Author Topic: General XCom balance  (Read 12740 times)

Offline Align

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General XCom balance
« on: May 22, 2013, 11:41:50 pm »
There are some things in vanilla XCom that just seem pointless compared to the alternatives, and I was thinking of just giving the ruleset file a quick edit so I don't feel compelled to immediately switch to Avalanche launchers and forgo Plasma Rifles for Heavy Plasma altogether... But I wanted to see if anyone had any detailed thoughts on this already.

Offline Warboy1982

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2013, 01:15:17 am »
there are lots of angles for attack here, adjusting prices, item stats (most notably: weight, accuracy and damage), enemy and soldier stats, altering the research tree.... there's SO MUCH that goes into balancing a game... but check out the modding section, there's a lot of great ideas there to play with, tweak, and expand on.

Offline Align

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2013, 02:44:53 pm »
Modding seems more like it's used for new features than small tweaks, though I'm definitely keeping an eye on it.
Prices for items would certainly be the easiest change (except for alien weaponry which you usually get for free), but I'm reluctant to go that way, as it still means there's a "best" weapon (in each tier), it just takes you a bit longer to get.

I guess what I'd change is
  • Avalanche missiles are much less accurate than Stingrays; they offer a chance of hitting early UFOs without risking return fire, but it's much more of a gamble
  • Cannons have roughly Stingray range, but deal damage somewhat more slowly on average (much more over time though; guaranteed to bring UFOs down, but you risk sitting through more return fire)
  • Laser cannons have slightly more range than Stingrays, but still risk return fire more than Avalanches
  • Plasma cannons remain awesome
  • Fusion balls are made by far the best - but also the most expensive - weapon, since each shot costs elerium
While the Heavy infantry weapons basically replace the two Cannons, meaning heavy laser gets TU-cheap auto-shots (since it has no explosive ammo, it needs to be able to put out a barrage), and so on.

Offline moriarty

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2013, 06:14:23 pm »
I like your ideas. In xcom games I play, I usually try to find a reason for not immediately switching to the "best" weapons, but I always end up using Laser Rifles on all of my troops (don't need to worry about ammo, superb firing rate, no problem to just disintegrate a whole barn side with a small squad of soldiers if I suspect an alien in there...) and dual plasma beams on all of my craft (I tend to avoid even trying to down Battleships - I just let them land and attack them on the ground).

as for your ideas:

Quote
Avalanche missiles are much less accurate than Stingrays; they offer a chance of hitting early UFOs without risking return fire, but it's much more of a gamble
interesting idea, reducing the hit chance of the avalanches... perhaps increase capacity by one or two missiles then?

Quote
Cannons have roughly Stingray range, but deal damage somewhat more slowly on average (much more over time though; guaranteed to bring UFOs down, but you risk sitting through more return fire)
while I would love to say "yes, please" to that in order to make cannons more useful, having a bullet-based weapon with that kind of range in atmospheric flight conditions is something that just can't be pulled off. neither hitting a target nor inflicting any damage at those distances with a purely ballistic weapon is something that is even remotely explainable.

actually, I would remove the cannon from the modular weapon bays entirely, instead equipping every earth-tech xcom craft with one nose-mounted cannon. yes, the skyranger too. it would be more of a last-resort weapon, enabling a craft to "defend itself" (a.k.a. down a UFO) while risking a lot of return fire.

Quote
Laser cannons have slightly more range than Stingrays, but still risk return fire more than Avalanches
also, they should be the only "normal" weapon to have 100% hit chance. see below.

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Plasma cannons remain awesome
...except that they shouldn't be beam weapons. think about it: all plasma weapons in the battlescape fire globs of plasma. why should the craft weapon fire a beam? plasma is superheated and super-ionized matter, held together by strong magnetic effects. a glob of plasma makes sense. a beam does not. plasma is still more matter than energy and won't travel at the speed of light or anywhere near it. of course, that should include the UFO plasma weapons.

Quote
Fusion balls are made by far the best - but also the most expensive - weapon, since each shot costs elerium
right, they should be the "smart bomb" / "screen cleaner" type of weapon: if you fire it, you know that the enemy will be gone. super-expensive, super-effective.

Quote
While the Heavy infantry weapons basically replace the two Cannons, meaning heavy laser gets TU-cheap auto-shots (since it has no explosive ammo, it needs to be able to put out a barrage), and so on.

I like the concept that XCOM:EU introduces: modifying/upgrading earth-tech weapons with alien technology. I just think that it's not being done thoroughly enough.
I think there should be a whole lot more automatic upgrades, like alien alloy bullets for increased damage, advanced targeting modules, better propellant, precision barrels, anything you can think of... basically, every other alien tech you research should automatically improve one or the other characteristic of the earth-tech weapons, making sure they keep being updated all through the game, keeping up with the all-alien tech you research.

it would be nice if after a while, there would be a renaissance of the good-old rifle, which by the time you start researching the heavy plasma is actually better than, say, the plasma rifle. it should stay a viable option right until cydonia. I'd love to see xcom soldiers with advanced earth tech storming cydonia.

what do you think?

Offline Align

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2013, 06:48:42 pm »
I don't think regular Xcom lends itself well to upgrading existing weapons, so it'd be a bit more work than someone like me could manage alone. More alien alloy items would certainly make sense, though I wonder how much more effective a rifle could get (compared to the jump that is laser weaponry), no matter how sturdy and lightweight the materials are.

On that note, I'd ignore realism for this, as I suspect realism is what got the starting craft arms where they are - bigger, more expensive missiles are better, after all.

Offline Sabin Stargem

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2013, 10:35:11 am »
Concerning the long-term effectiveness of bullets in atmospheric conditions or the battlefield, they should still have some use in my opinion.  Current kinetic weapons like bullets are very slow when compared to lasers, and probably don't compare favorably to plasma.   In order to overcome the hurdle of speed, using magnets to spin and propel the bullets would be required in order to achieve speed equal or greater to that of plasma.

As to why you would want bullets over lasers or plasma, it comes down to that they deal damage in different ways.  Plasma and lasers are a method of delivering a tremendous amount of heat, with plasma being liquid fire that is effectively a 'burst', opposed to the laser which is more about focusing and sustaining the heat.  This lacks the physical "punch" of a kinetic weapon like a bullet, which has mass - you can knock things around, including the delicate insides of whatever is hit, be it UFOs or aliens.   In addition to this, bullets can carry a payload, such as HEAT rounds or electric rubber bullets, which means that you can switch ammunition for the right kind of target.  While it might be possible to change the qualities of laser and plasma weapons (such as shaping the plasma bubbles to penetrate targets), these options are likely to be limited when compared to kinetic weapons.

Here is my (un)scientific analysis of the three weapons:


KINETICS
+Can possess significant weight behind each strike, destroying delicate internals of targets.
+Payload can be modified to suit the situation by switching ammunition.
+Well understood and can be easily mass produced.
+Likely to penetrate forcefields.
=Modest performance underwater.
-Ammunition is likely to be heavier than that of laser and plasma weapons.
-Can run out of ammunition in the field and has to be replenished by external suppliers.
-Slow when compared to plasma and laser weaponry.


LASERS
+Accurate, as lasers travel at the speed of light.  Ideal for sniping.
+Effectively infinite range, provided that there is no obstacles.
+Due to relying on batteries, these may be rechargable in the field via solar energy.  Can switch batteries if energy is required immediately.
+Can use light spectrum that is not visible to humans or aliens, making it ideal for concealed firing.  Infrared technology counters this easily, however.
=Deals relatively light damage.  However, sustained fire is easily accomplished, which adds up quickly.
-No kinetic impact.
-Ineffective when passing through dust, smoke, or water, due to the focused light being scattered, reducing range and power tremendously.


PLASMA
+Deals significant damage with each strike, as it conveys far more heat than a laser would.  Likely to destroy any part of the target that the blast reaches.
+Likely to have a broader range of properties than lasers, allowing for various effects such as EMP or kinetic impacts.  (Though the latter is limited compared to bullets.)
=Slower speed and rate of fire when compared to laser.  Possibly much faster than bullets, due to eschewing heavy materials and magnetically shaped bubbles for improved range.
-Area of effect is probably limited with each strike, requiring careful aim or multiple strikes to cripple or destroy the enemy.
-Short range, due to magnetic "bubble" deteriorating over time.  This is also likely to reduce the power of the strike as the energy in the bubble bleeds away.
-Unlikely to work underwater, and plasma bullets can be disrupted before reaching the target - the magnetized bubble is too delicate to sustain outside pressures, in my opinion.

Offline AndO3131

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2013, 09:15:27 pm »
@Sabin Stargem, these are very interesting thoughts. Folowing them, we could redefine craft weapons, giving players a variety of choices in later game, not just two plasma beams. There could be a place for alloy craft cannon, following this thread or new ammunition for craft cannon.

What do you guys think about gauss/sonic weapons? Some weapons could be usable underwater with decreased range or less damage. How about the oposite?

Offline Align

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2013, 09:44:38 pm »
Underwater? Were you thinking of merging XCOM and TFTD?

Offline Yankes

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2013, 10:16:47 pm »
Is possibility that OpenXcom 1.0 will support both games.

Offline moriarty

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2013, 11:25:17 pm »
...and it's highly probable that once both are supported, there will be a large group of people pushing for a merged game :)

Offline 54x

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2013, 01:45:13 am »
...and it's highly probable that once both are supported, there will be a large group of people pushing for a merged game :)

Right, most likely there'd be some sort of merged ruleset developed after TFTD integration.

Offline Sabin Stargem

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2013, 10:47:41 am »
Here are my thoughts on particle and sonic weapons.   As ever, take a handful of salt.   :P


PARTICLE WEAPONS
The gauss weapons in TFTD are particle weapons, which means that they accelerate particles to extreme speeds and launch them.  Particles don't have much mass but plenty of energy, so they would be a bit better than bullets for raw damage and push, and most likely would have EMP effects if there was anything left of the target.  Probably sucks up tremendous amounts of energy, and is fast enough to approach the speed of light (300,000km/s).   To put it bluntly:  way better than bullets, lasers, or plasma.  However, the power requirements are large enough that I don't expect to see a prototype particle weapon becoming available for at least four decades.   Lasers and plasma weapons are currently being tested, though the latter is extremely impractical because we would need better magnets and power source in order to make it small enough for use by vehicles and people.

As to the effectiveness of particle weapons underwater, I am guessing it wouldn't be good. 



SONIC WEAPONS
Sonic weapons on the other hand...I think their effectiveness is variable, according to what harmonics are used in relation to the target.  A human and a lobsterman are very different, in that the former is quite fleshy while the latter is largely comprised of a plated exterior.  Against humans, you can use a variety of settings to cause different effects - for example, distorting vision by shaking the eyeballs.  However, what works against one material might not be effective against another.  Bone, flesh, blood, metal, all have different properties. As such, in order to be effective against various aliens and their craft, it would be required to collect corpses and material samples in order to create "profiles" of ideal weapon settings for disabling or killing specific targets.

So instead of having a "kill" or "stun" setting, you would probably have to pair up one of these key words with the target that you are dealing with.  For example, "Stun etheral".  As you can probably guess, this makes a sonic weapon difficult to work with, because the operator would have to change settings according to what opponent is in front of them.  However, integrating some form of AI and automated recognition into the weapon would remove this flaw.

One of the useful properties of a sonic weapon is that they may operate as a sonar.  This can be very useful for identifying the location and possibly the species of enemy opposition.  Unfortunately, it is likely that if you can hear the enemy through this method, they are probably hearing you as well.  On land, sonar is likely to be much less effective, though terrestrial mammals like bats have demonstrated that it can be practical.  As before, the settings for a sonic weapon would have to differ depending on what terrain it is being used in - water and air are very different mediums.

Sonic weapons are likely to have issues in the field when it comes to durability, because a big part of their function is effectively to shake.  Ballistic weapons are built to withstand the heat and pressure that occurs when a bullet is fired - but a sonic weapon is likely to consist of delicate electronics, amplifiers, and other things that essentially makes sonic weapons into glass cannons.  A traditional gun can be made out of durable materials like steel, but the inherent need for complex devices to generate and regulate sound is pretty likely to make a sonic weapon difficult to maintain.  In order to resolve this issue, sonic weapons would use an ammunition system - whenever the ammo breaks, it is time to replace the cartridge.   These cartridges would have to be designed with safety in mind, paired with a guaranteed number of uses in order to ensure that soldiers switch the cartridges.   To not do this would increase the odds of a soldier trying to use a cartridge when it is broken, which is bad because it can misfire or simply fail.


+Variable effects, can be used to stun or kill enemies.
+Good range in underwater combat.
+Capable of making a "wide" or "narrow" shot.  The former is ideal against multiple enemies of the same type in front of the user.
+May disorient enemies.
=When fired, the weapon damage is largely effective against the primary target and its species.  Incorrect species only receive nominal damage.
=Can be used to detect and identify objects.  However, enemies will also become aware of the user of this weapon.
-Fragile, the ammo cartridges are likely to break on the field.  Ammo counter is unreliable, and a misfire or dud may result.
-Ineffective against unidentified enemies, as the weapon has to be calibrated for them.  Data collection via corpse autopsy and material samples is required.
-Poor range on land.


As to the most effective weapon in underwater combat, I think that some form of torpedo or blaster bombs would be ideal.  Water is simply a roadblock for most weapons, so the weapons would have to be tailored for that environment.  In addition to this, water can block light with relative ease, making it difficult for humans to see at deeper depths.  Some combination of sonar, infrared, mapping, and beacons would be necessary in order to navigate seabed battlefields.

« Last Edit: May 25, 2013, 10:53:34 am by Sabin Stargem »

Offline Yankes

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2013, 08:01:57 pm »
how about inverting research req of laser weapons?
we will get
H. Laser -> Laser R. -> Laser P.
but Laser P. & R. power will be equal to H. Laser damage (or bit nerfed). This will be a bit more realistic because if its more advanced its usually smaller. 

Offline Align

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2013, 09:35:32 pm »
how about inverting research req of laser weapons?
we will get
H. Laser -> Laser R. -> Laser P.
but Laser P. & R. power will be equal to H. Laser damage (or bit nerfed). This will be a bit more realistic because if its more advanced its usually smaller.
I don't think that's applicable in the situation XCom is in, since miniaturization takes way more time than just scaling down a device and putting it in a pistol instead of a rifle...
And it doesn't really affect balance, since it just causes a delay before you get the weapons you're actually going to use, just like with higher prices.

Offline Align

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Re: General XCom balance
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2013, 11:32:15 pm »
I've been tinkering with a bunch of misc. changes, partially to make the game balanced but also feel more consistent.
Code: [Select]
craftWeapons
Cannon: range 15, so even medium scouts get to trade shots, but highly accurate (hard to dodge bullets) so UFOs are brought down quickly
Stingrays: missiles can find targets beyond the horizon so they get much more range, and are fast, decently accurate, but rather weak
Avalanche: slow enough UFOs get time to dodge, making it not so accurate, but very powerful

Laser Cannon: longer range than any scout UFO, making it the go-to weapon for flawless fights against the most common UFOs
Plasma Cannon: shorter range so you have to go toe-to-toe with supply and terror ships, rather than flawlessly beating them every time. also, ammo costs elerium. Still a great weapon, though...
Fusion Ball: outranges every UFO, but is hideously expensive
UFOs get changed similarly and to fit the new numbers.
Code: [Select]
UFOs
small scout: unchanged at 0 range, 0 power
medium scout: unchanged at 15 range, 20 power
large scout: now at 20 range, 34 power (was 34 range, 20 power)

abductor: 22->30 range, 40->40 power
harvester: 20->34 range, 40->54 power (whole purpose of them is to get important supplies, so should be capable)
supply:36->42 range, 60->80 power (they're vital to a base's functioning, so they'd have serious defenses - this also hinders easy farming. now fits a slow-but-powerful stereotype)
terror: 42->48 range, 120->90 power (it's good that they can defend themselves but they're too close to battleships in sheer power normally, frying interceptors in 2 hits)
battleship: unchanged

Code: [Select]
Research:
Nothing available "for free" at the start of the game, making your scientists as useless as your engineers until you've had your first mission. Feels more consistent - why would 10 dudes be able to come up with something so much better than current earth technology, in less than a month? Although, see laser flavor text below.

Medi-Kits would be purchasable from start, but not manufacture-able.
Motion Scanners... ditto, I guess? Can't think of anything the aliens have that lends itself to the principles it works on.

Need to perform an autopsy and learn about alien biology before you can research Alien Containment (much like in xcom 2012). Stun rod still available from start, as it's just a big cattle prod. Still useful if you're using the weapon-selfdestruct optional feature!

Also, maybe need to perform an autopsy to learn Alien Ergonomics? in order to research/use their weapons

Elerium used to manufacture lasers; Laser Weapons research gets flavor text along these lines:
  "Given the ease with which alien UFOs navigate our atmosphere despite their size, their fuel must be
   extremely efficient. It should be possible to manufacture compact infantry laser weapons using human
   technologies in combination with this fuel - we can begin designing equipment immediately, though
   manufacture will require capture of a UFO with fuel intact."
Laser Cannons would have a ton of shots per cannon, but cannot be recharged, so you have to make a new one once it runs out. Feel free to sell the useless empty one, though... they won't know it's junk until it's too late!
All other laser weapons are treated as effectively limitless ammo, once constructed.

Alien equipment manufacturing would pretty much use only Alien Alloys for anything that isn't ammo, which'd use elerium.
Think that was it but need to log off for today anyway.