Playing the bad guys with XcomUtil


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#1 Wisq

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 10:31 PM

So I'm considering playing a reversed X-COM game, where I play the geoscape normally (and play it as hard as I can) but play all battlescape encounters as aliens.

That is, in theory, the first thing I would do on any mission is "SWP" with XcomUtil, then immediately end turn to let the humans play their turn.  (I've confirmed that the AI does indeed actually leave the lander and come looking for me.)  Then I play as normal, but as the aliens.

(Obviously, there need to be some basic ground rules, like "no blaster bombing the lander on the first turn".  That just gets kinda silly.)

I'm wondering about all the loud warnings in the XcomUtil documentation about "SWP" and saving.  In particular:

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You should NEVER continue your game from a saved game on which you have used the SWP flag.  You should ALWAYS save your game twice, using two different saved game numbers, to make a backup copy of your saved game before running XcomUtil with SWP and WRT.  You can then reload the first saved game with the modified files to fight your enhanced battle.  When you are done, you can reload your game from the second saved game.
I'm taking this to mean "once you run SWP, never try to return to the geoscape with that savegame".  Is that the general idea here?  That's fine if I were just exploring the alien side of things, but obviously it creates some problems if I actually want to play a "normal" swapped round.

It seems to me that the best solution would just be to reload a save from before the battle and recreate the results of the battle as best I can.  (I think I already need to do this anyway, at least to start, since I need to run "TEC:ALL" to unlock the aliens' weapons for them to use, and I don't want that carrying over.)

It's the "recreate" part that gets a bit tricky, though.  It's pretty easy to simulate the simple cases, like a total X-COM defeat (just grenade the entire team) or a basic X-COM victory (friendly-fire any soldiers who died, and then run "WIN" to force a victory).  But the former misses any points for killing aliens, while the latter misses any stunned aliens.

I suppose I could also just disarm the aliens with XcomUtil and then run AutoCombat.  At least then there would probably be some stuns.  Bit of a speed vs. fidelity trade-off there.  Or I could just play it manually if it's a critical grab -- navigator, leader, commander.

And of course, terror missions are a bit funky.  I suppose in the case of an X-COM victory, I can always have them sit in the lander with prox grenades laid down, waiting for the correct number of civilians to die, and then do the "we win" victory thing.

Is there an easier way to do this?  Are there any "gotchas" I haven't dealt with here?  Is this even feasible?

#2 NKF

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 05:30 AM

The real problem with ending a mission with a swapped side is what happens to the troops and Skyranger on return to base. There is one fix for this. The game stores a virtual copy of all your soldiers for the battlescape portion and updates their geoscape parallels at the end of mission depending on how it went. What you need to do here is disassociate the soldiers stored in the battlescape with their geoscape counterparts. Or, swaps the geoscape references so that anything earned by the alien side updates the Geoscape soldier files.

XComutil doesn't have any means of doing this as of yet unfortunately. But it's easy enough fix if you would like to manually edit the files or make a tool that disassociates the tactical soldiers from the geoscape soldiers.

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#3 j'ordos

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 11:12 AM

You might be interested in Seb76's Ufoloader 'Alien Pets' hack: http://www.ufopaedia...ser:Seb76#Hacks, though it looks like that way you control both xcom and the aliens?

#4 Wisq

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 01:45 PM

The idea here is that if the soldiers win, they should still get all the experience, etc., that they would normally get.  So ideally they would retain their associations with their geoscape counterparts.

It's essentially a sort of "Jekyll and Hyde" thing where I play the geoscape, sending the soldiers into situations with as much overwhelming superiority as I can, and then see how well I can screw them over as aliens.  It might end up being a bit of a slaughter in the late game, but it also means I can cheerily send aliens to their deaths trying to take out just one more operative.

Would it be enough to save repeatedly (e.g. when I think I'm about to take out the last soldier, or when I'm down to my last alien) and then do a "SWP" at the end to restore human control (and either kill the last alien or have the soldier rush to their death)?  Would the game update correctly then, or does running "SWP" permanently mess up the battlescape/geoscape associations?

#5 NKF

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 05:36 AM

SWP doesn't mess with the Geoscape associations. It just does a straight flip of the owner flag.

Oh, that reminds me - civilians. The SWP flag sets them all to your control when you switch to the aliens. When you switch back, I seem to recall that they're given to the alien side. You'll need to factor this in to your plans as well.

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#6 Wisq

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 07:11 AM

View PostNKF, on 23rd April 2010, 1:36am, said:

SWP doesn't mess with the Geoscape associations. It just does a straight flip of the owner flag.
Great.  I'll give the "SWP + play + SWP + finish" approach some tests and see what happens.

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Oh, that reminds me - civilians. The SWP flag sets them all to your control when you switch to the aliens. When you switch back, I seem to recall that they're given to the alien side. You'll need to factor this in to your plans as well.
Actually, with my version of XcomUtil (the latest beta), it seems to set civilians to X-COM control.  Or at least, after the first SWP (now playing as aliens), they're hostile to me; if I SWP back (now playing as X-COM), they're now controllable.  This also tends to mess up the score a bit, since e.g. start + SWP + SWP + abort = a bunch of "X-COM operatives" (civilians) MIA.  And they probably don't get the bonus for saving civs, either.

The civilians-are-XCOM thing is fine during the battle, though I may have to write something myself to revert civilians back to civilians at the end of the battle.

One problem I'm having:  I put a default game in fast-forward until a terror site popped up, then did some testing there.  I found that even after running "TEC" or "TEC:ALL" on my geoscape save, the battlescape still wouldn't let my aliens use their weapons.  I seem to recall "TEC:ALL" working in the past, and it definitely lets me manufacture anything (and thus should let me use anything), so I'm not sure what's going on here.  Maybe it has something to do with the terror site being created before I ran "TEC:ALL".  I'll have to experiment more with this.

Another problem, and one that might halt this project entirely, is the X-COM AI.  During my terror mission testing, I found that the AI was a bit less capable than I guessed from my original tests.  It does spread the soldiers out a bit from the lander, but not very far, and they seem to almost wander randomly rather than actually move out and hunt at all.

Granted, I'm having the game do something it was never designed to do.  And I suppose this sort of AI makes sense for the aliens, who can do a lot of damage just by wandering aimlessly and shooting anything they come across.  But if it means I can just run to the lander, fire plasma and grenades randomly, and wipe out the entire squad, it's going to be a pretty short game.

Ah well.  I'll do more testing when i get a chance.




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