Author Topic: How would YOU handle creating a X-COM where you are the aliens?(What if)  (Read 10220 times)

Offline Taberone

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By this, I mean game mechanics for if you were to ever create something like this..  I might not be able to communicate my point properly. This is the only way I know how to describe it.


What would you do to limit players from spamming Terror Missions/Alien Infiltration missions? How would you handle the enemy AI? Would it play fair? Would the Council actually be intelligent, reasonable human beings who don't underfund XCOM? Would XCOM be the only force capable of killing your forces, and not local militia or the armed forces? Would the enemy AI be able to handle having inferior weaponry? Would it be able to do tactics like throwing a smoke grenade on the skyranger ramp, camping a ufo untill turn 20, or using rookies as disposable meatshields? What would keep it from being too EASY, other than making the AI cheat? How would the AI start out weak and puny, but eventually defeat you(and have it believable?) How would the AI controlled XCOM deal with your PSI Spamming in the later months? Chryssalids? Would it always fight to the death, or sometimes try to abort? What about base layouts for if you attack XCOM's base?          Problems like these.

Discuss potential problems and possible solutions if you were to ever create a X-COM game/modification of OpenXCOM where you are the aliens, and anything else.

Online Solarius Scorch

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What would you do to limit players from spamming Terror Missions/Alien Infiltration missions?

Probably the same as many limitations in games: missions require resources, and resources are scarce. You only have a puny Martian base at your disposal, nothing impressive really. You must at least maintain your continuous presence on Earth - otherwise your meticulously woven web of intrigue (agents, lobbyists, Men in Black, half-human hybrids etc.) will collapse, and your invasion will be over... Or at least stalled by a few decades.

How would you handle the enemy AI? Would it play fair?

Of course! Every AI should play fair! :)

Would the Council actually be intelligent, reasonable human beings who don't underfund XCOM?

I would prefer to make things appear exactly like in the original game, though I can't explain much at this point. Anyway, the truth is that you're not as much as an invader as you would like; you must gain power by diplomacy. Humans may be underdeveloped in comparison, but you're completely outnumbered. You basically have to play Hernan Cortez.

Would XCOM be the only force capable of killing your forces, and not local militia or the armed forces?

I would like to see the armies of the world to terrori- ehm, to fight. Or just small platoons really, since you wouldn't want to fight real tanks and high-altitude bombers anyway. These soldiers you fight would be around Squaddie level, but their weaponry would be of lower quality (X-Com gets the best the earth has to offer, while normal guys get normal stuff - Kalashnikovs, M-16s and the like). The difference between then and X-Com would at first be HWPs and a bit better stats on average, though over time they would get much better weapons and armour (not to mention psionics; most of your species are very weak to psionics).

Would the enemy AI be able to handle having inferior weaponry?

Yes, if it's sufficiently numerous. :P

Would it be able to do tactics like throwing a smoke grenade on the skyranger ramp, camping a ufo untill turn 20, or using rookies as disposable meatshields?

That's hardly for me to say, but I can't see why not, provided it's done seriously.

What would keep it from being too EASY, other than making the AI cheat? How would the AI start out weak and puny, but eventually defeat you(and have it believable?) How would the AI controlled XCOM deal with your PSI Spamming in the later months?

These questions are crucial in any game design, and are resolved over long periods of time, spent on coming up with ideas, heated discussions and throwing objects at each other. :) In other words, I have no idea right now; we'd have to think on this hard. But I think the current progress mechanics (for aliens) isn't terrible.

Chryssalids? Would it always fight to the death, or sometimes try to abort?

Terror units probably wouldn't be able to abort a mission, nor start it without at least one individual from their master race. Same as X-Com tanks really.

What about base layouts for if you attack XCOM's base?

Probably random, but must feature all buildings that should be there.

This is fun! 8)

Offline Taberone

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What about if the humans could abort missions? Know when to fold them?

Online Solarius Scorch

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What about if the humans could abort missions? Know when to fold them?

I think it'd be possible. And cool, though I don't know how exactly it'd look like...

Offline Warboy1982

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i wouldn't set it in the Sol system for starters, we're not invading earth, we're fighting a galactic war for the survival of life as we know it, Earth is merely one campaign..

put yourself in the alien mindset.

who are we?
the way i see it, the aliens are an alliance of various galactic powers working together.

why are we allied with each other?
i suggest a common threat, something that affects everyone equally. look at mass effect for a clear cut example of this: once the galaxy accepts the existence of the Reapers, small conflicts cease. differences are set aside to focus on a common foe, one that threatens everyone equally.

what are we doing?
the aliens are here to conquer Earth, but to what end? Earth is merely one of many battles being fought for control of precious resources. resources the alien alliance NEEDS to fight the much larger war.

it could even be inferred that the aliens are here to save us from a danger beyond our comprehension, and communications broke down somewhere along the line.

Offline Mr. Quiet

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What Warboy said.

I don't play or watch Sci-fi stuff, but I always thought of the Aliens you encounter in X-COM as some Galactic Federation if the bad (probably Marxists) aliens united the galaxies together by force and the top of the food chain just indiscriminately enslaves and oppresses everything.

I look toward the poor floaters and how they're forced to have a metallic device as the bottom half of there body. Poor fellows. I really feel sad for those floaters and I would think they'd be the first to revolt against this Galactic Empire. Snakemen look like they enjoy what they do, but I'm sure they also had something done to them. Removed there fangs and ability to create poison. Modernized them for infantry warfare. Sectoids are Clone creations so they might have no individual thought and live to serve.

Offline Ran

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Marxist aliens - I bet it was them who sent Lenin to Russia in 1917, it was an infiltration mission! ;D

Besides that, It would be really fun to have a reverse XCOM game. Same style but you play the aliens.
There are of course several difficulties.
.)What are you supposed to research when you already have the alien technology?
Learning about the detailed anatomy of humans and cows isn't really that exciting ???

.)Generally, what do you do on your missions?
Abducting or terrorizing defenseless creatures seems fun in the beginning but gets pretty lame soon. Maybe you'd just set the course for your UFO, it will start, land and return while battlescape only comes into play if you run into trouble with XCOM or other armed factions.

.) How is funding going to work? Do the aliens have money if they are Marxists?
Will items gathered from XCOM be worth anything? Who will buy this primitive stuff?

.) Will you have a base on earth or will UFOs come directly from Mars?
Will you have individual aliens which can improve their stats or just indistinguishable clone masses which will be replaced after each mission?

Indeed more questions than answers, I still hope we will be able to play the aliens someday.

Offline Taberone

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Marxist aliens - I bet it was them who sent Lenin to Russia in 1917, it was an infiltration mission! ;D

Besides that, It would be really fun to have a reverse XCOM game. Same style but you play the aliens.
There are of course several difficulties.
.)What are you supposed to research when you already have the alien technology?
Learning about the detailed anatomy of humans and cows isn't really that exciting ???

.)Generally, what do you do on your missions?
Abducting or terrorizing defenseless creatures seems fun in the beginning but gets pretty lame soon. Maybe you'd just set the course for your UFO, it will start, land and return while battlescape only comes into play if you run into trouble with XCOM or other armed factions.

.) How is funding going to work? Do the aliens have money if they are Marxists?
Will items gathered from XCOM be worth anything? Who will buy this primitive stuff?

.) Will you have a base on earth or will UFOs come directly from Mars?
Will you have individual aliens which can improve their stats or just indistinguishable clone masses which will be replaced after each mission?

Indeed more questions than answers, I still hope we will be able to play the aliens someday.
Good point.

Offline alienfood

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Aliens are obviously researching something because they dissect cows and abduct humans. The alien "progression" will also have a heavily political track as you gradually subvert governments. X-COM is unsubvertible and remains your implacable enemy, so you have a purely military track against them. The urgency is to achieve your political objectives before X-COM develops alien tech enough to defeat you.

Offline ReCurse

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It seems there are a lot of assumptions from X-COM side of view.
But imo a lot of concepts could just be turned around...

What if the aliens (as a galactic empire) have to get their funds from some kind of government as well? As invading earth is probably just one of many invasions, it may be stopped if the council is not pleased with the economic and martial results. Now i´m probably still missing a link there, but something like that could be measured in the overall fear/desperation of humans (like X-COM rating, only not country specific), caused through alien missions. So there you have the score system for funding.
(Well terror missions would be kinda nasty, as your goal would be to kill as many civilians as you can, as X-COM is already present. Maybe even with tanks etc...)

For research on the other hand, it might be handy to assume the aliens are not *that* advanced from the beginning, so you´d start with sectoids and plasma pistols and have to research how to aquire other species (its mostly genetic engineering anyway). It might just be that you need lots of certain materials you´d only find in cows or humans... Also as we could see from X-COM side already, better UFOs and weapons need to be researched as well. Or UFOs only being built or granted by the council, which may take large amounts of whatsoever to collect/earn...

Cloning aliens costs ressources as well as building weapons, as well as constructing bases. Which may harvest ressources, they´re not just there to look pretty i´d guess.

So in the end we´d just need to discover logical reasons on why are the aliens doing what they´re doing, instead of just invading earth with 10 battle ships on first day. They´re pretty sure not doing any of that just for their entertainment...
On the other hand, some concepts might need to be adapted. For example, X-COM does lots of patrolling flights around earth you may encounter or want to shoot down. Also maybe better weapons than just laser and what they can get from you if you loose a mission.
And i´d suggest for difficulty reasons, when starting a game as aliens, X-COM more or less has control of the whole planet at start and multiple bases.

Offline Align

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I guess I'd just flip the viewpoint initially and elaborate & alter things from there;

-You send missions via the Geoscape (modified to look suitable for the alien perspective). Each mission requires a set of ships, determined by mission type, but you can exceed the requirements if you want something heavier than a small scout for your Research missions.
--Ships require various materials to build, personnel to man.
---Materials are produced in factories on Mars which require materials to build, personnel to man.
---You start with a modest reserve of these.
---Personnel require organic matter to clone more - optionally using genetic data for better results.
----Get organic matter from Harvest, Abduction missions.
----Get genetic data from Research, Harvest, Abduction missions.
----Get both in regular shipments from Alien Bases.

-After a successful mission, ships return to Mars after a week or so, ready to reuse. So you want to avoid getting shot down.
--XCOM launches interceptions from their bases, but you can't see them until you're in a dogfight.
---Ships that are shot down inevitably face an assault by XCOM - and they may also assault a ship while it's landed for a mission.
----If the XCOM assault isn't fought off, you lose all you invested in that ship.
----If it is fought off, you can just proceed with the mission, or if the ship was shot down, it'll be (automatically) recovered after a time, returning some materials and any surviving personnel.
--XCOM bases are similarly invisible unless you find their placement via Research, Infiltration, Retaliation missions.

-Unsuccessful missions (or just being inactive) will make the funding nations think XCOM is working, increasing their funding and etc, the upshot being that their score goes up and they'll be more difficult in the future. This is a bit of a slippery slope though, might not be a good game mechanic.

-Research missions gather intel on the target nation (persons of interest etc) and genetic data - cheap and modestly effective (requires a small scout)
--As mentioned, it's possible to use more or better ships than the requirements.
-Harvest missions gather more genetic data and organic matter (requires medium scout + harvester)
-Abduction missions gather a lot of intel (mind probing and such), but less genetic data and organic matter (medium scout + abductor)
--Harvesters and Abductors are poorly armed and as such not generally worth sending on missions outside their speciality.
-Terror missions reduce XCOM's score a lot (medium scout + large scout + terror ship)
-Infiltration missions require intel on the target nation before they can be undertaken, but result in XCOM's score going down a lot and you get a free base! (large scout + supply ship + battleship)
--If it fails, you have to get the intel all over again.
-Alien Base missions create Alien Bases. Natch. (large scout + supply ship + supply ship)
--Bases "generate" organic matter and genetic data continuously, but may be assaulted just like your ships.
-Retaliation missions are used to take out XCOM bases for good. Get all of them to win the game. (large scout + terror ship + battleship)

-XCOM's score determines how many bases they have. Though this too is rather slippery slopery...
--Losing a base reduces their score proportionally.

-XCOM's tech level on the other hand isn't dependent on their success in the fight against you, and increases regardless.
--Better win fast or make sure you're up to facing teamfuls of flying psionics with blaster launchers!

-If both their tech level and score are above a certain point, Cydonia itself gets assaulted. For them it's not an all-or-nothing though, they can just keep attacking.



Huh, this got rather long... I guess I just like the idea.
Geoscape would have new buttons like so.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 08:36:23 pm by Align »

Offline Align

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In the base view (MARS button) you construct facilities, clone troops, manufacture equipment. Ideally, you'd have unlimited space.
You *cannot* do anything with Alien Bases on Earth, they just automatically produce stuff and send it to Mars.

Facilities:
-Alien Hangar - holds ships, natch.
--Need an empty one to build a new ship.
--Reserved during missions until ship returns or is lost.
--Start with 3, one empty, the other two containing a small and a medium scout.

-Crystallization Chambers - produce Elerium continuously when manned.
--Better personnel improve production speed.

-Alloy Factory - produces Alien Alloys continuously when manned.
--ditto

-Alien Workshop - where you manufacture stuff. Grenades, UFO Power Sources, ships...
--The cost for better stuff rises exponentially, so while you can make battleships and heavy plasmas straight away the cost is prohibitive; you'll want a solid industrial base first.

-Cloning Vats - used to create more aliens from organic matter.
--Genetic data needed to make anything better than Sectoid Soldiers
--Aliens also require other resources according to type (ex. Floaters need a bit of Alloys+Elerium, Cyberdiscs a lot, Ethereals just tons of genetic data)

-Alien Quarters - food, sleeping pods, alien entertainment... you name it, they've got it! Needed to house aliens.

-Alien Stores - holds materials, equipment, etc.

-Hyperwave Communications - for each one of these, you can have an additional mission in progress.


-Equip ships and aliens much like XCOM does.
-"Research" button/screen is replaced with "Workers", where you decide who goes where in the chambers/factories.
-"Purchase/Hire" replaced with "Cloning".
-"Sell/Sack" replaced with "Recycle". Fortunately, aliens are 100% loyal and won't hesitate in following orders even here.

Offline Qpoter

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-Cloning Vats - used to create more aliens from organic matter.
--Genetic data needed to make anything better than Sectoid Soldiers
--Aliens also require other resources according to type (ex. Floaters need a bit of Alloys+Elerium, Cyberdiscs a lot, Ethereals just tons of genetic data)

Ethereals are kind of the masterminds behind the invasion, they wouldn't be cloned.

Online Solarius Scorch

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Ethereals are kind of the masterminds behind the invasion, they wouldn't be cloned.

I wonder if they have sex then. :)

(Actually, I probably think about this too much.)

Offline Warboy1982

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Ethereals are kind of the masterminds behind the invasion, they wouldn't be cloned.

ethereals are the officer-class clones. not even the brain is the mastermind, it's just the centralized point for the local invasion fleet's psychic communication.

to put it in IT terms: the brain is the server, the ethereals are the administrators, the sectoids are the terminals.
you can shut down the server, the administrators will be locked out, and the terminals will lose network connectivity. the parent company still exists and so do the off-site backups.