Author Topic: Brainstorming for slower technological progression  (Read 22992 times)

Offline moriarty

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #60 on: April 22, 2014, 02:51:08 pm »
If it's possible to introduce new Aliens in this way (and I agree, they would be new ranks. if it's an "alternate engineer", that can only mean a new rank.), it would emulate a kind of random research result. that would be nice.

however, back to the problem of slowing the technological progression without introducing "empty layers"... maybe the introduction of "empty layers" is actually the only way? if we fluff the empty layers out with some text, and form a true research tree with diverting and re-combining branches, we could use the empty layers as starting points for new weapons.

an example:
first analysis of a plasma weapon and corresponding clip would allow research of "plasma physics" (as well as allowing the use of said captured devices)

analysis of elerium would give you "metacritical physics"

"plasma physics" is primarily an "empty layer"; it gives you a fluff text, and opens three new research topics: "plasma generation" (which only becomes available if you researched "metacritical physics"), "plasma containment" and "plasma focusing"

"plasma generation" can also become available from analysis of alien grenades OR blaster bombs (and, of course, "metacritical physics")

"plasma generation" allows construction of alien grenades
"plasma generation" PLUS "plasma containment" allows re-creating previously researched plasma clips
"plasma generation" PLUS "plasma containment" PLUS "plasma focusing" allows re-creating previously researched alien plasma weapons, but also opens new research topics: "advanced plasma focusing" for plasma sniper weapons and "large-scale plasma weapons" for craft and base defence versions

...this way, we already split the plasma weapon technology in several parts, of which there is only one truly empty layer.
The HWP plasma weapon should become available when you are capable of building the Heavy Plasma weapon. (For that matter, I think that the HWP should simply be a weapon-carrier, which you can outfit with one weapon of your choice. Why not send a Plasma Pistol HWP into battle? Maybe it could be a little bit faster if equipped with a pistol?)

of course, a real research tree would need to be carefully balanced.

What do you think?

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #61 on: April 22, 2014, 06:11:53 pm »
If it's possible to introduce new Aliens in this way (and I agree, they would be new ranks. if it's an "alternate engineer", that can only mean a new rank.), it would emulate a kind of random research result. that would be nice.

Yeah, it would be nice, but it would also be a hell of a work. You would need to make new entries everywhere, including mission loadouts etc. I don't really think the gain is work all that effort, especially since it would mean incompatibility with pretty much every other mod. I'd rather wait for the devs to code in random treasure. ;)
(Unless someone else does it. Then I might consider this option. :P )

however, back to the problem of slowing the technological progression without introducing "empty layers"... maybe the introduction of "empty layers" is actually the only way? if we fluff the empty layers out with some text, and form a true research tree with diverting and re-combining branches, we could use the empty layers as starting points for new weapons.

The problem with empty levels - or in this case empty research topics - is that they're simply not fun. It's not just my own opinion (although I do agree), but also confirmed by many sources. It may be clever as fluff, but it's just bad game design; you don't do it, because it looks unprofessional.
Therefore I believe that perhaps not 100%, but at least 90% of research should give you something. X-Com is a very to-the-point game, with almost all research giving you concrete applications. I believe we shouldn't deviate from it.

Having said that, I am all for clever fluff and logical research trees. These things are not mutually exclusive. :)

Offline Shoes

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #62 on: April 22, 2014, 07:09:11 pm »
Sorry, but what is "type" exactly? We have the races, which are then subdivided into ranks (called "members" - STR_SNAKEMAN_SOLDIER, STR_SNAKEMAN_NAVIGATOR etc.). Neither seem to be applicable here.

I am talking about the ruleset. The alien "Sectoid Soldier" has type "STR_LIVE_SECTOID_SOLDER" with race "STR_SECTOID" and rank "STR_SOLDIER" (or something, I am making this up from memory). The race and rank are simply there for display purposes; when you interrogate a live sectoid soldier, the code looks to see if you have an alien of type "STR_LIVE_SECTOID_SOLDER". Another soldier, identical in every respect except for having type "STR_LIVE_SECTOID_SOLDER_2" could be added, simply to be required by research.

Offline Falko

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #63 on: April 22, 2014, 11:07:01 pm »
another idea to slow down technology advancement without empty results
you cant use alien weapons but can research different guns/ammo types
similar to the toxi gun in apocalypse (the clipA was meh, clip B needed ~5 life/dead alien researched and was good, clipC with max damage needed all aliens dead/alive researched)

Offline Avalanche

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #64 on: April 23, 2014, 02:20:05 am »
I've been lurking with this thread for a couple of weeks, but I just had an idea earlier today which (hopefully) could be useful. I have no idea about how actually making mods works, so this might be impossible, but here it goes.

It seems to me that there are two primary goals in mind here. One is to make the game longer, without just putting a lock on research. Two is to keep players from just going the "heavy plasma= win" route. Might it be possible to make some new aliens which are heavily resistant to plasma, and mix them into some missions? This would encourage players to diversify their loadouts, and would give some older equipment a chance to shine. You could even combine it with the gauss weapon mod which popped up earlier today. Now you've got a few new tech branches and weapons, a reason to carry plasma, lasers, and armor piercing weapons into battle, and the new alines could break up the monotony which might seep into an extra long game.

Does this seem like it might be possible to do, or is it just asking too much from the old engine?

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #65 on: April 23, 2014, 03:16:09 am »
Hello Avalanche, welcome to the forums! (Cool nick by the way. :D )

I've been lurking with this thread for a couple of weeks, but I just had an idea earlier today which (hopefully) could be useful. I have no idea about how actually making mods works, so this might be impossible, but here it goes.

It seems to me that there are two primary goals in mind here. One is to make the game longer, without just putting a lock on research. Two is to keep players from just going the "heavy plasma= win" route. Might it be possible to make some new aliens which are heavily resistant to plasma, and mix them into some missions?

Yep, definitely possible! Well, it would be much work - AFAIK, the only full-fledged new race mod in existence is Robin's Cover Alien mod - but yeah, it can be done.

This is an interesting approach to the problem anyway: from the other end. :)

This would encourage players to diversify their loadouts, and would give some older equipment a chance to shine.

Do you mean lasers as well, or just armour piercing?

You could even combine it with the gauss weapon mod which popped up earlier today.

Yep, that's partially why I was asking. ;)

Now you've got a few new tech branches and weapons, a reason to carry plasma, lasers, and armor piercing weapons into battle, and the new alines could break up the monotony which might seep into an extra long game.

Does this seem like it might be possible to do, or is it just asking too much from the old engine?

As I said: perfectly doable, if not easy. Perhaps we can use TFTD aliens for that? Tasoths? Maybe modify Ethereals to be extra-resistant to plasmas (psi fields, duh) and add Tasoths as well as Lobstermen as more normal high-level races?

Anyway, while the idea of plasma-resistant high-end aliens is interesting, I believe we should tackle the problem from the other end as well, I mean delaying progress during early stages.

Offline Avalanche

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #66 on: April 23, 2014, 06:55:47 am »
Well, I was kind of thinking that we could keep lasers in the mix, in addition to plasma weapons and the new gauss weapons. The old laser rifles don't pack quite the punch that the plasma guns do, but they've still got enough output that they're not totally worthless (like the starting firearms would be by the midgame). Perhaps there could be an "advanced laser weapons" tech branch that could up their power a bit? Maybe a laser machine gun which fires off larger bursts than the standard 3? Just something to spice things up a bit.

As for the Terror from the Deep units, I think that's a great idea. I was actually playing the Piratez mod an hour ago, and I ran into a terror unit from TFTD, so it seems like it's possible to use them. If nothing else, it shouldn't be that hard to just make a pallet swap of a preexisting race and give it new stats to use as a placeholder until some new aliens pop up, right?

In regards to keeping the player from progressing too quickly early on in the game, I'm not totally certain what can be done, other than adding a couple of empty layers towards progression (which has already been suggested). I do agree that something should be done though. The community has put a ton of effort into making new guns, but almost all of them wind up getting tossed by the wayside. I downloaded a bunch of the new guns the other day (submachine gun, machine pistol, magnum, assault rifle, and so on), but I literally had laser pistols by the time I had my first mission, and the lasers were better across the board. By the second mission I had laser rifles, and the only reason to keep using conventional guns was as a self imposed challenge.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #67 on: April 23, 2014, 03:21:47 pm »
Well, I was kind of thinking that we could keep lasers in the mix, in addition to plasma weapons and the new gauss weapons. The old laser rifles don't pack quite the punch that the plasma guns do, but they've still got enough output that they're not totally worthless (like the starting firearms would be by the midgame). Perhaps there could be an "advanced laser weapons" tech branch that could up their power a bit? Maybe a laser machine gun which fires off larger bursts than the standard 3? Just something to spice things up a bit.

Yeah, I made something like this in my Minugun mod: a Scatter Laser, which is, well, a laser mingun. :) It's not online yet, because I haven't tested it properly, but I was thinking along the same lines. I can't really gaue its power yet though.

As for the Terror from the Deep units, I think that's a great idea. I was actually playing the Piratez mod an hour ago, and I ran into a terror unit from TFTD, so it seems like it's possible to use them. If nothing else, it shouldn't be that hard to just make a pallet swap of a preexisting race and give it new stats to use as a placeholder until some new aliens pop up, right?

Using TFTD aliens is perfectly viable, but I imagine time-consuming, as they use a different colour palette and a different sprite structure. It's just a matter of effort really. (And we can't have real Lobstermen yet, because we don't have the code to allow an alien having a natural weapon and normal weapons at the same time.)

Making new aliens with changing a palette would be a poor man's solution, and frankly I am opposed to this one... But maybe, as a temporary measure...

In regards to keeping the player from progressing too quickly early on in the game, I'm not totally certain what can be done, other than adding a couple of empty layers towards progression (which has already been suggested). I do agree that something should be done though. The community has put a ton of effort into making new guns, but almost all of them wind up getting tossed by the wayside. I downloaded a bunch of the new guns the other day (submachine gun, machine pistol, magnum, assault rifle, and so on), but I literally had laser pistols by the time I had my first mission, and the lasers were better across the board. By the second mission I had laser rifles, and the only reason to keep using conventional guns was as a self imposed challenge.

If we want to do it the brutal way, then instead of including empty research, why not simply increase the cost of the Laser Weapons tech (and possibly each laser weapon tech too)drastically - say, by 400%? The result would be the same, but it would be much neater.

Offline Falko

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #68 on: April 23, 2014, 08:10:53 pm »
how about this:
instead of including more races change the dependencies to include researched alien-knowledge (e.g. UFO needed for new crafts)
Code: [Select]
  - name: STR_FLOATER_NAVIGATOR
[..]
    getOneFree:
      - STR_ALIEN_RESEARCH
      - STR_ALIEN_HARVEST
      - STR_ALIEN_ABDUCTION
      - STR_ALIEN_INFILTRATION
      - STR_ALIEN_BASE
      - STR_ALIEN_TERROR
      - STR_ALIEN_RETALIATION
      - STR_ALIEN_SUPPLY
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH00
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH01
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH02
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH03
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH04
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH05
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH06
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH07
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH08
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH09
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH00
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH11
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH12
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH13
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH14
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH15
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH16
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH17
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH18
      - STR_EMPTY_NAV_TECH19
in the example there are 20 "empty" techs - now you have to research a lot of navigators and hope you get the right (UFO) knowledge .. each researched empty tech increases the chance to get a useful one
similar to STR_LASER_WEAPONS these empty techs do not need an ufopedia entry
« Last Edit: April 23, 2014, 08:14:30 pm by Falko »

Offline Avalanche

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #69 on: April 23, 2014, 09:34:50 pm »


If we want to do it the brutal way, then instead of including empty research, why not simply increase the cost of the Laser Weapons tech (and possibly each laser weapon tech too)drastically - say, by 400%? The result would be the same, but it would be much neater.

Bumping up the research time by a massive amount would certainly make the game longer, but it might also make things a bit tiresome. The reason that everyone makes a bee line for lasers is because there's just nothing else useful to research in the opening. I have yet to find a single use for the motion scanner, and in the early game medikits are useless because every shot is a kill shot.

I think we can get around this by just making lasers show up a bit later in the game. I've seen some mods that add in different types of ammunition for the conventional guns, so maybe that's the way to go? You start out the game with an "improved ammo" research topic. Maybe an improved chemical propellant which gives a slight damage boost?  Then,  once you find alien alloys, you can do research on "alloy ammunition," and then use that for a while, and then move onto developing lasers once you research a few more alien techs. And then late game, we throw in the weapons that we had talked about earlier.

In a normal game, the evolution of combat goes something like this: basic guns (which get thrown away after the first mission)---->Lasers---->Heavy Plasma.

With these changes though, the game now looks like this: Basic guns (which still probably won't last long)--->Improved bullets---->Alloy bullets--->lasers---->gauss guns----->advanced lasers----->plasma (with gauss, advanced lasers, and plasma all being viable endgame options).

If we do it like this, we slow down the start of the game a bit, but we still allow players to feel like they're making progress, instead of just grinding for lasers.

Offline yrizoud

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #70 on: April 23, 2014, 10:01:34 pm »
I have yet to find a single use for the motion scanner,
It can really make it easier for your entry team if a teammate is hugging a UFO wall (outside) and gives you a reading of what's happening inside. Works even better in late game if you fly on top of a UFO to get a very wide reading. Remember that this gadget is light and resistant : don't hesitate to THROW IT across the battlefield to a soldier who is in a good place to use it.
and in the early game medikits are useless because every shot is a kill shot.
More like 50%-50%, from a plasma pistol shot. Survivors however are almost guaranteed to suffer from fatal wounds.
I usually research either medikit or scanner first, just so my engineers can start building something to earn their wage.
basic guns (which get thrown away after the first mission)
I wonder if we have played the same game... Pistol and Rifle have the best accuracy/time ratio of the entire game, and they stay useful even when strong enemies appear, for accuracy training.

Offline Avalanche

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #71 on: April 24, 2014, 02:21:05 am »
It can really make it easier for your entry team if a teammate is hugging a UFO wall (outside) and gives you a reading of what's happening inside. Works even better in late game if you fly on top of a UFO to get a very wide reading. Remember that this gadget is light and resistant : don't hesitate to THROW IT across the battlefield to a soldier who is in a good place to use it.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually lost a soldier breaching a UFO. As long as you open the door first instead of just rushing in, you'll almost certainly be fine. As for flying over a UFO to throw a scanner on the roof, that might be helpful, but then again, you could always just use a blaster launcher to make your own door and avoid choke points altogether.


More like 50%-50%, from a plasma pistol shot. Survivors however are almost guaranteed to suffer from fatal wounds.


I think you're being pretty generous with 50/50, but even if it's true, it doesn't change a whole lot. In the early game your forces will probably outnuber the aliens on any given mission, so you can probably get by just hunting for the few aliens in hiding to save your wounded men. Besides, rookies are plentiful. While I normally do pick up medikits fairly early on (usually right after I get lasers), they're really not that useful until you start getting some stronger soldiers wearing decent armor.


I usually research either medikit or scanner first, just so my engineers can start building something to earn their wage.

It's true that the empty tech layer which you have to research ahead of laser pistols gives some extra downtime for your engineers, but we're talking what? A week? Less if you pick up some extra scientists as soon as you start the game. And I could be mistaken, but I always thought it was standard operating procedure to mass produce the laser cannons if you're looking to make money (though I think I've heard somewhere that alloys are also a good option), so you're probably going to want to start hitting up lasers soon anyway.

I wonder if we have played the same game... Pistol and Rifle have the best accuracy/time ratio of the entire game, and they stay useful even when strong enemies appear, for accuracy training.

Your best defense of the conventional guns is that they aren't actually useful for killing things. Yeah, you can shoot an alien six times with the rifle. Or, you could use a real gun and shoot it once. Accuracy training always struck me as kind of excessive. Once you get up to around 70, you can reliably hit things with a single autofire (and you get at least 2 with most guns), and one hit is usually all it takes. Maybe 2 if the RNG hates you. Maybe it's useful if you've got a bunch of soldiers who are in the 40% range, but even then, you'd probably just be better off selling them and buying new ones. Even at the very start of the game, you've usually got enough spare cash to scrap your whole team and pick up about 20 more if you need to.

Besides, I always found having to constantly buy ammo to be a pain. Especially in my main base, I am perpetually running out of storage space. Unless I really stock up on ammo at the start of the game, I usually find myself in a situation where I'm unable to buy more due to lack of space.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #72 on: April 24, 2014, 03:29:08 am »
I won't comment on the Motion Scanner and the Medikit, because various people use them differently (or not at all), that's fine and shouldn't be changed.

What matters here and what everybody seems to agree on is that lasers should appear later, that's it. I have a simple idea (already explained in the french mod Pack thread, but only partially) that consists of two elements:
1) Make the Alien Containment researchable, so you can't build it straight away. The research is unlocked by any alien autopsy.
2) Make Laser Weapons unlockable by interrogating an alien - any alien really, except the terror units. If you want, you can make an intermediate (empty) level called Alien Power Systems, which explains why suddenly humans can build working hand lasers.

Offline moriarty

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #73 on: April 24, 2014, 12:18:17 pm »
also, I think the knowledge of how to manufacture alien alloys comes too easily. you simply get some alien stuff, your scientists take a look, and then they are able to replicate it perfectly? I don't think so.

I think that researching alien alloys should allow the use of alien alloys, but perhaps even that should be limited - maybe you recover "alien debris" instead, and have to extract usable pieces of alien alloys in order to make stuff out of it, at a rate of 3-to-1 or something?

only later, after interrogating an engineer or two, should you be able to actually manufacture alien alloys from ordinary raw materials.

about the lasers: I would think it totally believable if you would need alien alloys to research laser technology. perhaps the alloys are needed for lossless reflectors in the amplification chamber, as well as for the capacitors needed for the laser power cells.

another thing that comes to my mind: we could try and split the alien alloy research into several parts. for game-lore purposes, we could make the alien alloys into the holy grail of material sciences: stuff that, depending on the circumstances, can act as a perfect conductor, perfect insulator, super-strong yet lightweight building material, perhaps even as an energy converter (electrical-to-mechanical, heat-to-light, gravity-wave-shaping, whatever). the trick is that you don't discover all properties right away, but in stages. the different properties can then act as principles upon which other technologies are based (new weapons, new armor, etc.).

this way, one of the first properties discovered could lead to "conventional weapon improvements", another to "laser weapon research", and only later discoveries unlock stuff like plasma containment principles and UFO propulsion.

something like this:

[item: Alien Debris] --> (research: Alien Debris)
(research: Alien Debris) --> (discovery: Alien Alloys)
(discovery: Alien Alloys) --> (manufacture: Alien Alloy Salvaging)  | "manufacture: Alien Alloy Salvaging" allows conversion of 3 units Alien Debris to 1 unit Alien Alloys
(discovery: Alien Alloys) --> (research: Alien Alloy Properties)

(research: Alien Alloy Properties) --> (discovery: Super-Strong Materials), (research: Further Alien Alloy Properties)
(discovery: Super-Strong Materials) --> (manufacture: <some advanced human weapons or ammo, armor, craft>)

(research: Further Alien Alloy Properties) --> (discovery: Alien Alloy Electrical Properties), (research: Even More Alien Alloy Properties)
(discovery: Alien Alloy Electrical Properties) --> (research: Advanced Power Systems)

(research: Advanced Power Systems) --> (discovery: Laser Weapons), (manufacture: <some other advanced human craft>)

(research: Even More Alien Alloy Properties) --> (discovery: Alien Alloy Power Conversion), (manufacture: >some other advanced weapons or other>)

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Brainstorming for slower technological progression
« Reply #74 on: April 24, 2014, 06:55:15 pm »
also, I think the knowledge of how to manufacture alien alloys comes too easily. you simply get some alien stuff, your scientists take a look, and then they are able to replicate it perfectly? I don't think so.

Fair point, although I never really produce Alien Alloys anyway. There's just no need to.

about the lasers: I would think it totally believable if you would need alien alloys to research laser technology. perhaps the alloys are needed for lossless reflectors in the amplification chamber, as well as for the capacitors needed for the laser power cells.

I don't think we can make the Alien Alloys responsible for everything; they'd become a "kitchen sink" tech, and that's not right. I do not recall the Alloys to have any particular qualities beyond their durability, flexibility and conductivity. Honestly, I'd prefer a separate tech, even if it was empty.

another thing that comes to my mind: we could try and split the alien alloy research into several parts. for game-lore purposes, we could make the alien alloys into the holy grail of material sciences: stuff that, depending on the circumstances, can act as a perfect conductor, perfect insulator, super-strong yet lightweight building material, perhaps even as an energy converter (electrical-to-mechanical, heat-to-light, gravity-wave-shaping, whatever). the trick is that you don't discover all properties right away, but in stages. the different properties can then act as principles upon which other technologies are based (new weapons, new armor, etc.).

this way, one of the first properties discovered could lead to "conventional weapon improvements", another to "laser weapon research", and only later discoveries unlock stuff like plasma containment principles and UFO propulsion.

something like this:

[item: Alien Debris] --> (research: Alien Debris)
(research: Alien Debris) --> (discovery: Alien Alloys)
(discovery: Alien Alloys) --> (manufacture: Alien Alloy Salvaging)  | "manufacture: Alien Alloy Salvaging" allows conversion of 3 units Alien Debris to 1 unit Alien Alloys
(discovery: Alien Alloys) --> (research: Alien Alloy Properties)

(research: Alien Alloy Properties) --> (discovery: Super-Strong Materials), (research: Further Alien Alloy Properties)
(discovery: Super-Strong Materials) --> (manufacture: <some advanced human weapons or ammo, armor, craft>)

(research: Further Alien Alloy Properties) --> (discovery: Alien Alloy Electrical Properties), (research: Even More Alien Alloy Properties)
(discovery: Alien Alloy Electrical Properties) --> (research: Advanced Power Systems)

(research: Advanced Power Systems) --> (discovery: Laser Weapons), (manufacture: <some other advanced human craft>)

(research: Even More Alien Alloy Properties) --> (discovery: Alien Alloy Power Conversion), (manufacture: >some other advanced weapons or other>)

Hmm, this could work. :) the problem is that it would need coding, because either Alien Alloys are what you get from the UFO or they aren't. Unless someone like Falko has another ingenious idea how to go about it. :) We could of course force the player to make Alien Alloys from Alien Debris before they can be used for construction, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not.