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#127636 Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

Posted by Alan on 27 September 2013 - 11:58 PM in Jagged Alliance

Of anyone is interested, Jagged Alliance:Back in action is currently in the Humble weekly sale for ~$6, and will be for the next 5 days or so.

#127049 The evolution of The Bureau

Posted by Alan on 30 August 2013 - 02:29 PM in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

View Postsilencer_pl, on 29 August 2013 - 03:46 PM, said:


But the biggest sin is that the terror and consequence that made me agonize over each and every decision in Enemy Unknown is absent here.
His is lying or playing on easy/normal. The terror is if you issue wrong command your agent might end dead. And trust me soloing Muton is not that easy.

Eh... I dunno, I too think the terror is a bit lacking, even on Commander difficulty. With the Bureau the only real difficulty comes from bullet sponges and to be frank that's a little more boring than terrifying. You just de-buff it, shoot it a bit, then run away while you re-charge/heal. Lather, rinse, repeat. For an XCom game there is a significant lack of 'oh crap' moments.

Now the original UFO: Enemy Unknown (1994 edition), that had some masterfully done terror, and pretty much all of it revolved around the same concept: sudden, foreshadowed, inevitable, visible death. The classic example being the chryssalid; it pops up from out of the fog of war, runs half way across the map and turns half your squad into zombies. What makes it, though, is that you know there are chryssalids about - you've probably heard them during the alien's turn - but you don't know where they are, so you're already on edge. Then *bam* it's there, and you have just enough time to see it, fully understand what's about to happen, and watch as your team *just* fails to kill it before it reaches them.

You just don't get that with the Bureau. Pretty much all the cards are on the table, and if you bite off more than you can chew it's your own fault.

#126988 The evolution of The Bureau

Posted by Alan on 28 August 2013 - 02:49 PM in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Well, I just finished my first play through last night and I'm a bit ambivalent about it. There's some nice ideas in there, but they have managed to spoil most of them through poor implementation. Here's three examples that I think cover most of it:

1. The tactical interface is almost lovely, and joyously your squad mates aren't useless. I like the idea coming up with a battle plan on the fly - you there and shoot that, you there and deploy a mine over there - for the most part it works well, and it is quite enjoyable to sneak a sniper round to flank a bunch of outsiders. Unfortunately they made a school boy error in the implementation of the bit that lets you decide where things should be deployed: your camera clips. That is, when you are deciding where an object that will probably be thrown should go to you have to run it around all of the waist high walls rather than just skimming over them.

2. The cover based aspect works fairly well - you can use cover to your advantage and flank quite well - but the controls for interacting with it are rubbish. Specifically the control for "duck into cover and hide so the evil muton won't kill me" and 'jump over said cover so it can hit me in the face' are the same $~%&£! button. Also, if you do get out flanked while in cover, good luck, as once you have finally managed to coax your character to crouch behind that wall it takes quite a bit of effort to get him to let go of it. You may have guessed that early on in the game these were my two leading causes of death.

3. There's still a flavour of X-com to it in that you get access to new weapons by retrieving them from the field, and letting the research department pick over them for a bit. There is a definite feeling the first time you find an alien weapon of "I'm looking forward to taking this back to base and kitting my guys out with it". While this works for the weaponry (there is a fairly linear progression), it doesn't quite link in with the perks or abilities. In the very first mission, one of your squad mates seems to be able to materialize an automated laser turret... while you are all still plinking away with projectile weaponry.

In summary: It's certainly better than enforcer and it had the potential to have been awesome, but in this game every silver lining has a cloud. I reckon this game could have done with the devs having played a bit more Call of Duty to see how a control scheme should work (duck and jump should be separate buttons damnit!), and another few months to polish out the flaws.

Once I managed to get past the little annoyances and learn to compensate for the controls, I actually found it quite a fun game. There is a certain something to being the one to head shot a sectoid from half way across the map, and there is a reasonable alien invasion/government cover up plot to it. If nothing else I'd say this game has given me a little hope that they could eventually pull off an proper X-com Alliance (an FPS with decent base management).

#124341 Memorial Wall - post your Soldier's Heroic/Silly Deaths

Posted by Alan on 11 May 2013 - 10:40 PM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

Here lies Cpt. Martha 'Saturn' Mueller, veteran of 7 missions with a total of 12 kills to her name. Died from getting her foot stuck in a bench while standing in front of a Sectopod.

*grumble grumble* darned non-moving soldier bug. One of three fatalities in my ironman game too.

#119519 Heavies. Why?

Posted by Alan on 04 November 2012 - 10:58 AM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

View Postricardo440, on 04 November 2012 - 09:46 AM, said:

Once I realised that Blaster Bombs can shoot around corners I was no longer scared of sectopods.
I give my heavies a SCOPE.
Think an etherial or sectopod is round the corner? Send in 2 blaster bombs first!

This is pretty much what I think heavies are for. Sure they can't hit the blind side of a barn (according to the ini files they get the leave accuracy boost per promotion), but when they've leveled up enough for heat ammo and burst fire, then you have a unit which with the right kit has the potential to dismantle any robotic unit in a single turn.

I usually play with 2 support, 2 assault, 1 heavy and 1 sniper, but I've started playing around with my squad selection lately, somewhat prompted by which ones haven't reached colonel yet, and so I've had some rather odd combinations.

I've played a couple of missions with 3 support, 2 snipers and 1 shiv... which kinda works, but I keep getting the feeling that the squad is somehow weaker. The supports make good sniper scouts with their plus three move (I wonder what would happen if I put them in skelleton suits with that's move bonus as well...), and are decent enough front line infantry when they have a good rifle... but they lack stopping power. If I run into a beserker, then I need all three supports to actually have a chance to down it, rather than the usual double-tap from an assault which I would have otherwise used.

#119229 OFFICIAL Bug thread

Posted by Alan on 27 October 2012 - 12:12 PM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

Here's another, rather minor, bug: once you have caught but not researched an outsider Dr what's-her-name will still rant on at you about how you should be hugging them and cuddling them and inviting them round for tea instead of killing them.

Ok, so I exaggerate, but for some reason I find it amusing rather than annoying. I guess they just put the trigger on "has not yet completed research topic X" rather than "Has captured a Y".

#119104 Changing Critical and Aim values in Classic

Posted by Alan on 24 October 2012 - 07:06 PM in Modding


While poking around the game files for my own neferious purposes I have found the part which modifies the alien base stats for the different difficulty modes.

If you still want to nerf just the aim and crit values then take a look at DefaultGameCore.ini:
Starting around line 93 you will find the BalanceMods_... lines. There are a set for each difficultly level, and you should be able to change the modifications to the units here. I would try setting the iCritHit and iAim values to 0.

I haven't tried it yet, but that might do the trick.

Edit: After a couple of quick tries doing some simple stuff (shorter sat build time, etc) I found that just editing the DefaultGameCore.ini won't do it, as the game has them compiled into the exe for some reason.

The good news is that you can grab DarkReaver1980's AntiCheat mod, replace the DefaultGameCore.mod file with a copy of DefaultGameCore.ini, make your changes to that then run his modpatcher and it will then work.

Not quite simples, but almost.

#119050 Strategy guide

Posted by Alan on 23 October 2012 - 12:09 PM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

Has anyone tried using the snipers weapon disabling shot in conjunction with capture attempts? So far I have only used it as an alternative to killing mind controlled troopers, but i reckon this could be a good use for it.

#119004 Strategy guide

Posted by Alan on 22 October 2012 - 01:24 PM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

I'd say research Ammo conservation in the foundary as soon as possible.

That and, despite their seeming inability to hit the blind side of a barn, heavies with the armour piercing promotion and a decent gun and a little luck can one-shot cyberdisks.

Finally, I'd add to the satellite issue: launching as late as possible before the council report, so you can use them to down the panic as necessary.

#118970 Good books you have read or are reading.

Posted by Alan on 21 October 2012 - 07:47 PM in Off Topic

View PostPete, on 10 October 2012 - 07:07 PM, said:

Not read a book in a while, but got Dodger by Terry Pratchett for my birthday, so when I'm not shooting Sectoids I'll be reading that before bed Posted Image

Hah! Same here! Though I haven't got around to reading it yet; I have been distracted reading some of Charles Stross's Laundry series. Think a mix of Jame Bond, geeky computer science and Lovecraftian horror.

#118925 End of Game [EXTREME SPOILERS]

Posted by Alan on 20 October 2012 - 06:22 PM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

Sorbicol, I hadn't really noticed that, probably because when I was playing the PC version of Blood Bowl I was lost in nostalgia for the original table top version. I completely get what you were saying about random distributions though; I work with stats alot and know that you get clusters even in uniform random distributions. After all, the uniformity is talking about the generating distribution, not the arbitrary samples you take from it.

Despite that, I will now be blaming nuffle whenever shit happens while playing x-com... such as the unfortunately close pair of chryssalids which ate half my squad just now in my current ironman game. *grumble grumble* ;)

#118914 End of Game [EXTREME SPOILERS]

Posted by Alan on 20 October 2012 - 09:57 AM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

*sighs* Alright Pete. We're sorry.

I think the problem is that we are connoisseurs in the xkcd sense - we'd have strong and differing opinions about images of some guy eating a sandwich given enough time. While both games are good they are good in different ways, and we get annoyed when people don't see that difference. But yes, agree to disagree.

On a lighter note:

View PostSorbicol, on 20 October 2012 - 09:29 AM, said:

Some of that stems from the Random Number Generator god, which when he has decided he's going to kick you in the nuts, well he really kicks you in the nuts! He has a name in Blood bowl, he's called nuffle. Clearly his domain is spreading :-/
*chuckle* Blood bowl! That takes me back. Hey, Sorbicol, do you reckon the dev's were Games Workshop fans? ;)

#118911 Suggestions

Posted by Alan on 20 October 2012 - 09:32 AM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

Hrm.. my suggestions?

Improve the cutscene handling: I should be able to pause or skip any movie, and preferably be able to go back and watch them again later. Sometimes real life prevents you from giving the game you undivided attention, y'know?

Improve the soldier equipment handling: Now it seems the hunt for the last alien has been replaced with the hunt for the last medikit.
The way I see it is that no-one will build more kit than the 6 they need for their active team, so equipment is a shared resource.
If you return the kit to the stores when unassigning a soldier then you have to re-kit any time you chance soldiers, kinda old school UFO style. I would fix this by having equipment being returned to the pool, but having the soldier remember the assignments, so when reactivated it would grab the same gear, and highlight missing bits in red so you can do the juggling.
Oh, and also allow shifting through our active squad in the equip screen, just like when in the barracks, rather than having to back out and click edit unit again.

On Overwatch: I kinda like this being manual. There have been occasions (albeit rare) where I have chosen instead to hunker down most of my team to prevent them from killing the - by now - fragile alien that I am setting up to capture.

On paint schemes: Yeah, I started colouring my troops too: white for support (mostly medics), green for snipers, red for assault, and yellow for heavy (mostly for their inability to hit the blind side of a barn).

#118895 End of Game [EXTREME SPOILERS]

Posted by Alan on 20 October 2012 - 12:56 AM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

View Postsilencer_pl, on 19 October 2012 - 11:10 PM, said:


You had to determine your objectives
- kill everything - right same as here.
*laughs* I applaud your precision quote snipping skills; you manage to cut off the exact parts which refute the comments you then go on to make.

To explain the point regarding objectives - a pair of examples:
In Ufo: Enemy Unknown
My team lands on a basic mission, and so has the objective: kill all aliens.
To the north of my sky ranger in a building. There are also buildings to the west and north west. (huh, this is a small map, only four tiles?)
These are likely locations for aliens, so to make sure I have killed them all I must check each building, so...
Objective 1: sweep and clear the building to the north
Objective 2: sweep and clear the building to the west
Objective 3: sweep and clear the building to the north west.
So now I assign one squad to each, or possibly a squad each to the first two, then have them meet up for the third. Heck, I could come up with all sorts of strategies.
Having figured this out, I now focus on the tactics of how to breach each building without getting my squads killed.

In Xcom: Enemy Unknown
My team lands on a basic mission, and so has the objective: kill all aliens.
To the north of my sky ranger in a building. There is also another building to the north of that. (We like our maps linear these days, doncher know?)
Huh, well, theres only one way to go, so: I now focus on the tactics of how to breach the building infront of me without getting my only squad killed.

View Postsilencer_pl, on 19 October 2012 - 11:10 PM, said:


on a map approximately four times the size
Not realy - maps in EU were small too - maybe except the base. But here also base and battleship are big maps.
The maps in U:EU were approximately 4 tiles by 4 tiles, for a total of 16 tiles. Each tile contained a feature of some sort - the sky ranger, forest, a hill, a field, buildings, a ufo. X:EU, working by the definition of one major feature per tile, works out as about 2-4 tiles per mission. It takes roughly the same number of turns to run across a tile too.

View Postsilencer_pl, on 19 October 2012 - 11:10 PM, said:


and also manage each individual soldier for best effect
You do that here too. You have to position that sniper with squad sight in right spot, you need to move that assault in best way to use that Run & Gun efficiently. Use heavy the right way - blow up some covers - lay surpresion fire. Those supports are also needed to be put on the right spot.
Here we are talking about two subtly different things. To elucidate: In X:EU you decide to place the sniper there, in U:EU you decide to place the sniper there, and then figure out how to get him there count the TUs of the route to see if it is possible, etc. Basicly, all the faf. For further examples, try running about in Quake (or other fps), and then try running in QWOP [].

I actually quite like that they made this easier in the new one - when I want maths & logic puzzles I can do some sudoku or find happy numbers - I just don't like that I can't have all my men shoot then fire when it suits me. (And other such irks).

Anyway, that is a matter of mechanics (I.e: Strategy is implemented by using tactics which are performed by doing some mechanics), which is besides the point - The point being that X:EU has less strategy than U:EU.

View Postsilencer_pl, on 19 October 2012 - 11:10 PM, said:


manually count TUs to see precicely how far it could move
- To dash or not to dash - that is the question.
See above: there is no argument that X:EU has simplified the mechanics.

View Postsilencer_pl, on 19 October 2012 - 11:10 PM, said:


that is involved in making them all mesh and support each other.
- here you do that too you know ?
(Emphesis added for reference)
Considering that the them refers to multiple squads of 4-6 soldiers each, no you don't do that in X:EU, especially considering you have only 4-6 soldiers total.

View Postsilencer_pl, on 19 October 2012 - 11:10 PM, said:


blaster launchers
- the most broken weapon in the game - alongside stupid PSI mechanic.
Yep, no argument there. Blaster launchers are the ultimate representation of "shit happens, there's nothing you can do about it". Which makes for a certain amount of schadenfreudistic glee when it's your turn to use them. Posted Image

View Postsilencer_pl, on 19 October 2012 - 11:10 PM, said:

But the importance on the base management here has risen 3 times more than in original.
I don't see it, could you expand on your thoughts here?

View Postsilencer_pl, on 19 October 2012 - 11:10 PM, said:


requirements which artificially hold you back
  - Let's see - to get that Aqua plastics - you had to have A) Aqua Plastics, B) disected that Deep one.... nothings hold you back ? Or maybe to get that Avenger you had to get through Firestorm, Lightning - again nothing holding you back ?
*blinks* Yeah, sure TFTD was broken, and we have things to fix that, but you're complaining about there being a research tree in U:EU?
My point, which you seem to have misunderstood, was that in UFO:EU if I could somehow source the money - perhaps by selling of the hundreds of heavy plasma rifles that seemed to always accumulate - I could build as many labs and hire as many scientists as I wished, regardless of what stage of game I was at, and by doing so have a seriously fast research department. In the new game I am much more limited in the extent to which I can choose to prioritise research as I largely have to rely on the few I get given each month, or wait for the random number generator to come up with a mission with scientists as a reward.

Anyway, to restate my point lest I get off track: X-com EU has less strategic elements than UFO: EU, and I haven't seen anything sufficient to refute this.

Also: Having completed the new game I found the ending to be kinda disappointing. Why wasn't my skyranger shot out of the air? Did the aliens want it there? If so, why try to kill my squad? It doesn't make sense!

It kinda strikes me as a case of the story and internal consistency being sacrificed on the alter of financial expedience. I mean damnit man, any x-com fan knows it's Cydonia or Bust!

#118888 End of Game [EXTREME SPOILERS]

Posted by Alan on 19 October 2012 - 08:33 PM in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

View PostThe Veteran, on 19 October 2012 - 09:46 AM, said:

You're so worng I can't even bring myself to debate it anymore. Let someone else come and have a go... Posted Image

*Tags in.*

So, new x-com game. I was looking forward to this. I pre-ordered it, ran through a game of UFO:EU and part way through a game of XCOM:TFTD before it was released, so I have both games quite fresh in my mind.

The difference between them, I think, can be described thusly:
In the new game, you are a non-com, a sargeant; your concerns are squad tactics. Your area of operation is small and you have your objective right infront of you; you just have to worry about putting your men in good cover and flanking your opponents.

In the old game, you were a non-com too... but you were also an officer and a soldier. You had to determine your objectives (squad one sweep that building, squad two cover the outside, squad three hunt down that last bl**dy sectoid) on a map approximately four times the size, and also manage each individual soldier for best effect (manually count TUs to see precicely how far it could move, make sure that there was enough ammo, trade off between accuracy and having a stun rod ready).

I'm used to tackling a tactical mission with three squads of four soldiers each, and a couple of floating death machines playing scout. I'm used to running three or four tactical exercises - each the size of one of the new missions - at once, and having the added layer of strategy that is involved in making them all mesh and support each other. That and having a couple of guys with blaster launchers in the back of the skyranger standing on a pile of ammo providing long range fire support.

It's kinda the same with the geoscape too. In the new game you have to worry about one base and your research/engineering speed are largely dictated too you; sure you can build more laboratories, but they're expensive and there are requirements which artificially hold you back. In the old one I can go for the "we have the technology" strategy and have entire bases devoted to research or manufacture should I so choose, and the really fun bit is that when I have these huge numbers of engineers it actually gets things made quicker rather than cheaper! (I don't get the more engineers making it cheaper thing in the new game).

I guess what I am trying to say is that the new game doesn't let you dream up your own strategies from the myriad of posibilities; it presents an artificial hard choice between two or three routes to you, and what is more gauling is that if you were allowed to perform your own proper forward planning you would have sidestepped the problem entirely. That sort of thing grates on me about as much as a plot which requires characters to hold an idiot ball (google 'tvtropes idiot ball' if curious, I won't provide a link and doom you to a wiki-walk).

Having grumbled about all of that, I did enjoy playing through the new game; there are some rough edges smoothed off and some nice new shinies. I just find that the edges are smoothed off a little too much, discarding some of the interesting bits, and the shinies seem to have been focused on at the expense of some UI elements.

So, yeah, I like the new game, I just love the original more.

Oh, and: Hi everyone, it's been a while.