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Topics - MKSheppard

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Fan-Stuff / Real Life Skyranger!
« on: October 26, 2013, 08:33:41 pm »
From Secret Projects, regarding Scaled Composites SOFTA (Special Ops Forces Transport Aircraft),20555.15.html

 Tandem wing, skirt for Super-STOL, rocket assist

Model 215 is a conventional tandem wing configuration for cruise that is optimized for a high cruise L/D using high aspect ratio sailplane-like wings. The aft wing outer panels can be hinged similar to Model 208 for pitch and roll control during cruise. As shown in the section view, the entire fuselage between the canard and main wing contains a drum in which a sail-like “skirt” is rolled up and stowed for cruise. Where runway length allows, the aircraft makes conventional takeoffs and landings without the skirt high lift device. For SuperSTOL operations, the aircraft is slowed to near the stall speed, then is continuously slowed as the skirt is unfurled laterally between the canard and wing. The skirt edges are retained in tracks similar to that used on high performance racing sail boats using a continuous root-to-tip cable loop at the canard and the wing. This geometry transition results in a three-fold increase in aircraft wing area and a significant reduction in aspect ratio, allowing a steep, slow descent into the landing zone using conventional fixed wing aerodynamics. In this configuration, the aircraft is actually a cross between a rigid conventional transport and a rag-wing type ultralight aircraft. When the aircraft is in the flare several feet in the air before touchdown, rocket engines are fired facing forward at the nose. A rocket burn of approximately 2.5 seconds provides a 1.0 G deceleration and reduces the speed to 35 knots within a 75-foot ground roll. Wheel brakes are used for the remaining 50 foot ground roll, providing a total ground distance of 125 feet. Thus, the several minute noise signature of the conventional vertical landing craft is replaced by a very loud 2.5 second “What was that?” type of signature. For takeoff, aft-facing rockets provide acceleration in addition to the turbofan engines and the landing transition is reversed. Total rocket fuel, using a specific impulse of 200 seconds results in a fuel weight of approximately 850 pounds, an excellent tradeoff compared to most vertical landing systems. The rockets are used, of course, only when SuperSTOL performance is mandatory.

Suggestions / New UFO Type: Recovery Ship
« on: October 26, 2013, 06:40:31 pm »
In the mIRC chat, we were talking; and Warboy mentioned that UFO crash site length is variable -- with the code being roughly:

RNG::generate(24, 96)*3600

Which is somewhere between 1-4 days.

My idea was this:

If you arrive in the last 20-15% of the RNG generated for an UFO crash site; you run into a special battle type -- the aliens have landed a RECOVERY SHIP -- I'd imagine it to be a slightly modified SUPPLY SHIP, with emphasis on having a lot of medical type equipment -- Luke83 has done some of the artwork for this (see attached photo); and lots of open space full of random piles of alien equipment -- such as melted down ingots of alien alloy from the hull of the ship being recovered.

An even crazier alternate is to have the RECOVERY SHIP be absolutely huge -- huge enough to have the UFO being recovered sit inside a huge hangar bay inside the recovery ship.

This comes from the line of thought I had regarding UFO recoveries -- the aliens have a few choices open to them:

First is to fix the UFO up enough to have it slowly fly off -- feasible for multi-engine ships

Second is to cut apart the UFO into pieces if it's too badly damaged (all power sources blowed up); like with smaller ships -- basically junkyard stripping it and crushing it into a cube.

Third is to obliterate the entire crash site with a UFO laser -- I'd imagine unfeasible for any of the larger ships; plus the huge flash of light and explosion would attract attention from human authorities.

Fourth is to pick up the damaged unflyable ship with a bigger UFO :D

Suggestions / Defining Lighting (aka different Flare types)
« on: October 26, 2013, 06:13:47 pm »
This came to me just now; thanks to the code clean up to reduce electroflare management in the recent nightlies....

Would it be possible to un-hardcode the radius of light that an item throws via the ruleset, so that you could have flares and other light emitting items defined by:

LightRadius: How many squares of light is lit up by the object -- Electroflares are 9.

LightDuration: How many turns the object can emit light once thrown. -1 would be infinite number of turns.

This would enable multiple generations of flares to be used by XCOM -- you could have early chemical flares emitting 4 light and lasting say 8 turns, which aren't recoverable (recover: false) similar to road flares today at the start of the game, giving way to ElectroFlares; 5 light and lasting say 9 turns, and recoverable; ultimately being replaced by Elerium Flares, giving 15 light and lasting infinitely besides being recoverable.

Work In Progress / Converting XCUTIL to OpenXCOM
« on: October 24, 2013, 12:54:50 am »
First *crude* attempts at converting some of XCOMUTIL by Scott Jones to Open XCOM.

Rulesets so far -- I'm breaking them up so that they can be as modular as you want them to be.


High Explosive does 200 damage. This adds the ability to blow holes in the sides of alien crafts.


This adds auto-fire to the pistol. Auto-fire will have the same accuracy and as many Time Units as 3 snap shots. While this may look like a lot of TU's it eliminates the alien reaction chance between shots, giving a chance to kill and not be killed with this weak weapon.


Allows the Skyranger to carry 1 weapon.


Allows the Interceptor and Firestorm to carry troops/HWPs.

Work In Progress / Color Replaced X-COM Units
« on: October 20, 2013, 02:22:50 am »
Sir, the tech boys have come up with a quick and dirty concept of plating the standard X-COM ARMOR blah blah blah.

Includes a ruleset: Colored_Power_Armor.rul that adds crudely:

Sunfire Suit (orangey tone)
 XCOM scientists have found a way to plate the POWER SUIT with a coating that is highly resistant to plasma weaponry (200% protection). This comes at a cost as it is more brittle against conventional weapons (50% protection).

Psonic Armor (Purple)
XCOM scientists have found a way to plate the POWER SUIT with a coating that increases the wearers' resistance against psonically based attacks. This comes at a cost, as it is 50% more susceptible to damage of all types.

The stats for the Psonic armor don't really work as it's kind of a place holder at the moment.

Suggestions / String for SMOKE type weapons
« on: October 03, 2013, 05:32:28 pm »
Is it possible to insert a new string reading "SMOKE" for smoke weapons (damageType: 9), since this has bugged me for a while (see attached).

Troubleshooting / 2013-09-29 18:33 GIT no longer sees ruleset strings
« on: September 29, 2013, 08:37:21 pm »
GITBuild 0.9 2013-9-29 18:33 no longer sees strings placed into a ruleset, e.g.

Code: [Select]
  - type: English

Same thing happens with additional nations on the globe in my ruleset, with this odd effect:

When the globe is zoomed out far enough so you can't see any text on the globe -- everything moves at a fast clip, but when you zoom in enough to see country names and city names, it all slows down to a crawl.

Suggestions / Color of Nation Text Indicates Alien Activity?
« on: September 28, 2013, 10:21:17 pm »
Had this idea for an ADVANCED OPTIONS feature -- toggle on whether the color of the nation text on the geoscape indicates the level of alien activity there?

Basically GREEN (as it is now) little activity, YELLOW, a bit sporty, and RED is alien grand central.

Troubleshooting / Slight graphical glitch in Craft equip screen.
« on: September 26, 2013, 03:37:02 am »
Part of the bitmap for the top view is being cut off:

Left is Original DOS UFO in DOSBOX, right is well you know.

Discovered this bug while making a large oversized 15x40~ pixel image for a alien alloy interceptor's hangar top down view.

Resources / Palettes for XCOM in GIMP/Paintshop format
« on: September 19, 2013, 12:41:44 am »
Just what the header of this thread says...

Anyone have them?

Admin Edit: Get the latest palettes here:

Released Mods / [GLOBE] Improved Nations Mod
« on: August 29, 2013, 09:42:33 pm »
This mod adds several dozen new nations to the game; along with many more cities.

Basic formula I used to determine funding pricing was:

All nations contribute a flat fee of 75 to the XCOM project.

Then they're assessed a basic GDP contribution fee of their GDP divided by 125. E.g. a nation with $7,751 per capita GDP would have to pay 62.01.

Next up is population contribution fee; population divided by 5,000,000. A nation with 1.2 billion people would then have to pay approximately 240.

Finally there's special fees:

NUCLEAR POWER: 135 (Known nuclear powers like US, UK, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, China, Russia)

SHARED NUCLEAR POWER: 62.5 (People who share nukes under dual NATO control -- Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey)

It's important to note that 1999 was a long time ago regarding economic growth -- Russia was still in the dumps following the breakup of the USSR; along with many former WARPAC states -- Germany was still swallowing up Eastern Germany, etc.

You want to download and use


Original post below:


First of all, I'd like to thank SupSuper for adding LAT/LONG coordinates when you click the cursor in debug mode; that has made adding nations to OXCOM a lot easier.

My current plan is to fill in a lot of the world, as shown by the map, along with doing minor globe nation defended area fixes.

Attached is my current ruleset as of 25 SEP 2013. (Depreciated, go down a few posts for latest version)

Progress on it is:

Sakhalin Island added to territory

Hawaii added
Alaska added

Siberia has been extended a bit towards the pole.
Sakhalin Island added to territory (RUS/JAPAN claim it in real life)

Tasmania added to territory
New Zealand added to territory (ANZUS Pact)

Territory has been extended a bit towards the pole.

MEXICO has been added.
PHILIPPINES has been added
TAIWAN has been added
--Tapei has been added as a city.
KOREA has been added.
PAKISTAN has been added
IRAN has been added
SAUDI ARABIA has been added
--Riyadh has been added as a city.

Fan-Stuff / Any pointers for learning C++?
« on: August 29, 2013, 07:33:46 am »
Currently, I'm playing around in Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Express; and I've got a ton of C++ books, some on loan from the library, some bought from used book stores; and there's always the INTERTUBEZ to help me.

Right now, I've managed to make a simple Win32 Console CLI application that does simple area calculations (hey a start is a start), but I was wondering if you guys had any specific recommendations regarding books for learning or any rules of thumb that you've painfully learned.

PS - Yes, I admit the big reason I picked C++ to learn was because OpenXCOM is programmed in it  ;D

Suggestions / Additional Geoscape Debug Features
« on: August 29, 2013, 07:22:08 am »
Was wondering if it would be possible to toggle drawing the country polygon areas on the geoglobe; along with another debug that shows the current coordinates of the mouse cursor on the geoglobe.

This would make adding new countries to any "extended" XCOM a lot easier and require less trial and error.

Offtopic / Detailed Critique of UFO 2012 Remake by Firaxis
« on: December 29, 2012, 03:44:22 am »
My brother passed me over his copy, and I just beat it after about 25 hours.

This game is a good example of how consoles have helped and hurt PC gaming over the last what, six years.

We've been helped because consoles have forced an oasis of stability into the PC gaming world for a long time -- I've been able to play a lot of A++ titles on my PC for the last couple of years, despite my PC having been built circa 2007.

[I splurged and got 8GB of RAM and a Core 2 Quad, paid a little bit more for long term sustainability]

The limited controllability of console gamepads compared to a Keyboard+Mouse has also forced game designers to simplify their schemes. This has been for the most part, somewhat useful.


Because it forces designers to consider what is important and what's not in terms of detail; something I approve of, now that I'm in my thirties, and I find my patience for irritating stuff much reduced over my teenage years.

Back then, I could put up with a lot of irritating clicky clicky stuff.


Putting up with that kind of stuff feels too much like work.

The problem is that 'consolitis' at times goes overboard and destroys useful options/stuff; and you see this issue throughout XCOM ENEMY UNKNOWN.

The most blatant example of 'consolitis' that appears in the game is the completely stupid geoscape base system and satellite system. There's no reason for it really to exist, when UFO/TFTD managed to do the job just fine nearly 20 years ago and allowed us to place our starting base exactly anywhere in the world that we wanted.

Area 51? Done.
Superman-like Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic? Done.
Hidden in the Swiss Alps? Done.

And it also let you place the base near your home, for added role playing 'involvement'.

So why is the XCOM EU base placement system the way it is, with much less functionality? Here's a hint -- because XCOM EU came out for 360 and PS3.

Try accurately placing a new base on a world map with a controller. It's really tricky and hard.

The new base selection screen and satellite system not coincidentally can be done with the restricted non-precision control that a console player with a gamepad has.

Onto more specific issues:

The streamlining of the inventory system into slots and other suchlike.

I liked the fact that you no longer needed to build storage space, or have to keep track of your initial starting stuff like Avalanche Missiles, LMGs, or rifle clips.

This made sense because an international unit of elite operatives funded by the entire world would not run out of warehouse space to store the Ark of the Covenant and they'd most certainly wouldn't run out of 7.62mm ammunition or machine guns.

I also liked some of the aspects of the inventory system streamlining related to your operatives themselves, in terms of reducing inventory to a bunch of slots; which were:

Slot 1: Main Weapon (Class Specific)
Slot 2: Sidearm
Slot 3: Class Specific Item (Rocket Launcher/Smoke Grenade)
Slot 4: Miscellaneous (Medkit, Grenade, etc)

The problem was the slot system was totally inflexible. It meant you couldn't carry a frag grenade and a medikit at the same time.

Shep: "Hey, Mr. Solomon, why can't we carry a grenade and medikit at the same time?"

Jake Solomon: "Because I want you to make hard decisions!"

Shep: "If making hard decisions is what you want, why can't we swap out other slots, such as the sidearm or class-specific items? Your character could carry a medikit and frag grenade at the same time, or up to three medikits, but you'd have to give up item slots -- like your heavy weapons soldier would have to give up his sidearm and rocket launcher?"

Jake Solomon: "Because I want you to make hard decisions!"

Shep: "Uh, you also do realize that there's all sorts of stuff like load-bearing vests in real life that integrate pouches and rings that you can clip stuff onto to increase your load carrying capability?"

Jake Solomon: "STFU, you'll get that single special item slot and you'll like it!"

With the new inventory system, a major gameplay element of the original was also removed. In the original, you could have your soldiers pick up items on the battlescape and equip them.

This led to many fun possibilities:

1.) You could actually execute a snatch and grab mission in UFO/TFTD that was not about recovering an UFO, but sending your men out to tag and bag an alien whose corpse/unconscious body would be picked up and humped onto the Skyranger and the mission aborted. You wouldn't get the full points value of recovering the UFO, but you'd get vitally needed researchable items.

2.) Reallocating weapons amongst the squad due to losses. This enabled you to keep specialist weapons even if the person originally carrying them was killed.

This was highly useful during alien capture missions because if your 'stunner' was killed, you could pick up the weapon and continue on with the mission.

In XCOM EU if your Arc Thrower equipped squaddie is killed; you're screwed. Reload the game or just accept that you've failed the mission objectives.

It's a major suspension of disbelief breaker to believe that a highly trained operative can't pick up items on the ground. It also leads to unnecessary mission deaths which could be avoided in the original -- e.g. a soldier picks up a medikit that a bleeding-out fallen soldier was carrying, and applies it to keep them from bleeding out -- something you can't do in the remake due to the locked inventory.

The Class System for Soldiers.

At first glance, the class based system has a lot to recommend it. It enables you to keep all the weapons useful throughout the game, instead of everyone going for the Heavy Plasma and ignoring everything else.

The problem is, like the inventory slot system, the class-system is so inflexible.

Snipers are the only ones who can fire a sniper rifle,
Heavies are the only ones who can fire a rocket launcher or LMG/Heavy Laser/Heavy Plasma, etc.

In real life, there's a lot of cross-training between special forces operators (which is what XCOM would be drawing its soldiers from); in order to accomodate possible mission losses -- if your mission was to blow a bridge on a river up, you wouldn't want to abort the mission because your demolitions guy's parachute didn't open during insertion.

If your only sniper gets killed early on in a mission, that's it. There's no flexibility in the system that allows you to have a heavy weapons soldier pick up the dropped sniper rifle and fire it (albet with a penalty).

Also, there's too many classes -- while it's easy to find a plausible explanation for the Sniper and Heavy classes, due to the specialized training/physical skills needed (fine motor control to snipe and physical strength to lug a 20+ pound LMG across a field)...

...why are Assault and Support separate classes?

Wouldn't it be better to combine them into a "Standard" class that can do either role, depending on their equipment?

The new movement/fire system

After a lot of initial irritation, I actually got used to it and it worked pretty well, particularly once I remapped the "overwatch" button to be the spacebar.

The problem was that it was so limited. You were always limited to two actions, no matter what. You couldn't gain a perk that gave you three actions, or powered armor that boosted your movement.


Major Issues I Had

Squaddies having to gain experience to get a class assigned

This was something that was kind of cool at the beginning of the game, then quickly became irritating, moreso when you send out four rookies on a mission to get experience and find out their classes...and ALL FOUR BECOME SNIPERS.

This is kind of tied into the trope of 'XCOM hires rookies'.

As director of XCOM, you should be able to send out requests for personnel and get a monthly roster of people from contributing countries to pick from -- like this month, the USA has Lt. Schmuckatelli available, he's a SEAL Team Six trained sniper, blah blah blah.

Player no longer has freedom to hire/fire scientists/engineers

This reduces your free will and forces even more pre-planning onto the player; since a lot of stuff now has minimum requirements to be built/researched, etc.

You must choose from three abduction/terror sites at a time, and can only complete one mission at a time

This basically means no matter what happens, even on the easiest mode, countries start dropping out fairly early. This is pretty irritating, because it's not due to your actions, but due to game design decisions.

I mean, I could understand it if I couldn't complete a terror site mission because I didn't budget for a second skyranger to handle simultaneous raids, or because I was so wasteful with my soldiers that I didn't have enough men left to fight a terror mission, but this? This is punching me in the face!

Nerfed AI

This is a major issue I have. Apparently on the easiest level (which is still pretty damned hard), they turn off a lot of the AI, and disable most grenade use and special attacks like Chyssalid Implantations.

Meanwhile, it appears they still keep the same amount of aliens in a crashed ship as they do on the harder difficulty levels.


Sloooow speed of movement

There's no option for "fast movement" or "Fast combat", particularly important if you want to make a methodical advance to avoid casualties. I guess Firaxis had to find their "25+ hour gameplay" metric somewhere, and this was it....watching people walk over and over and over....ugh.

Suggestions / Automated Skyranger Squad Adjustment in between missions
« on: December 18, 2012, 05:02:08 pm »
I've been playing the XCOM reboot on Steam recently (my brother apparently gifted me his copy); and one thing that would be a very desired feature for Open XCOM after 1.0 is this:

Automatic Skyranger Squad Adjustment Option

When toggled ON, after each mission, have the game juggle in and out troopers according to some parameters you set (how many veterans do you want in a squad, etc) so that you have a fresh rotating mixture of rookies/lower ranking soldiers and old hands on each mission, instead of five really good guys getting all the kills; and thus leaving you boned if you lose them.

Yes, you can do this all by hand in the Original XCOM, Open XCOM, and the XCOM Steam Reboot; but it gets a bit tedious.

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