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Author Topic: Ideas for better aircombat?  (Read 14853 times)

Offline Eddie

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Ideas for better aircombat?
« on: November 02, 2016, 12:02:32 am »
About air combat...
In vanilla Xcom it was "can I catch it?". In TFTD it was "can I catch it?" with the addition of "can I outrange it?" which can be simplified to "do I have sonic oscillators?". So there wasn't really much of a game in aircombat. What was good about it was that you knew what you could do, you didn't sent craft on risky missions.

We all agree that vanilla aircombat is boring. Question is, can we actually do something better? If we make the outcome of aircombat a gamble, is that actually an improvement? Maybe we can start with solving this one question at a time.

First question: What should happen when you encounter an unknown shipping? Unknown meaning you never did aircombat with this shipping. In vanilla it was simple, larger = more dangerous, and you would be cautious to engage something large. In Piratez this does not hold anymore. Small things can be dangerous (fighter), large things can be harmless (freighter). Only way to find out if something is really dangerous is to engage it and see how much it damages you. And then it's more often than not *dodge, dodge, dodge, hit -> dead*

Do we want to improve this situation? If so, I would have an idea. Interception pictures could get a danger rating in skulls on them. This would translate to your pilot counting the guns on that ship. So a cutter would have like one skull in the interception picture, while a battleship would have five skulls. Or something like that. Then, in the description of Piratez craft and craft weapons, there could be an explanation as to what kind of "skull rating" this equipment can take on. So for a battleship you would need a five skull rated gun on a five skull rated ship. You would know what you are supposed to take on and what is too much for you.

Offline ohartenstein23

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2016, 12:46:42 am »
There is the opportunity to make facing an unknown shipping pretty uncommon by researching engineers, who can tell you about pretty much every ship, and Dioxine did a good job of telling you what each shipping is about in its ufopaedia entry, including the damage per minute (DPM).  I like the fact that there is some experimentation too - is it safe to intercept, and what eventually brings it down?  With exception of the heavier military ships, nothing one-shots even the Hunter-Killer, so if you're not jumping in on aggressive, testing the enemy's range and power isn't too hard.

I think the skull rating would discourage this experimentation and risk-taking - oops, too many skulls for me, abort.  What I think would be more useful is having more feedback on how much damage is being done to the target, something like the smoke clouds on UFOs in EU2012 as you damage them, or maybe let damage decrease the geoscape speed of the target.  Unfortunately those would require source code modifications.  Maybe a modification to the text displayed below the interception window could help, in the same vein as the battlescape hit indicator Meridian added; instead of just "hit," it could display "bounced off!" (no damage because armor), "glancing hit!" (damage below a certain threshold, like percent of target's total), and "solid impact!" for a good hit.  Or at a certain percent of total damage to the enemy, a message about them smoking, maybe make it dithered a bit by a random amount so it isn't the exact same percentage every time.

Edit: Modifying the displayed text should be simple enough to code that I can take a look at it and come up with a prototype.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 12:56:02 am by ohartenstein23 »

Offline Eddie

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2016, 12:54:08 am »
While it is true that the Hunter-Killer can survive one shot of most things, your first combat vehicle will be the Aircar. And after that probably a Jetbike. And on both these things you can dodge a lot before beeing hit, leading to *dodge, dodge, dodge, hit -> dead*

But I would like to get Meridians thoughts on this, as he seems to be the most cautious when it comes to air combat. Also he does aircombat without saving. I don't do that, I like experimenting too much.

Offline Dioxine

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2016, 01:00:50 am »
Maybe a modification to the text displayed below the interception window could help, in the same vein as the battlescape hit indicator Meridian added; instead of just "hit," it could display "bounced off!" (no damage because armor), "glancing hit!" (damage below a certain threshold, like percent of target's total), and "solid impact!" for a good hit

The only thing here I really like. +1.

Offline Eddie

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2016, 01:18:48 am »
Btw, do we need to think about a rebalance of existing weapons regarding their damage potential vs armored ships? For example the Gauss does 15 damage, which makes it not very good vs commonly found armor 10 shippings. Same with the lasers. This is a bit counter intuitive, as in ground combat lasers and gauss is what you use as can openers. But then again, these are light weapons on a craft and not heavy weapons.

I'm not saying something needs to be changed (don't know enough about air combat yet), I just want to throw the idea out.

Offline Foxhound634

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2016, 01:43:26 am »
Maybe a modification to the text displayed below the interception window could help, in the same vein as the battlescape hit indicator Meridian added; instead of just "hit," it could display "bounced off!" (no damage because armor), "glancing hit!" (damage below a certain threshold, like percent of target's total), and "solid impact!" for a good hit.

While that would be a nice little touch, i suspect it would be just that: a little touch that wouldn't really change anything, since we can already see how much damage a craft takes from a given hit. So if you keep pounding an armored craft with a weak gun, this is currently communicated by the craft not displaying that much (or any) damage after being hit.

A thing i suggested a while back was to have a more informative intercept screen. Right now, if you click on the 'view enemy craft' button, you only see it's shape which really isn't that helpful, because so many crafts (e.g. in x-piratez) look alike. If you could also see the name of the craft type however, that would be a big help and make you remember the different crafts and their attributes. Even more helpful would be to click the image and be taken to the ufopedia entry of said craft.

With this solution we would also avoid the skull-difficulty-meter, which i suspect Dioxine doesn't like because it removes the 'thinking' part of interception.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 01:47:53 am by Foxhound634 »

Offline ohartenstein23

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2016, 01:53:26 am »
While it is true that the Hunter-Killer can survive one shot of most things, your first combat vehicle will be the Aircar. And after that probably a Jetbike. And on both these things you can dodge a lot before beeing hit, leading to *dodge, dodge, dodge, hit -> dead*

The Aircar and Jetbike are really only for civilian vessels and anything they can out-range with the charger laser.  The dodge on the bike is just to realize, oh, that thing has guns, I should get outta here.

I think the light weapons and lasers being ineffective against shields is intentional - the shield you can manufacture is based off the force fields that mitigate your lasers on the ground, and the heavier weapons like the railgun mention being better against armor in their pedia entries.  Being able to tackle a military ship too early can mean big cash and weapons that make everything else too easy.

While that would be a nice little touch, i suspect it would be just that: a little touch that wouldn't really change anything, since we can already see how much damage a craft takes from a given hit. So if you keep pounding an armored craft with a weak gun, this is currently communicated by the craft not displaying that much (or any) damage after being hit.

There is no damage display for the enemy, so you have no clue how much your guns are doing compared to their armor and total damage capacity.  I don't mean to add this to tell how much damage you're taking, but rather the enemy.

Offline Foxhound634

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2016, 02:14:34 am »
There is no damage display for the enemy, so you have no clue how much your guns are doing compared to their armor and total damage capacity.  I don't mean to add this to tell how much damage you're taking, but rather the enemy.

Oh that's right, brainfart on my part i guess. If a health meter for the enemy isn't possible or isn't wanted, maybe the text that informs you about hits and misses can be color-coded to further draw attention to the outcome?
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 02:24:35 am by Foxhound634 »

Offline BetaSpectre

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2016, 03:00:46 am »
Changing air combat seems like the realm of a game mod. Also seems very complicated too. Xenonaut's air combat wasn't particularly endearing.

Flavor text would make it a bit more exciting. Albiet as is would be fine too. Though I think some end tier ships are too fast sure they're for base defense, but why couldn't your own ships work like base defenses too?

---

Ejection make sense for fighter jets, but honestly it seems rather out of place when you consider the fact that most people would test the waters during these fights before fully committing to an attack, also logically it would need a research option. Then there's the issue of recovering the lost agent in hostile territory. It would make for an interesting mission though.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 04:30:48 am by BetaSpectre »

Offline clownagent

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2016, 10:06:34 am »
I think aircombat would be improved if the modders could define the ufo weopon loadout in more detail like on the player's ships. That means several weapons each with damage, accuracy, range, reload time, ammo limit, travel speed. We could then have UFOs with long range missiles+ short range guns, each with different damage output.
Currently all Ufos can have only one weapon (with damage, range,  accuracy and reload time.)

The ship with higher accelaration value should be able to determine the engagement distance.

Offline ohartenstein23

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2016, 02:01:52 pm »
So for the glancing/solid hit indication, should the HP threshold between damage being glancing vs. good hit be defined as a global parameter, per UFO, or per UFO but defaulting to a global parameter if not defined on the UFO?  If I have time today, I'll be making a prototype to try out, and we can see if Meridian and Dioxine like it.

Offline Dioxine

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2016, 02:11:38 pm »
Thinking about it, something as simple as a possibility to define UFO weapon sound on UFO-per-UFO basis would help enormously (so when you hear WHOOOSH you'll know that your Jetbike is probably not the best craft to engage this target, but if you hear pew-pew, it's fine).

Offline ohartenstein23

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2016, 02:15:59 pm »
Thinking about it, something as simple as a possibility to define UFO weapon sound on UFO-per-UFO basis would help enormously (so when you hear WHOOOSH you'll know that your Jetbike is probably not the best craft to engage this target, but if you hear pew-pew, it's fine).

I like that idea! Maybe draw a beam or something too for the UFO's weapon that can have width/intensity scaling on damage or also defined per ship, for those who have sound muted or turned down.

Offline Dioxine

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2016, 02:34:01 pm »
I like that idea! Maybe draw a beam or something too for the UFO's weapon that can have width/intensity scaling on damage or also defined per ship, for those who have sound muted or turned down.

I'd prefer machine-drawn beam, based on damage - the width and brightness are so simple variables that human input is needless (except for defining the scale).

Offline ohartenstein23

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Re: Ideas for better aircombat?
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2016, 02:44:14 pm »
I'd prefer machine-drawn beam, based on damage - the width and brightness are so simple variables that human input is needless (except for defining the scale).

'Aight, I can add it to the list of interception window tweaks that I'll be trying, starting with the glancing hit indication.  Shouldn't be too difficult...

Edit:  Okay, I'm having trouble with the firing sound thing - I'm trying to copy the same method for loading the firing sounds from RuleCraftWeapon.cpp into RuleUfo.cpp, and it compiles just fine, but then crashes on startup - I think it has something to do with including Mod.h in the includes for RuleUfo.cpp, but I can't figure it out.  Can I get some help on this one?

More Edit:  Including Mod.h isn't the problem, I can add it in just fine without the stuff to load the sounds.  The problem is I get a memory allocation error on startup when the code tries to load in the sounds' integer id with the proper offset for the mod, even though it follows the exact same method as in RuleCraftWeapon.cpp and RuleItem.cpp.

Even More Edit:  What in the what? Apparently it was just the order I was defining things in RuleUfo.h.  Why the crap does that matter?  Anyways, it loads properly and I'm testing it out, but I have no sound on this computer, so I just have to go by what I put in the log whether it's using the modified sounds or not.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 05:38:49 pm by ohartenstein23 »