Author Topic: Brainstorming for slower technological progression  (Read 23351 times)

Offline Hadan

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Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« on: September 27, 2013, 11:07:33 pm »
Good evening,

after looking at all the new weapons and airplanes modders have added to the game, it started to bug me that most of the starting equipment becomes obsolete the instant you gain access to laser rifles and from there it only takes one landed ufo to give you all the possible research you need to get earths tech-level nearly on par with that of the aliens.

So I started to think about changes to the tech-tree to make the progress slower to keep earhts weapons in use longer. I also thought about some improved earth weapons, but I will keep that for a later time.

For reference, here is the present tech-tree:
https://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php?title=Research_Trees

Some quick thoughts:
- Increase the research time for some core technologies
- Add more research that has to be done before Plasma can be researched (alien alloys, maybe E115), maybe add a basic topic "plasma technology"
- You have to interrogate some aliens before you can research parts of the UFO (Navigator for UFO Navigator, Engineer for the Power Source etc) - I know TFTD did this very badly, but without the bugs it might not be to bad  ;)
- You have to research mind probe before you can interrogate an alien

What do the community think, is this a plan worth thinking about?
Any more ideas for the tech-tree?

best regards
Hadan

Offline Gifty

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 12:36:54 am »
I'm all for this, I think the game is at its most tense when you're still using puny Earth weapons, and that gets lost far too quickly. The big one from my perspective is delaying laser weapons; if you rush for them at the start of the game, you can often have laser pistols by the second or third mission, which is silly. They should take far longer to develop.

I actually don't mind the idea of requiring alien captures for certain technologies (as in the case of Navigator > Hyperwave Decoder), so long as it's not sadistically rigid or overwrought. Xenonauts uses this dynamic very well, with nearly every live capture having some sort of unique benefit, and I think that would be a good model to look at.

In any tech rebalancing discussion, there's also going to be the inevitable issue of the Heavy Plasma. There's got to be a way to make it harder to develop so it doesn't instantly overtake the standard Plasma Rifle and make it obsolete. I'd vote for increasing the research time generously, and making it a linear progression from Standard Plasma > Heavy Plasma, so you can't skip ahead.

Online kevL

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2013, 01:32:57 am »
XcomUtil has what may be its most underused feature: Research Help.

The name may be ironic because far from helping, it increases research times tenfold (iirc). But then for alien techs whenever an appropriately ranked alien is captured live, a significant chunk of that increased time is reduced via interrogation of the alien. A sectoid leader, for example, might reduce research on Psi by 20% -- while a captured ethereal commander might reduce it 50%; any soldier might reduce research on alien grenades 50%, but a medic returns nada.

I regard this as an eventual must for my own style of gameplay: slower tech progress + need for live aliens. With those rules, it becomes vastly beneficial to have multiple, carefully chosen research projects on the go at the same time

However, earth-based laser tech doesn't benefit from captures -- i think it just gets the tenfold increase in time needed till completion.

Offline OwenQ

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2013, 04:13:31 am »
I've been thinking much along the same lines. I've been tinkering with my own personal Ruleset(s) ever since the wiki page showed up. I actually finished planning out what I wanted to do in terms of tech-tree rearrangement yesterday, and the OP and I seem to have some similar ideas. Here's the gist of what I've got;

Just to be clear, a major goal was to make Plasma weapons extremely special. Beyond making them harder to research, I removed the ability to manufacture them, and intend to play with the 'alien weapons are destroyed on death' option on. So basically, captured plasma only. I did add an extra tier of weapons to offset this (railguns), but they still aren't as wildly effective as plasma weapons.

As for research, the pertinent part of what I've got planned and hope to playtest sometime soon:

- Everything, except the Motion Scanner and Medi-kit, are locked behind either Alien Alloys or Elerium-115, if not both.
- Laser Weapons require Elerium-115. (This makes it about 3 times longer 'til you get Laser Weapons if I read the ruleset right; It also puts them on the road to better craft, but what can I do?)
- Any captured engineer, once researched, will unlock Plasma Theory and the UFO Power Source.
- Plasma Theory is one requirement for Plasma weapon unlocks; It's also a prerequisite for my Railguns.
- UFO Construction no longer requires UFO Navigation (furious handwaving about making do with earth radar or something)
- The Lightning project now comes before the Firestorm project, which sort of 'forces' its use.
- Firestorms DO require UFO Navigation which...
- Snakemen or Muton Engineers (and the apparently-theoretical Ethereal Engineers) unlock UFO Navigation and, along with Plasma Theory, allow you to finally be able to research those captured plasma weapons. (This is pretty much a straight-up gamist make it rare/later in the game type thing)
- Plasma Weapons follow the Laser precedent of Pistol unlocks Rifle unlocks Heavy (as Gifty suggested)

This is the gist of what would be pertinent to the base game, I think. I haven't messed with how long it takes to acquire techs as yet as I want to see how there being a more complicated tree affects the pace of the game.

I hadn't thought of making the Mind Probe be a prereq for interrogation, and it's an idea I'd love to steal. I considered getting really nasty and requiring any alien corpse research to unlock the Alien Containment facility as well, but that might be a tad much.

Another idea I toyed with (but ultimately decided against) was to require Alien Medic research for a set of more effective versions of Earth weapons, based on the idea of learning more about alien physiology.

Offline moriarty

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2013, 08:34:43 am »
I was trying to do a similar thing... I added several "layers" of technological understanding, basically meta-research subjects which would take a while to research and allow research of more complicated technologies. I called them "basic elerium tech", "advanced elerium tech", "nasic plasma tech", "advanced plasma tech", "elerium fusion tech" and "elerium gravity tech".

Then I tried to make alien weapons non-usable, instead adding the possibility to retrofit a captured weapon to make it usable - basically adding a manufacture item that uses the alien weapon and manufactures a human-usable weapon.

I haven't successfully created the ruleset yet, though - it crashes the game on startup :) probably tried to add too many things at once and made some stupid mistakes in there somewhere.


Maybe we could bundle our efforts and create one "longer game" ruleset together?

Offline Gifty

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2013, 11:24:26 am »
I considered getting really nasty and requiring any alien corpse research to unlock the Alien Containment facility as well, but that might be a tad much.

I actually am a big fan of this idea; create an "alien biology" tech that opens up once you recover a corpse. It'd be available after just one mission, so it really wouldn't set the player back dramatically, but it would add to that frantic feel of racing against the clock by eating up precious early-game research time, and makes very good story sense (we'd know better how to contain an alien once we've actually gotten a look at one). It is pretty nasty, though. :P

I'm also partial to the idea of plasma theory being required for plasma weapons; I think making plasma research more symmetrical with laser research in general is a good thing.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 11:28:01 am by Gifty »

Offline Hadan

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2013, 01:09:20 pm »
Wow, talk about a hornets nest  ;D

Some excellent ideas here, I will try to compile them into a list later.

Offline moriarty

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2013, 01:57:53 pm »
I too like the idea that you need an alien body to research alien containment before you can hold a live alien. Actually, I think you should have researched alien alloys before being able to contain a chryssalid or a silacoid :D

Maybe we could also add random events that can occur when having live aliens in the containment. Breakouts or base infestations come to mind. Remember those eggs the snakemen have inside? Perhaps they could deposit them in an unsecured airduct, and suddenly your base is attacked by snakemen from the inside...

Ah, back to my version, to clarify it further: you need basic plasma tech to retrofit an alien plasma weapon (simply replace the trigger with something humans can handle). Those retrofitted weapons use the same ammo, but they aren't as accurate as the alien weapons. Once you researched advanced plasma tech and basic elerium tech, you can manufacture your own plasma weapons.

Offline Hadan

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2013, 02:09:01 pm »
Ah, back to my version, to clarify it further: you need basic plasma tech to retrofit an alien plasma weapon (simply replace the trigger with something humans can handle). Those retrofitted weapons use the same ammo, but they aren't as accurate as the alien weapons. Once you researched advanced plasma tech and basic elerium tech, you can manufacture your own plasma weapons.
On one hand I really like this idea, on the other hand all non-terror-aliens have "normal" hands with fingers & opposable thumbs, so a plasma weapon should be pretty easy to use so restricting its use would make little sense lore-wise.

Offline moriarty

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 02:20:27 pm »
I was actually thinking that those weapons don't have a mechanical trigger at all, instead relying on some kind of psi-related activation circuit, possibly available after researching psi (or perhaps mind probe?).
I had also thought about actually needing an alien weapon and a mind probe to construct a human weapon - would finally give some use to the mind probe :)

Offline MKSheppard

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2013, 09:35:19 pm »
Make alien alloys play a much increased role in the game.

There are so many things that alien alloys could be used for in real life!

For example, the "autocannon".  In real life when they adopted Titanium for some parts in the M134 minigun (what is used in PREDATOR), the weight of the gun dropped from 62~ lbs to 41~ lbs. Weight reductions would be more with alien alloy, making it possible for the minigun to actually be a "man portable personal weapon" weighing about 30~ pounds.

Also, alien alloys could be used to create advances in battery technology, whether through conventional rechargeable batteries via replacing conventional nickel or lithium plates in batteries with Alien Alloys.

Or, you could use alien alloys in something a bit more unconventional -- the Mark 50 torpedo for the US Navy used a Stored Chemical Energy Propulsion System (SCEPS) which had a small tank of sulfur hexafluoride gas sprayed over a block of solid lithium. This reaction caused enormous quantities of heat, which was used to drive a rankine cycle engine; and because the reactant byproducts took up less space than the original reactants....it was pretty much closed cycle.

So imagine having to "load" a 99 round SCEPS into your laser rifles. This would explain how we somehow got man portable lasers with the power density necessary to kill other living things at long ranges, yet not need an extension cord leading from the skyranger!

Offline MKSheppard

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 09:38:41 pm »
I was actually thinking that those weapons don't have a mechanical trigger at all, instead relying on some kind of psi-related activation circuit, possibly available after researching psi (or perhaps mind probe?).

I had also thought about actually needing an alien weapon and a mind probe to construct a human weapon - would finally give some use to the mind probe :)

That's actually brilliant -- and explains why we don't just capture a Plasma Rifle and then immediately turn around and give it to a squaddie; because it's pretty obvious where the magazine goes, what the magazine is; and how you point and aim the rifle and fire it.

EDIT: And if weapons have a psi-trigger, then what's stopping the weapon from being psonically linked to it's user's health?

Basically, if the Psi trigger detects that it's authorised user has expired suddenly; and if it doesn't get "reset" by an engineer within a certain amount of time; then it automatically destroys itself. You'd still be able to figure out some rudiments of how the system works from the self-destroyed guns, but you'd be missing a lot.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 09:52:52 pm by MKSheppard »

Offline MKSheppard

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2013, 09:58:19 pm »
I too like the idea that you need an alien body to research alien containment before you can hold a live alien. Actually, I think you should have researched alien alloys before being able to contain a chryssalid or a silacoid :D

Once again, you're brilliant.

"Alien Containment" I think is a misnomer. It's not just about keeping an alien in a steel-walled tank for us to poke at it. It's keeping it *alive*; which means more than just pumping in air. You have to give it food and liquids to keep it alive over a decent period of time. Corpses could be analyzed for their stomach contents and this could be used to develop "Alien Food Substitutes" that you feed them.

Offline moriarty

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2013, 10:39:32 pm »
precisely :)

so we'd have a perfectly sound explanation to why the gun cannot simply be used by humans and why it can only be obtained from a captured live alien.

now, about the tech tree... I would do something like this:

completed research on any alien weapon + corresponding ammo (+ maybe "alien alloys"?) yields research project "alien weapon tech"

"alien weapon tech" + "alien weapon xy" researched allows retrofitting of that weapon (manufacturing of "retrofitted xy", which uses 1 item "xy" + maybe 1 unit of alien alloys)

retrofitted weapon has reduced accuracy and increased TU use, because it replaces the thought-activated aim and trigger mechanism by a simple mechanical trigger

"elerium 115" + "any pair of plasma weapon + clip" researched yields research project "elerium plasma tech"

"elerium plasma tech" + "alien weapon tech" + "any pair of plasma weapon + clip" + "mind probe" researched allows manufacture of "human plasma weapon xy" and corresponding clip

manufacture of human plasma weapon xy needs "mind probe"

human plasma weapon has normal accuracy and TU use, but maybe reduced damage? is that even possible when using the same ammo?

"elerium 115" + "blaster bomb" + "blaster launcher" yields new research topic "elerium fusion tech"

"elerium fusion tech" allows manufacture of "blaster bomb"
"elerium fusion tech" + "alien weapon tech" allows retrofit of "blaster launcher"

retrofitted blaster launcher is a direct-fire weapon! waypoint programming is too complex and requires further research

"elerium fusion tech" + "alien weapon tech" + "blaster launcher" + "mind probe" yields new research project "mind-guided missiles"

"mind-guided missiles" allows construction of "human blaster launcher"
"mind-guided missiles" yields research project "fusion ball launcher" (the craft weapon)


Offline OwenQ

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2013, 11:22:20 pm »
I really like the psionic-linked guns; I was going to attribute it to some sort of genetics thing, which is about as feasible and supported in the lore. My only concern is whether Mind Probes are one of those things that dry right up as you go later in the game; I honestly can't remember. It also gives you a reason to hold on to them despite their large sale price. My other only concern ( :P ) is that it does mean that the end of the tech tree convenes around psionics. That may just be a personal foible though.

To answer moriarty's question, I don't think there's a way to have a gun determine the amount of damage dealt if it has a clip; It tried giving a pistol power 250 and it seems to be using the power listed for the pistol clip.

Personally one thing I'd like to see come out of this topic is a sort of baseline 'Marathon' ruleset for research. No new actual game items, just a reshuffled tech tree, possibly with new "layers", as moriarty called them which are essentially point-eaters that get some fluff in the UFOPaedia. The goal here would be to get a significant period of game time between tech 'tiers'. Hopefully this would allow for other people to make compatible mods that insert new items for rebalancing purposes into certain points of this baseline tech tree. The layers would make this fairly easy; just decide whether your new items are, say, Basic Elerium or Elerium Fusion and they branch from that topic.

I think having the game take longer is something a lot of folks can agree on while I imagine all of us have a different tack to take for new content. Hopefully this way we'd get some variety that would be fairly easy to just plug-and-play to get compatible. (or I may be overthinking the whole thing; I dunno)