted 25 November 2009 - 11:41 PM

As the topic says, this is yet another brainstorming thread ;) The main argument against TB in the other thread was that it's more time consuming. This is a good argument, since it is. However, I do believe that this downfall can be alleviated through good design and a thorough analysis of the contributing factors. This analysis will be based on the old X-Com games.

1) Planning
a. Planning to take out known threats efficiently
b. Deciding on scouting objectives
c. Planning effective scouting
d. Planning lighting
2) Execution
a. Issuing movement orders
b. Issuing combat orders (including lighting)
c. Issuing equipment orders
3) Outcome
a. Movement
b. Fighting
4) Enemy turn
a. Fighting
b. Detection
c. Movement

Is this an exhaustive and useful breakdown of all the things that take time during combat?
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#2 Jman4117



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Posted 26 November 2009 - 07:49 AM

Make it possible for more than one unit to be in motion at one time, either by grouping or having it so you can quickly select another and move him while the other is still in transit. Would help a lot with moving the guys in the rear.

Having it so selected movements that would take more than one turn to finish can be continued in the next turn without having to select the destination would help.

Making it so that everyone stops moving (but retains their move orders) if an enemy is spotted is a must too.
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#3 Space Voyager

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 09:59 AM

View PostJman4117, on 26th November 2009, 8:49am, said:

Make it possible for more than one unit to be in motion at one time, either by grouping or having it so you can quickly select another and move him while the other is still in transit. Would help a lot with moving the guys in the rear.

Having it so selected movements that would take more than one turn to finish can be continued in the next turn without having to select the destination would help.

Making it so that everyone stops moving (but retains their move orders) if an enemy is spotted is a must too.
That is exactly what UFO:After... games do - except that there are no TU. Having simultaneous moves with TU  depletion (read; true turn based system) is VERY risky. When the enemy unit is spotted all your soldiers can be left without TU. Turn based system relies heavily on one soldier spotting and others being able to react (shoot, throw grens etc).

So don't use it?

Well than we're back to normal X-COM system with all its time consumption.

#4 The Veteran

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 10:39 AM

I think that based on your initial list catwalk we can remove some of the point sentirely. The entire planning section for example bears no relevance (in my opinion) to saving time in a TB game as you would still be taking the same amount of time to plan your moves in a real time game. The only difference is that you can take your time naturally in a TB game but must pause to do so in RT.

What you've highlighted as outcome seems a little vague as well but I can guarantee there would be no advantageous way to speed through a combat resolution without totally losing track of what happened once it's over. Please correct me if I have the wrong end of the stick but if your game speeds up the second combat starts then you won't know who's shot who or who's died or even where the aliens are so compression of this part of the game is potentially impossible.

The enemy turn is debatable as although you would technically see exactly the same amount of enemy movement and firing in TB or RT modes you would have the additional benefit of being able to continue your own movement during this time in a RT game only whereas in a turn-based mode you would be unable to react to this movement. That said I can't think of any way to speed up this part of the game that isn't going to have a negative impact on the players ability to carry out the mission with a tactical approach. It is vital that the player knows all they possibly can about the alien positions and actions in order to better react, and as has already been discussed I'm totally against the idea of a 'flashback' mode to allow players to catch up with information they missed due to skipping through alien moves and such.

The best point raised here is I think in the execution and I must return to the planning stage which I have previously dismissed to comment on Jman's points regardng grouped order assignment and multiple turn move orders as both of these seem to be very good time-savers but their problem as mentioned by SV rest in the execution phase so here goes that section!

Firstly the easy bit, equipment orders can't be made any quicker than they already are in previous games of the same format. Click to pick up click to drop job done. Can't be more simple I don't think! I've already said I think it's a bad idea to speed up combat as it's ultimately what the game is all about so not only are you missing out on the action and potentially important information on your foe you're also basically missing the whole point of the game which is that you should enjoy the combat portions of the game. I don't think the argument here is that the turn-based mode should be quicker regardless, I think it's more that the tedious parts of the battlescape missions should have some form of time compression to speed them along so we get to the fun parts quicker. What with the combat being one of these fun parts there is no point speeding through it!

This said I think the largest area for improvement is route-plotting and execution as has already been mentioned by others. Jmans comments on group move plotting works well but as SV highlighted may not be a good idea for execution as well. Also the possibility to plot moves over several turns is a good idea, so long as it is left to AI to accomplish the set route and not waypoints as was mentioned in another thread! The ability to increase the speed at which the movement actually executes could be a good time-saver, especially if you have a long way to travel or think you're down to the last few aliens and all of this information points me to a very similar system from a completely different game.

Heroes of Might and Magic.
HoMM uses a clearly displayed path to set out your characters movement and also highlights how long it will take to reach your final destination and where you will get at the end of the current turn. You can change the route at any time with just one click and the pathfinding is automatic therefore leaving no requirements for waypoints. The most useful feature from HoMM that may be relevant here though is the ability to skip directly to the end of your move for that turn. Pressing a key allows you to automatically continue along the path you laid out a few turns before so long as there is enough remaining to take the whole movement turn. Pressing the same key again while moving skips straight to the end of that move order so you don't need to watch the hero move if you don' want to. Additionally the move will be halted temporarily if you come to see a hostile unit or other object you weren't aware of before giving you a chance to change tact and engage or simply ride by (though riding by an armed hostile alien in our case isn't a great idea!) I think the system employed here has a lot to be borrowed from for a game such as ours and my only real concern regarding long-term waypoints is the need to click twice in order to move to a desired destination (set and execute) rather than the traditional once to execute. Even on following turns each soldier will require a new execute order but with the path already laid down it does save taking the time to re-evaluate their position and select a desired destination and I don't see a clear way to speed through the move itself without using the method mentioned above.
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#5 StVier



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Posted 27 November 2009 - 05:05 AM

Perhaps we should focus on what is the most time-consuming factor in X-Com.

To me, despite having a 'select next soldier' tab, it's still quite a chore to keep clicking until you get to the soldier you want to give orders to and imagine switching back and forth through the list. Another way I try to select the solider is to scroll the map to click on him/her, not too much a hassle but troublesome nevertheless, especially on big maps and last-alien situations. These days, the problem has been rectified more or less with soldier portrait so it's a one-click selection method with camera-zoom to selected soldier.

Other than this, it's still the search and kill on the last alien which gets to me, especially when you have to individually select every single one of the 10 soldiers to move towards that last corner of the map. Tactical yes, but tedious too.

Just another point to add is on route-plotting and execution. Letting the AI find their own way to an area you designated can go terribly wrong, and almost feels like I'm playing Starcraft where I simply select my Marines and right-click for them to go the top of the cliff so that I can ambush the enemies. However, more often than not, minor glitches like a unit being blocked by another soldier infront of him would for some reason take a detour thru the enemy's rank. Call me a control freak but I would want the soldier to run from cover to cover and not tell them 'that hill is your destination, go', so waypoints should be in but should prompt for new orders in the event of enemy/trap sighting.

#6 DeathOfRats



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Posted 11 January 2010 - 02:17 PM

I'm not sure its a specific part of a turn that takes too much time.
I think its combat situations and 'rules' successful X-Com players use:
      #    Never use up all of your TUs, retaliation shots saved my ass to often
      #    Scout and advance compact and slowly, everything else might end up in 1-low-on-TUs-Soldier spotting (and
            getting spotted by) a target he cant handle alone
      #    The famous "last Alien" hiding somewhere between to barrels or sth.

First 2 points are imho crucial to game atmosphere and shouldnt be tampered with.

Last point: Maybe let smarter Aliens flee the scene when faced by overwhelming forces (last alien against 6 X-Com Agents)
and dumber aliens charge as a last-'Alien'-standing effort (backed up by the PSI, Moral Concept?)

#7 AlanatXcomHQ



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Posted 20 January 2010 - 10:48 PM

Let us also not forget the in-battlescape options in both X-com 1 and 2 also has several "speed settings" ranging from shot speed of x-com troops, shot speedof aliens, movement speed of x-com troops and movement speed of aliens.

In a sense, allowing players to make soldiers zip around the map at lighting pace and make the aliens move in slow motion. As well as slowing the speed in which an alien blast travels so that you had a slight advantage in knowing where it came from and where to direct your firepower to.

Perhaps these kind of options should make a return, allowing players to dictate how fast or slow something moves in the battlescape regardless of TU.

Plus, if we are to implement destructible environments (of any kind) it probably would be cool to have the option of seeing a building or an object explode in fiery goodness in slow motion :D
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