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Author Topic: Looking for the next mod to play (for 3 years)  (Read 503 times)

Offline NiceMicro

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Looking for the next mod to play (for 3 years)
« on: November 07, 2021, 04:46:10 am »
Hi Guys!
I've been playing OpenXCom on my YouTube channel for about 3 years now, and well, it's the same game (I don't have that much time and I'm not that good at it okay?  :D). It is the Area 51 mod which I really enjoy, and it's being discontinued, so I already have some trouble as OpenXCom is getting updated but the mod isn't. Anyways, I will be finishing the game (hopefully with a victory soon), so I'm looking for options for the next 3 years to enjoy  ;D.

The things I loved from the way Area 51 was, and would be happy to see in an other mod (in decreasing order of importance):
- more aliens, UFO models than vanilla,
- more diverse weapons and stuff to research, manufacture and use that gives new tactical possibilities,
- more diverse tile sets for terrains, terror and base missions than vanilla,
- more diverse missions, not just the UFO recovery, base defense, alien base assault and terror missions,
- doesn't rewrite the whole game, keeps the spirit of the original and builds on top of it.

I'm planning to play on OXCE.
So here's a list I've found fascinating and interesting, please correct me if I'm wrong, or add more suggestions.
1. The X-Com Files -- (pros) The new terrains, equipment, factions, missions all seem amazing. (cons) It seems like a major departure from the original X-Com, and might end up a very very long game.
2. Hardmode Expansion -- (pros) Seems like hitting all the major points I want from a mod. (cons) It might be lacking in new mission types and it is advertised for its extreme difficulty, which is not what I'm looking for.
3. Final Modpack -- (pros) Seems very similar in spirit to the Area 51 mod. (cons) I'm not sure what the "new missions" would entail, how much diversity would that bring. I don't know how much time the author has to fix bugs as they're working on the X-Com Files now.
4. Reaver's Harmony or Reaver's Faithful -- (pros) Seems very similar in spirit to the Area 51 mod. (cons) Can't figure out the difference between Harmony and Faithful.

Thank you for reading, and if you're a developer of any of these mods or someone who played any of these and would want to share how you'd think the mods you played would match with my list of "expectations", I'm interested in reading your opinions!

Online The Reaver of Darkness

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Re: Looking for the next mod to play (for 3 years)
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2021, 08:59:44 pm »
Sorry for the late response. I thought I had responded sooner, but I see that I have not.

The X-Com Files is also very difficult, so beware.

Hardmode X-Com, Final Mod Pack, and my Faithful mod are all fairly true to the original spirit of the game, varying in which directions and how much we stray from the original. Mine is in between, while Hardmode is more similar to the original game in spirit, and Final Mod Pack deviates further.

In fact, most megamods are quite difficult, usually significantly more difficult than the original game. If you're looking for something easier, I have four recommendations. These are in order from about the same difficulty as vanilla to easiest: UNEXCOM, Reaver's Faithful (on Beginner), Equal Terms, and Reaver's Harmony (on Beginner). Harmony deviates quite a bit further from the feel of the original game. I tried to stay true to what I saw as the design goal, but made many concessions in terms of gameplay for the sake of balance and gameplay freedom. But Harmony features an advanced difficulty scaling system, enabling you to choose a broader range of difficulty than perhaps any other single mod in the whole community.

The X-Com Files is very long, and it stays strongly within the universe of X-Com while straying very far in terms of the feel of the original. Story-wise, it's essentially the same game yet fleshed out much further. Gameplay-wise, it's like night and day. Final Mod Pack and The World of Terrifying Silence (TFTD) both play to the same idea: fleshing out the existing lore in new interpretations. And then X-Piratez and From the Apocalypse are both mods which fit within the vanilla storyline but in a different time period. From the Apocalypse is mostly canonical (based on X-Com: Apocalypse), while X-Piratez is purely fanon. X-Piratez is also a very difficult mod, and it is the largest and most popular mod in the entire community.

Final Mod Pack has been VERY extensively tested and should be generally bug-free. But Solarius Scorch manages it and is active, thus he will fix any bugs which do crop up.

The difference between Harmony and Faithful: Faithful is my original mod. A spark of inspiration gave me a huge list of major design changes all at once, so I ceased development of Faithful and re-branded the project as Harmony. In essence, Faithful is just Harmony but younger and less changed from the original. If you're worried about bugs, I would push you more toward Harmony than Faithful. But just the same, if you report to me any bugs with either, I will get them fixed--though not necessarily in a hurry. Fastest response is to message me on Discord, next fastest is to send a PM here on the forums. But allow me to advertise Harmony, my baby, to you:
 - It doesn't really contain new aliens per se, but there are some unique models and recolors for certain cases. The alien lineup is more diverse, but not in the way that Area 51 is. Perhaps it is more lore-friendly in that respect.
 - There are many new weapons added; most are based on fleshing out the original lineup, but several weapons are entirely new. This includes not only weapons for soldiers, but for tanks, aircraft, and even base defense.
 - Manufacturing is massively fleshed out, with tons of room to make good money if you spend your resources wisely. Your engineers will never sit around with nothing to do. But there is no easy money, either. The manufacturing system is very well balanced, and making the best income relies on a combination of collecting alien loot as well as knowing what to convert it into for sale.
 - Terrain diversity is slightly improved, but mostly vanilla. I plan to merge Community Map Pack into it one day, but it's not likely soon. You can run both Harmony and Community Map Pack at the same time, though some users have experienced bugs in the process. If you do, I recommend the basic version of CMP, and it is important that Harmony goes underneath CMP in the mod list!!
 - Missions are a bit more diverse. In particular, there are more UFO types, and they generally have multiple internal design layouts. Missions have greater variance in which materials you are likely to receive upon completion, so if you learn where a material comes from, it becomes easier to farm it.
 - In terms of holding onto the lore and spirit of the original, I took a hard sci-fi interpretation of existing canonical lore and changed as little as possible. There are a few cases where I tweaked original lore slightly. But mostly, I built it into a much more rigorous and sensible system that could be more believable as an actual alien invasion. I have stayed true to the original spirit of UFO mythology being generally true stories, but have steered away from the campy Green Space Ninja feel of the original.
 - Harmony has some similarities with Area 51, perhaps in spirit. They aren't particularly similar in terms of gameplay or even modding strategy. Area 51 generally maintains exact vanilla while building on top of it, while both Faithful and Harmony slightly and sometimes significantly tweak the original in almost every aspect, while Faithful in particular adds very little new content, and most of Harmony's new content shows up in the late game to help keep the game fresh for longer. Area 51 seems to feel that the original game's balance was good, while I felt that the original game's balance was abysmal.

Thanks for your interest! I have tried to remain as honest as possible. If I succeed in steering you to try my mod, hopefully it'll be without disappointment! =)
And if you are disappointed, let me know and I may adjust the mod or at least update my statements regarding it.

- - - - -

If you do give Hardmode X-Com a try, I suspect that the difficulty will be the only thing you won't appreciate. Beyond that, it sounds like essentially exactly what you're looking for. It's talked about less because it's older and hasn't been in active development for some time, but I've been chatting with Hellrazor, its author, recently. He may be coming back to re-kindle development of the mod. I've been feeding him some good ideas, and he seemed excited to discover he has a fanbase. I'm sure he'll appreciate any support, feedback, or whambulance you might have for him. XD

And no mod list is complete without mentioning 40k Mod, a total conversion set in the Warhammer 40k universe.

Offline NiceMicro

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Re: Looking for the next mod to play (for 3 years)
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2021, 02:54:33 pm »
Wow, I was not expecting such a detailed answer, thank you very much, Reaver!

I checked, and I've been playing Area 51 on Experienced (level 2) difficulty, and while it have happened a few times that I lost almost all of my good soldiers, I could always come back, so it's not like I'm against having any difficulty in the game, it's more like I'm playing "ironman style" (without the actual ironman settings because I don't want to be ruined by bugs or save file corruptions or such), and I just didn't want to end up losing the game too fast while streaming.

Your Harmony mod intrigues me based on the description, and would probably enjoy it a lot, even though Area 51 really spoiled me with its extensive alien and terrain additions. Final Mod Pack also seems interesting, and I'd really be glad to try them all (including X-Com Files, which I find really interesting based on the description!), and the only thing stopping me is not really having time to play them all  :-\

So, tentatively, I'm thinking about firing up Harmony + the Community Map Pack together. Checking the CMP's description, it's the "Vanilla Extended Edition" that should / could be used together with Harmony, right?

And one final question. As a perk for my viewers / friends on YouTube, I'm planning to override the soldier naming schemes with stuff suggested by my audience, so instead of the original names I'd like to use my own name files. Is this possible to be done with the Harmony mod?

Thank you again for the great, detailed reply!

Online The Reaver of Darkness

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Re: Looking for the next mod to play (for 3 years)
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2021, 11:09:12 pm »
I'm happy to hear you're interested! If you stream any of these, post the details in the Playthroughs section of this forum so we can come watch!

So, tentatively, I'm thinking about firing up Harmony + the Community Map Pack together. Checking the CMP's description, it's the "Vanilla Extended Edition" that should / could be used together with Harmony, right?
Yes, either Vanilla or Vanilla Extended should work about the same. Vanilla might have lower odds of conflict, but based on the descriptions I don't get that impression. The primary cause for bugs is due to how terrain is tied to missions. If you have Harmony below CMP in the mod list, it should generally resolve this. Harmony will override CMP's declarations for alternate UFO maps but will add its own instead. It should unfortunately also override terror mission maps from CMP, due to Harmony's much more minor changes to those maps, so terror missions will be stale in comparison. But the globe terrain should still apply from CMP into the UFO missions, as Harmony does not have any globe work done, nor anything altering those particular terrain declarations. Harmony does alter the vanilla terrains themselves, but as the mapscripts and declarations are unaffected, it should not override CMP's changes.

If you place Harmony above CMP in the mod list, you WILL experience bugs, most notably in that UFOs may contain the wrong artifacts, or items may be recovered incorrectly, and you may even possibly experience crashes due to the game making decisions based on objects which are not even present. The game could also possibly become unreasonably difficult or unwinnable if some of these items are made unobtainable, or made overly easy or spoil the progression curve if they are given out at the wrong times.

And one final question. As a perk for my viewers / friends on YouTube, I'm planning to override the soldier naming schemes with stuff suggested by my audience, so instead of the original names I'd like to use my own name files. Is this possible to be done with the Harmony mod?
Yes. Harmony doesn't contain any name files, so you can either replace your original name files or add them into your copy of the mod. You can also just re-name soldiers manually from within the game by clicking their names while viewing their attributes in base. You can also use an auto-naming convention based on soldier attributes with the statstrings. Harmony contains a statstrings file which has been commented out due to not functioning as intended. If you need any help on the specifics of accomplishing this, join the OpenXcom discord and ask in the modding channel for help. https://discord.gg/eEzmXVVP

Offline NiceMicro

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Re: Looking for the next mod to play (for 3 years)
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2021, 01:12:34 am »
If you stream any of these, post the details in the Playthroughs section of this forum so we can come watch!
I will announce it on the forum beforehand, for sure!
I've been doing the manual renaming of soldiers on my current stream using the live audience's suggestions, but it's a bit tedious, even though I'm well around the end of the game and there's no big carnage, mostly losing 2-3 rookies here and there, that's why I'd prefer to just put the suggestions into the automatic name generator and be amused by the results, so I'll only have to put base and plane names up for a vote directly while playing.