Thinking out loud... What if HWPs were set to require a specific facility -- like aircraft require a hanger -- so each defense facility can store one HWP and none can be stored in general storage? They take up some space so that would free up some general storage, but more importantly it would give each defense facility a specific type of HWP it could store -- plasma tank only in plasma defense, fusion ball tank only in fusion ball defense, laser tank only in laser defense, and have the cannon and rocket tanks both able to be stored in missile defense facilities.
Thanks, Hobbes! I started over after a few months in-game in order to work through a few more personal modifications, and it's now working quite well. I'm in May 1999 with 68 soldiers lost, 16 successful and 5 failed missions, 194 aliens killed and 45 captured, and 26 friendly fire kills (amusingly the most dangerous enemy is "Friendly" due to overuse of explosives, the only early weapon capable of damaging some aliens in my modified game). The research changes are pretty tough so I have four dedicated research bases this time, and have gotten through 16 technologies so far -- including Psi-Labs due to a lucky early Sectoid Leader capture in a January base attack. My changes to alien psionic strength should keep psionic soldiers from being too overpowered, but if it's too easy I can increase alien defenses some more (I want psionic soldiers to have a chance of success with most alien types, but with Ethereals and a few others impossible to panic or mind control and Sectoids extremely difficult except for the highest-skilled psionic soldiers).
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? Making the game harder isn't my primary goal anymore; I've done that with my own changes and love that I have to try my best to succeed, but having expanded challenges to overcome and more things to do would be fun.
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.
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).
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)
NKF, wanted to follow up and say you're absolutely right about the latest nightly -- OpenXcom 1.0 is not worth downloading compared to the update. Two of the mods -- Area 51 and XFiles -- sound like they expand gameplay without removing what made the original fun, but I decided to stick with the original for now (and XFiles in particular is pretty incomplete according to the forum). The Hardmode Expansion mod might be worth playing too.
Actually, instead of OpenXcom, I decided to go with the OpenXcom Expanded + mod, which is based on a fairly recent "nightly" and adds some extra options. Some things I love:
- Tons of options to enable with just a click, including a bunch from XcomUtil and UFO Extender.
- I love the radar detection range lines for bases and ships; such a small change makes a subtle but significant improvement in appearance and gameplay!
- Removal of the 80-item limit, and the unit limits, and having storage/alien containment facilities that actually work correctly...keeping lean is such a habit that bringing extra stuff on missions feels kind of bizarre, like I can actually have a ship loaded with equipment and decide (on mission start) what to use based on the opposition. I haven't had a base/retaliation mission yet but I think the change will be an incredible enhancement there.
- I also like that I can enable Aliens getting wounds, and giving them the ability to pick up weapons, with a single click enabling those. (I read some posts with disagreements on these options but I think they should've been implemented in the original). I've decided the weapon range of 50-150%, instead of 0-200%, is also a nice option.
- Being able to set manufacturing to automatically sell things is another great, subtle feature. I love micromanaging (everyone who loves XCOM pretty much has to love micromanaging) but it's nice to have that option to set-and-forget when I don't need to manufacture specific equipment for using.
- The graphics. The graphic options are actually rendered better than the original, while still being the original graphics. Lots of fun graphic options too (CRT and Curvature were awesome to see -- annoying to actually use, but cool that they're an option). I ended up using the default OpenXcom shader/smoothing effects as they looked best to me, while still capturing the feel of the original.
- Gameplay speed is perfect. I like most everything slower so I can see each thing that happens, like a board game or chess match. The original game had optional adjustments, but some things would go way too fast on modern computers even with the slowest options set.
Some things I miss:
- XComUtil included the ability to randomize UFOs that had crashed or landed. It sometimes worked, and when it did it was pretty cool...but it was also buggy. I'd like to see that again someday.
- XComUtil included the ability to gain research help from captured aliens, but I couldn't find that option or a way to edit it into OpenXcom (other than giving free research for interrogating an alien, which would be too powerful if overused).
- XComUtil included the ability to sort soldiers globally. The sorting capabilities in OpenXcom are a significant improvement over the original (which didn't have it at all) but with XComUtil I could sort all the soldiers at all the bases with one batch file against a saved game. It required exiting the game and running the batch file, but was still fast and easy compared to organizing soldiers at each base separately.
Editing changes was simple once I got the hang of the .rul files. I did all the changes I made through hex editing 10+ years ago, and most changes took minutes instead of hours. Plus I was able to add a few other fun things:
- Added more civilians in Terror missions, and added a few civilians running around in other missions. Boosted civilian running speed to add to the chaos. Also reduced the score value of civilians so my change in frequency doesn't result in too high/low scores for those missions.
- Added more aliens, and more potential variety of aliens on missions.
- Changed alien equipment for more variety, and all alien technologies available from the start (blaster bombs on a day 3 crash site was a fun experience...for me, not my soldiers...).
- Changed how soon new alien races might appear, and increased late-game variation so it's not as likely to be the same alien race over and over.
- Boosted alien stats across the board, and significantly increased psi strength on aliens so they're less likely to be mind controlled or panicked. Also results in higher-strength psi attacks from aliens, making psionics scarier. Also gave all Sectoids some psi skill, so early Sectoid missions are harder.
- Changed weapon stats (alien weapons boosted, earth weapons degraded, some equipment made much heavier) and made armor stronger on aliens and soldiers so getting one-shot-killed while wearing armor is much less likely (but still possible from heavy plasmas and blaster bombs). Also made power armor stronger than flying armor, so both are viable depending on what's desired for a mission.
- Increased initial and monthly funding from countries, because I like having lots of money to play with and making country funding more essential than manufacturing for generating income.This also offsets the difficulty, since losing entire teams and Skyrangers can happen in the first month now (which would be pretty much game-ending without funds to replace them).
- Tripled manufacturing times and increased all research 10x, to slow down the pace of the game (my favorite part of the game is early/mid game, so this extends that fun for me).
- Changed soldier order and facing on all ships. Seems to work just like XcomUtil, but took a couple tries to get right. Only tested on the Skyranger so far but should work on the other ships (even if it requires a few adjustments).
- Recreated my massive statstring logic from XcomUtil, which only took a couple times to get right using OpenXcom semantics. This was the most time-consuming change though because I couldn't just cut and paste (the language and logic is different, but equally powerful). Talking hundreds of lines here.
So far I'm in game date March 14, 1999. I've lost 29 soldiers so far (8 to friendly fire), failed 4 out of 13 missions, killed 70 aliens and captured 13, spent over $200M, and have only completed research on laser weapons and laser pistols (but just hired a bunch of scientists in two dedicated research bases, so should start getting more technologies in a month or two).
And that's another thing I love in OpenXcom -- the statistics and soldier memorial screens, and other little extra-detail screens after missions.
I know OpenXcom isn't the original game, and that the executable code has been entirely replaced in an attempt to mimic the gameplay experience. But the developers, and all the modders, have done a phenomenal job here. I feel like I'm playing the original game, with most XcomUtil features I liked plus my own hacks, and with what seems to be fewer bugs, more stability (absolutely no crashes so far), better UI, and tiny, subtle tweaks to gameplay that make it better without making it different.
I'll have to play a few more game months to see how things go in future missions, but so far, this has become my favorite version of one of my favorite games. And from what I've read on the mods, Area 51 especially, it looks like there's potentially even *better* versions to try out in the future!
Thanks for the tip -- I downloaded 1.0 and the latest nightly to try them both, along with each of the latest mods. Will skip the major conversion mods for now but I'm amazed what they have accomplished.
I thought I'd miss XcomUtil but it seems a lot is replicated. I'm still playing with all the options.
The 2012 game looks good, but the more I read about it, the more I realized I just wanted to play the original. Might be nostalgia, but my gaming time is so limited I'd rather just play what I love.