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Topics - justaround

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Suggestions / A few issues
« on: April 30, 2021, 12:38:28 pm »
A few issues noticed when playing X-Com Files mod but was told are vanilla OpenXCom things. Since I was suggested to report it here, here I am:

- Sometimes when I try to throw a grenade or shoot something in particular location, I get information that the location is inaccessible. Very commonly happening with throwing grenades through windows. However, if one keeps clicking, sometimes the game actually will still allow to throw that grenade/shoot and then there's even some chance it will actually get where one hopes it would. Enemies can still shoot and hit troopers at angles player is unable to return fire from despite neither the enemy nor the trooper moving at all.

- An alien ran out of ammo and then its AI just went crazy - it ran to my vehicle, to the pile of items in it and kept going back and forth, as if it was trying to equip human weapons there, be denied, go away and then try again.

- A typo in Alien Reproduction entry: "short space of time". I assume it was meant to be "span of time".

The X-Com Files / 1.8 Feedback
« on: April 02, 2021, 12:47:02 am »
I am still not really active anymore due to many things happening nowadays and simply not having enough time between regular life and other interests but I've found some time to play the new version, compare it to experience from a couple of versions ago and offer general feedback. It's not really just neither only suggestion/wishlist nor a bug report thing, but a collection of thoughts, issues and hopes with/for various aspects of the game gathered over dozen or more hours of gameplay. If it doesn't deserve its own thread, my apologies.


Strange creatures mission division
I still miss how "strange creatures" missions have the generic debriefing description rarely hinting at what one would be fighting. Dividing them into several missions named the same, but with various description giving vague hints of what one would be up against ("fragmentary reports from the area mention sightings of a single/a group of/a horde of wild animal(s)/humanoid(s)/alien beast(s)/giant spider(s)" etc) would be great. I see that you did make some progress in that direction with zombie infestations and other such stuff, but probably most variations of strange creatures missions could have their own stuff, be it spiders, megascorpions or whatever.

Early game knives balancing
Regular knife has considerably better stats than combat knife, at least when wielded by an average soldier, despite the latter being the one meant for combat and more than twice as expensive. Also, regular knife can be taken on covert missions combat one cannot despite the fact it wouldn't be too suspicious in situations where regular knife is allowed.

Zombie missions
Zombies seem more aggressive - and frankly, they're much better now. Some missions with them may be harder, perhaps, as you have actual traditional zombie scenario of whole hordes running at you in numbers greater than what you can quickly dispose of in the beginning, but it also makes the fights more dynamic and not drag as long as before. First time I had to pull agents from a regular "strange creatures" zombie mission as they just got swarmed. Also, first time I found it worthwhile to set up firing zones with flamers and (the agricultural flamer itself seems awful at actually setting zombies on fire, but it does make firewalls zombies avoid). Good change.

However, now that they all rush, they keep making that charge roar all the time. Changing it to something less bothersome when it's repeated 10 - 15 times a turn, some short zombie moan/groan for example would be better. Or even disabling it till replacement will be found.

Also, not sure if intended but now that zombie infestation is its own kind of mission, maybe zombie variant of strange creatures mission where it's not just a couple of zombies isn't necessary?

Madmen' rampages
In several games across several versions, "madman rampage" enemies or "concerned citizens" seemed to be unable to squeeze their missions into the roster and are very rare in general. In current version "strange creatures" mission happens all the time but I had literally one single mission with some "homicidal" type enemy before I moved (without rushing, either) far enough in plot that I didn't even dare to expect they'll show up anymore. And they didn't, that was one, single instance of that mission in whole campaign so far. Never even got to fight other "homicidal" enemies and I recall there being several.

Mission clusters
Missions seems to show up in "clusters" even more so that it'd seem a couple of versions ago. A year without zombie infestation mission and then I suddenly had 2 following about 2 strange creatures sightings, all in a span of one day. Then several days of a pause, then again a couple of missions pop out nearly one after another. Missions shouldn't happen completely regularly, but at the same time having them clustered like that is weird.

Early game and pacing
It seems we get new content but the pacing is still the same as many, many versions ago, which makes it easy to skip by some of content. Extending the early game phase, requiring some more time to get each promotion and pushing the date of official beginning of alien invasion back may help there.

Map size and enemies ambush
Some maps are smaller than before. That's okay. But now there's even more of a problem with how enemies ambush operatives. Far more frequently now there's absolutely no chance but to lose operatives at no fault of the player's - they simply spawn in sight of several armed opponents and get shot at from several directions the moment they as little as even crouch. It's neither fun, nor fair nor well-designed and simply makes save-scumming not even an option but a necessity at times as sometimes missions aren't winnable because of particular enemy strengths but because my agents parked the van in the middle of enemy group with no cover they can ever reach.

It's less of a problem later in the game where one starts inside one's own vehicles but till then, having enemies in such firefight-intensive missions have slightly less TU or even just lowered reaction stat during first player's turn so they don't just take out whole team after one player's click, before the player even gets a chance to do anything with said troops seems kinda necessary if save-scumming is to be avoided. At this point, there's no difference if there'd be a random chance of "after your van left the base the drunk driver crashed it and killed everyone" - would be as silly, but at least wouldn't waste player's time spent reaching the mission and modifying loadouts.

Smoke grenades would be ideal thing for such a situation but they won't work because mechanics-wise grenades explode after player's turn, not during it, making any cover they provide happen too late to be of any use during said first turn. Again, lowering TU and/or reactions for first player turn would at least help players position troops and throw some smoke.

Early game and content
As I've mentioned in the past, early game, when it's more of an X-Files vibe than X-COM one is also my favorite part and what makes this conversion stand out. Together with above idea of changing pacing and extending early game phase, there's a lot of potential here that's simply untapped.

Especially with new mechanics like reinforcements. For example, basic cult/gang mission "suspect apprehension" could very much use it in a way that requires XCOM operative to apprehend the members in several turns or they get reinforced with a sizeable group of other, simialr gang members (which could be even kind of challenge for those hoping to use that ambush to lure additional enemies) with additional variant of this mission where it's friendly law enforcement that shows up as reinforcement, forcing players to apprehend enemies quickly or risk them getting shot by NPCs.

Maybe even easiest apprehension missions could be covert ones, allowing any and all concealable weapons which wouldn't change much early game, where civilian clothing and small arms are the staple of XCOM's equipment, but would still add a bit to the flavor.

Or a mission that's practically unfinishable (a single enemy is hidden somewhere inaccessible to players) where a bunch of covert operatives lands in area full of early game equipment, secret files, small quantities of money and it's up to them to find and gather as much of it as they can and drop it at evac point before escaping, but every few turns a new unit or two of enemies shows up, slowly, if anything making operatives use up all the ammo - fitting for abandoned lab with zombies or other cryptids, for example).

Perhaps even a downed UFO mission where military of some country managed to take down an alien ship all on their own and XCOM under guise of law enforcement managed to get itself in support role - with player being able to see how aliens fare against human military and perhaps gather some loot and escape before said military crumbles. Or maybe said military keeps getting reinforcements ultimately defeating aliens at the cost of many lives, underlining the threat aliens pose - though in such case, no loot beside what's at the evac zone tiles should be available.

There's also other content which could be hinted at early game but isn't. For example, repeating haunting missions with a couple of hostile possessed civilians (who should still bring score penalty if killed) and a single ghost (with ectoplasm unlocking parapsychology research rather than being unlocked by it) at some haunted house would be great.

Civvies nicking stuff
Random civilians can steal weapons from XCOM's spawn. I don't know if it counts as lost at the end of th emission so I tend to stun them and take the gun back but still, I know the items just lie there in the field but it'd be nice to have some way of preventing people from taking them. Maybe it's possible for deployment tiles to be considered something like being on fire as far as AI pathfinding goes?

Another, related issue is civilians wielding picked up alien tech, one even my agents cannot use yet.

As always, events are a really nice addition and I am glad there's more of them, even if most seems rather negative in effect. Two things I'd like to notice:

They all seem to have comparable frequency, when I think some should be much more rare/common than others. For example, attacks by beasts, kidnappings by the deep ones should be more common, but so should be ones where rituals are disrupted (granting that corpse and a spear). I only had one land survey event and frankly, that probably should be far more common thing - rewards in it, the same as in disrupted deep one operation one are really weak, even by early game standard, but they'd add to the feeling that things are happening behind the scenes and balance out the impression that most events are negative.

Some events could very well offer their own research and missions. XCOM got hacked? Maybe it generates a mission next month where one disrupts some minor hacking operation - a completely regular, unaltered EXALT safehouse mission, just under different name, with different fluff, hanging around on the geoscape for long. If one feels more ambitious, changing loot items to a military computer and secret files instead of ammo/weapon boxes or switching EXALT for Osiron goons. A simple thing, again, not very hard nor profitable after early game but at a low work price the immersion and fun's greater.

Lastly, there seem to be almost no events relating to zombies despite how big role they play. Even some just along the lines of "We have multiple reports about an illness causing people to mutate into aggressive beasts not unlike those of classic zombie movies. Despite our efforts, those reports start to filter to the mainstream media and the condition itself may be responsible for disappearances among populations of small villages and remote farms, rumours of which add to the unrest."

Dossier missions
Many dossiers entries could also be done in that way. It's nice that some dossier targets get their special scenarios, but I wouldn't mind simple stuff like, for example CHAD (which could be just a recolor of MiB power-armored unit, totting some hydra laser rifle and with morale/status effects disabled) attacking XCOM base or some civilian facility early game after its dossier is researched, making it a tricky enemy given at what level XCOM is (usually I get CHAD dossier while still running around with hunting rifles, AKMs and similar) but doable. Rewards? Maybe its laser gun and an alenium crystal?

Alenium crystals, disregard if AI units are meant to be limited resource
Speaking of which, some version ago there were concerns about balancing rates of receiving crystals vs losing units (as IIRC the crystal can be lost permanently if the unit is destroyed in a fashion not leaving a corpse or the mission is lost completely). Maybe rather than just giving one usable crystals, some way of slowly gathering resources that can be recombined into such crystal could be introduced? For example, the crystal itself is not be enough, one also needs to have disposable "alien programming lattice", "resonance imprinter" and whatever other pseudotech mambo-jumbo one can think of - and only by combinining them through a simple, short-lasting manufacture order one gets a "functional AI core" item. Such parts could drop from Osiron crates or Syndicate research labs and the crystals acquired from destroyed, disassembled AI units.
Thanks to that there'd be some way of getting more AI units, but it also requires collecting resources over a span of succesful battles - and makes enemy AI units more valuable, upping their value is fair given how often (at least in my case) they require use of powerful explosives to take down, risking destruction of the "corpse".

The informant
Regarding non-dossier special units - the informant mission is yet to make it possible for me to retrieve the informant alive. Almost always, given where he spawns, enemies find him in first one or two turns. Not sure if that's intended or if there's even any value in keeping him alive.

Inventory spacing
I recall long time ago someone adding handcuff graphics that was deemed not as bad as previous iterations but it wasn't still implemented yet and we have bulky two-tile handcuffs still - is it still not good enough even just a temporary measure to change handcuff bulkiness? Also, in general many items seem bulky and spaced weirdly, making it hard to put them in "limb" slots that normally should be able to handle such items easily. Melee weapons like katanas taking more space and being as hard to wield as anti-tank missile launchers. We have one tile pistols, but some extendable, electrified batons (even just a miniaturized version of game-start ones which are supposedly telescopic but in reality are as big as wooden clubs) and better one-tile knives that could be smuggled on any covert mission would be great, make sense and be quite practical. I know that items can change graphics when they're in hand vs when they're stored elsewhere so visuals shouldn't be a problem.

Hydra and laser tech
Rsearching hydra laser should probably be alternative lead to laser weapon technology. It wouldn't unbalance anything since the tech itself is just a prerequisite and one requiring certain lab (and often the player will get alien laser rifles before then) but it'd make sense.

Vanilla aliens vs other enemies and XCOM troopers balancing
A thing I suspected earlier but now confirmed - aliens have stats not balanced well compared to other units.

A series of early and mid-game checks (Veteran difficulty) made me see a puny, thin-limbed sectoid that could:
- react faster than trained, experienced troopers with dozens of completed missions
- repeatedly overpower in "gun struggle" a high-ranked operative with 50 - 60 points of strength and finished training, be they the ones trying to shoot or prevent being shot point-blank
- when shot at from somewhat covered location - repeatedly do a spin in reaction fire and then tap out a sniper from across most of a medium-sized map with just a laser or plasma pistol

Sure the missions are still beatable, but the pure stat difference, no matter RNG luck often makes it seem like the game discourages tactics - it's all about either cheesing and exploiting AI mistakes or just out-tanking most aliens in primitive heavy-caliber slugfest where you exchange hard-hitting attacks till one side has no units left.

I don't want just weaker enemies but more differences between them, greater variation. Strong aliens, weak aliens. Even Storm-taking enemies seemed less purely physically able than those little grey guys - sectoids of non-soldier type shouldn't compare to even rank-and-file human solder by stats alone but depend on their powerful equipment.
Armored units should be very slow but be able to shrug off weakest of weapons.

In general, more enemies, especially stuff like sectoid engineers or just random Dagon priests should be stat-wise very weak as they weren't even meant for combat but still can pack a punch due to their powerful toys, and some combat-dedicated troops should be some danger even when their weapons are rendered ineffective. Especially Red Dawn, due to aforemenetioned Storm, should be much more eager and capable unarmed vs other NPCs and possibly on par with Black Lotus (with former being much less accurate but stronger, while the latter reacts better and is more accurate in melee). Currently most humanoid enemies work the same in this regard and the only difference between them lies in what attack they can do/what weapon they use.

Funnily enough, when it comes to melee even weak, all melee enemies, beasts and human aline, somehow either miss completely or are able to take down my rather healthy, high-rank and somewhat armored operatives with just a few whacks with random improvised weapons, with rarely any in-between (injured, yet still well-capable of fighting) results.

Psionics and the plot
As always, it's nice to see more plot developments/storyline missions but I tend to notice that for how much world-changing things psionics is, it doesn't seem really that much underlined in fluff itself. I am yet to see missions where it'd be the main concern - no homegrown occultists to arrest or perform services for in exchange for mystical knowledge, no books of purely human magical lore to study, no non-Dagon rituals (with exception of that one pentagram at mental asylum) that actually would seem to do anything. It's a pretty good potential plot-driver with its various applications mentioned in many dossiers, hopefully you'll explore it further!

Will write more as I keep going through old and new content in a fresh new game, should time allow. Unless it'll be just bugs, then I post those in the relevant thread.

The X-Com Files / "Reactive" missions/events
« on: May 31, 2020, 02:52:57 pm »
A small idea I've thought up when I was playing. Some missions, when not embarked upon are rare and lost seemingly forever, but with almost no lasting consequences. I wonder if it'd be possible to add missions or even those random events dependant on whether previous missions were done by certain point of the game, both to allow player to have another try (or experience at all) at the content previously missed in some form, and to make overall progression less linear.

I think about stuff like Red Dawn making a big offensive if Morozova is never found or defeated at all, sometimes random events talking about cleaners team sent to some past Red Dawn lodgings being taken out by some sniper and a chance for a small undercover mission where Morozova was tracked down without almost any of her comrades and the player sends underequipped, covert agents to try to take her out/in, where tactical thinking will be much more helpful than simple pistols against her customized rifle.

Or how I have seen the mission with Spider Queen, before it disappearing and not happening anymore despite years passing since then - would be nice to have development of that for players in similar situation or one's simply lost the mission. Moderately frequent regular spiders attacks in random places similar to regular strange creature sighting missions that wouldn't stop till one would track and fight (much more likely to show up till defeated) a queen again, but this time perhaps more of her kids are the armored spider variant serving as proper guards.

It'd probably take some work (depending on how developed one would want such missions) and some of it could be missed by certain players so I understand if it's just too much to do, but on chance it does sound interesting, it certainly would allow other players who missed previous content some chance at it and add to the feeling of player actions and decisions mattering more.

The X-Com Files / Readiness mechanics discussion
« on: January 14, 2020, 02:31:49 pm »
[Split from Bugs, crashes, typos & bad taste]

Thanks for the creative report :)
No problem!

But to the point: aren't you simply suffering from low Readiness?
Some of the units do, but as mentioned in the middle paragraph:
I am wondering if it has something to do with the new fancy readiness stat balancing, but even at very low readiness, fully trained, full-fledged agents with some medals and succesful missions under their belts, in good health and with equipment in order shouldn't panic at the sight of an empty brick house just standing there.
So, especially since I had a few other issues to report in my previous post as well (embassies/very large UFOs spam and laser rifles problem) and I read in your other post that
Depending on your playstyle, it can be a significant help, compared to no Readiness system.
I thought I'll report constant unit freak outs over nothing for the sake of balance consideration btw as even high rank, decent Bravery stat units entering the mission with 25% - 35% of readiness after dozen or so of turns are prone to morale-lock freaking out practically every turn, even over nothing, with no enemies and no injuries, becoming bigger threat toward each other than those enemies. I can understand really exhausted troops with less energy/TU but no way anyone would hire troopers THIS psychotic over being tired, especially when the mission sometimes is just "yo, there's a giant scorpion somewhere in this desert - shoot it and go home, will you?". ;)

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