Author Topic: exponential difficulty  (Read 4891 times)

Offline Ran

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exponential difficulty
« on: June 04, 2014, 01:53:53 am »
What has always bothered me in the game is that you can can basically keep it going forever, as aliens pose no real threat once you reach a certain level. You learn that you are "fighting a losing battle on earth" but in fact aliens are barely able to complete a single mission in the later months if you do your job right.

So while not as standard, I'd like to see an option of continuously increasing alien activity once you have played for a certain time. Either you make it to mars by then or you are going to lose. 8)

Offline CoolKid

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2014, 03:39:39 am »
I completely agree with your idea "make aliens stronger overtime". Make it very very frustrating in late game that force you to attack mars ASAP. Maybe increasing alien stats at certain point or make aliens carrying blaster launcher more and more and make battleship stronger overtime.

Because there's 5 things that make XCom invincible in late game. it is:

1. Money. basically infinite money in late game if you played it right.
2. Elerium. You will get infinite stock of elerium because you can farm UFO really really easy.
3. Invincible base defense. if you already installed many defense weapon in your base.
4. Psionic. Because it's overpowered.
5. Blaster launcher. Because it's overpowered.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2014, 04:27:30 am »
100% right, CoolKid. Maybe except Elerium, with some mods. And I use the "line of sight psionics only" setting, which makes things much more reasonable.

The easiest and most brutal way of making things progressively harder would be bigger, meaner UFOs who are hard to take down even with four Avengers armed to the teeth.
However, it would be very... unsubtle.

Offline Mr. Quiet

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2014, 05:08:32 am »
100% right, CoolKid. Maybe except Elerium, with some mods. And I use the "line of sight psionics only" setting, which makes things much more reasonable.

The easiest and most brutal way of making things progressively harder would be bigger, meaner UFOs who are hard to take down even with four Avengers armed to the teeth.
However, it would be very... unsubtle.

I like the big badder UFO idea. A UFO filled with elite troopers. Don't forget to add a cool looking Command bridge like one you'd see in a Scifi Movie. Solarius, you know how to make UFOs now. Make us proud!!

Offline yrizoud

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2014, 11:42:26 am »
Landed UFOs still are sitting ducks, and (as I read somewhere) they're all you need to get the prerequisite to win the game.
An added difficulty would be that landed UFOs can shoot at you while you approach : You'd get the standard interception minigame. You can stay at fighting range until the target UFO is put out of fighting condition (it becomes a crash mission), or rush through a barrage of fire till you can drop your soldiers. Or retreat because you're getting so damaged you don't think you can make it.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2014, 03:06:47 pm »
I like the big badder UFO idea. A UFO filled with elite troopers. Don't forget to add a cool looking Command bridge like one you'd see in a Scifi Movie. Solarius, you know how to make UFOs now. Make us proud!!

I can't add new MCDs yet. :) And I think adding such UFOs would require a bit of coding, since they would only appear from a certain (distant) point in time onwards. UFOs don't work like this.

Landed UFOs still are sitting ducks, and (as I read somewhere) they're all you need to get the prerequisite to win the game.
An added difficulty would be that landed UFOs can shoot at you while you approach : You'd get the standard interception minigame. You can stay at fighting range until the target UFO is put out of fighting condition (it becomes a crash mission), or rush through a barrage of fire till you can drop your soldiers. Or retreat because you're getting so damaged you don't think you can make it.

+1!

Offline Falko

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2014, 06:47:29 pm »
1. Money. basically infinite money in late game if you played it right.
-make a mod that reduces the sellprice of all alienmade "hardware" by at least 2/3
-you have to build alloys
-triple all manufacture requirements
2. Elerium. You will get infinite stock of elerium because you can farm UFO really really easy.
-make plasma beam eat elerium
-do not use plasma rifles/ammunition directly but reproduce them
3. Invincible base defense. if you already installed many defense weapon in your base.
-increase price/time for building
-increase runing costs
-increase space defense is (2x2, need new maps?,reuse hangar?)
4. Psionic. Because it's overpowered.
- LOS option?
- do not use?
- set soldier strength max value to 50
5. Blaster launcher. Because it's overpowered.
-do not use (add requirement: STR_ALIEN_ONLY?)

you can fix it if you want

Offline CoolKid

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2014, 07:12:31 pm »
1. Money. basically infinite money in late game if you played it right.
-make a mod that reduces the sellprice of all alienmade "hardware" by at least 2/3
-you have to build alloys
-triple all manufacture requirements
2. Elerium. You will get infinite stock of elerium because you can farm UFO really really easy.
-make plasma beam eat elerium
-do not use plasma rifles/ammunition directly but reproduce them
3. Invincible base defense. if you already installed many defense weapon in your base.
-increase price/time for building
-increase runing costs
-increase space defense is (2x2, need new maps?,reuse hangar?)
4. Psionic. Because it's overpowered.
- LOS option?
- do not use?
- set soldier strength max value to 50
5. Blaster launcher. Because it's overpowered.
-do not use (add requirement: STR_ALIEN_ONLY?)

you can fix it if you want


Of course we can do that. We can do anything to make the game harder for example: "Limited soldier use" or "Dont use anyhing that involving elerium". But most of those are basically handicap and I hate make game harder with using handicap (Except we are doing "Challenge run" :) ). We are totally okay with those 5 overpowered things. The point is "we are fighting a losing battle on earth" so we only need making alien stronger overtime by raising their stats that make them harder and harder to get mindcontroled. And wear them a deadly weapon (like blaster launcher) more and more overtime. Also the UFO need to be make stronger overtime by increasing their numbers, HP, Speed, and firing range. So we can't keep playing forever and we must attack mars ASAP.

We need more EPIC FIGHTS! 8)
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 07:15:09 pm by CoolKid »

Offline Ran

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2014, 03:31:59 am »
I don't see a trivial fix. :(
Personally I don't see why aliens themselves should get stronger over time but UFO activity should simply increase to a level that cannot be dealt with anymore. Once the invasion has gained momentum you will indeed be fighting a losing battle and even your proud Avenger fleet will simply be swept away.
That's the gameplay I'd like to experience. The beginning is very tough but as you learn about the alien technology everything gets a lot easier. You feel confident you have the situation under control and relax - until the aliens step up their efforts and the tide turns.

Falko has a good point, but this would require to completely re-balance the game. Surely an interesting project as a mod but lots of work.
Slowing down research, making everything more expensive, many items non-manufacturable or only being able to build crude imitations which are heavier, weaker and less accurate would be an option. I never liked that you could build weapons and crafts which are even better than the original alien technology. The Piratez-Mod has pretty much of this.

A simpler approach which retains the original game:
You can do my favorite trick and increase difficulty to 10 or more, this will make aliens and UFOs pretty tough, but of course this will apply from the start and make the first months reeeally hard.
Better yet would be to manually increase difficulty in your savegames from month to month, this would give some of the desired effect. Would like to see that as an option. Try it out, I had lots of fun playing at 2-digit difficulty levels.
But then again I am just insane as Solarius already stated...  ;D

« Last Edit: June 05, 2014, 03:43:01 am by Ran »

Offline CoolKid

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2014, 04:43:35 am »
You can do my favorite trick and increase difficulty to 10 or more, this will make aliens and UFOs pretty tough, but of course this will apply from the start and make the first months reeeally hard.
Better yet would be to manually increase difficulty in your savegames from month to month, this would give some of the desired effect. Would like to see that as an option. Try it out, I had lots of fun playing at 2-digit difficulty levels.
But then again I am just insane as Solarius already stated...  ;D

Interesting! I want to see that as an option as well. :)
Just one question: What the limits of difficulty i can raise in my save file?

Offline Gifty

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2014, 05:44:25 am »
I think CoolKid is right that increased difficulty should come from tougher aliens, not a weaker player. Unfortunately this makes finding a solution much more complicated. :P

TFTD had a UFO class above battleship, didn't it? Maybe that would be a good place to start.

Offline Jstank

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2014, 08:20:17 am »
Like you said there make the ruleset for winning so that you have to have a sectoid, floater, Muton AND Ethereal commander to gain access to the final mission. That would force you to go clean out an etheral base and capture an etheral commander.

Offline Aldorn

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2014, 10:34:23 am »
A way I use to make game more difficult :
- increase producing/buying costs (x2) and decrease selling cost (/5), dramatically increase needed raw materials for improved technologies
- increase facilities cost, soldiers, ... and decrease facilities capacities
- increase soldiers and aliens Hit Points (x2) so that aliens are more harder to kill and xcom too, with disadvantage for X-Com side that soldiers will often be wounded twice heavier
- change technology tree to make it longer, harder, ... (have a look at Solarius's WIP Final Mod Pack)
- dramatically increase number of aliens inside UFOs and alien bases, so that it's more difficult to successfully complete a mission (disable "Aggressive retaliation" option)
However, game will have to be balanced

I think some of ideas above might help you to make game more and more difficult as time goes by (perhaps you will have to increase starting conditions)

Offline TheUnruly

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2014, 12:11:30 pm »
As I see it the problem with the endgame isn't the hit point count of units or the fact that humans have alien tech; it's that they have better alien tech.  One example is the plasma beam outclassing all but one of the alien ship weapons.

It makes very little sense, strips the interception game of risk lowering difficulty overall as ships are rarely out of action and makes every other weapon obsolete - even the higher teir ones.

Why are ethereals mind controllable at all? They have a way bigger brain than humans and use their powers for everything from moving to controlling armies but a human with a months crash course in psionics can just take over their mind? bumping their psy resistance to impossible to beat levels would make the game far harder once you start seeing them every other mission.

Resource wise give less than 50 elerium per engine and hit the player in the wallet - make selling prices lower and increase resource costs of manufacture.

That leaves the blaster bomb.  I think the aliens bring too many bombs with them and the cost for making your own is far too low. I'm not convinced there is an issue with it as an occasional weapon.

However when making these changes I've found the alien invasion scales a little fast for my liking compared to the players abilities and I can't find a balance I enjoy.
What does change things without leaving you in trouble is stripping the plama beam from its seat as the holy grail and increasing the utility of the other ship weapons.  I'll attach an example - it's far from perfect but it gives you the idea, small changes can affect the game a lot.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: exponential difficulty
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2014, 02:50:00 pm »
Better yet would be to manually increase difficulty in your savegames from month to month, this would give some of the desired effect. Would like to see that as an option. Try it out, I had lots of fun playing at 2-digit difficulty levels.
But then again I am just insane as Solarius already stated...  ;D

*avoids eye contact* +1! I like this idea. As an option of course. (Sounds trivial to code, we'd just have to design it somehow; for example increase by 1 every 3 months.)

TFTD had a UFO class above battleship, didn't it? Maybe that would be a good place to start.

I don't think there was such a ship (except for T'leth, haha), but I can't see any problems with making such a shipo and adding it to the game. However, what exactly would it do? What missions would this super-sized ship be in? Would it share missions with the Battleship? (In the latter case, some coding is required, since the Battleship is hard-coded to be used in base assaults and country takeovers.)

Like you said there make the ruleset for winning so that you have to have a sectoid, floater, Muton AND Ethereal commander to gain access to the final mission. That would force you to go clean out an etheral base and capture an etheral commander.

While Ethereals are nasty, I don't think it would make the game that much harder. Unless we're speaking of those "speedrun" campaigns, where the player aims to land in Cydonia in March. :P


As I see it the problem with the endgame isn't the hit point count of units or the fact that humans have alien tech; it's that they have better alien tech.  One example is the plasma beam outclassing all but one of the alien ship weapons.

It makes very little sense, strips the interception game of risk lowering difficulty overall as ships are rarely out of action and makes every other weapon obsolete - even the higher teir ones.

So true.
However, using the Plasma Beam Mod or something similar makes the choice much less obvious, sionce you're constantly out of Elerium to power the plasma cannons (except the late game, but even then it's still a factor in your economy).

Why are ethereals mind controllable at all? They have a way bigger brain than humans and use their powers for everything from moving to controlling armies but a human with a months crash course in psionics can just take over their mind? bumping their psy resistance to impossible to beat levels would make the game far harder once you start seeing them every other mission.

Sure, you can do it. I don't think they should be perfectly immune, (for gameplay reasons, though I can come up with some explanations - for example their bodies rely on psionics so much they are easily disrupted by psionics), but they do seem too weak.
BTW, Dioxine decreased soldiers' Psi Strength in his Piratez mod to diminish the Psionics... It changed very little though, the best psi-ops still own their enemies. :P

That leaves the blaster bomb.  I think the aliens bring too many bombs with them and the cost for making your own is far too low. I'm not convinced there is an issue with it as an occasional weapon.

I think it would be much better if the aliens actually used these bombs. Compared to the original game, aliens are very reluctant to fire Blaster Launchers. I find myself using far cheekier tactics in Battleship missions than I used to, since I don't feel threatened much...

However when making these changes I've found the alien invasion scales a little fast for my liking compared to the players abilities and I can't find a balance I enjoy.
What does change things without leaving you in trouble is stripping the plama beam from its seat as the holy grail and increasing the utility of the other ship weapons.  I'll attach an example - it's far from perfect but it gives you the idea, small changes can affect the game a lot.

Can you please summarize the changes, for example in a simple comparison table? I'm a lazy person. :P