Author Topic: The X-Com Files (FMP+)  (Read 33156 times)

Offline Solarius Scorch

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The X-Com Files (FMP+)
« on: September 21, 2014, 02:27:54 pm »
This thread is (for now) a developer notes thing, meant for the presentation and possibly consultation of a future project that I'm thinking of.



I am currently the sole developer of the Final Mod Pack, a project meant to include as much community content as possible while maintaining everything vanilla as it was (with small exceptions). I am also planning on discontinuing the project in the near future, most likely after TFTD comes out.
Now, I certainly have not gotten bored with the FMP or anything like that. Actually, it's quite the opposite: it has reached a stage where it's become too constricting for many of my ideas. The FMP is meant to preserve the vanilla feel in most regards, and I would like to do some more radical changes to the game; make it longer, bigger and more intricate, but not tedious. And this can only be done by changing a game's general design, otherwise you can only add so much new content before it turns into a pile of random crap. Besides, this project will likely require additions to the code, which is something I wouldn't accept in the FMP.

TL;DR: I am going to increase the scope of the game to make room for more factions, research, fluff and items, but primarily to present a richer storyline (but without any railroading). Details below.



WHAT WILL THIS FMP+ BE?

In short, it moves the game time back into late 90's, before any serious invasion begins, but when some alien-related activities are already underway: strange happenings, secret cults, UFO sightings. This early X-Com is not a military organization yet, just a secret organization (under)funded by the UN to investigate events that may be related to aliens; basically, global X-Files. As the game progresses, X-Com gradually becomes what we know from the vanilla game and the playstyle changes according to research, time flow and special event triggers.

The general flow of the campaign is planned to look like this:

Phase 1: The Agency
X-Com agents do not have access to actual military equipment, because they're more detectives than soldiers. Their objectives are to react to phenomena around the world, investigate and subdue any resistance.
Their enemies are mostly cultists (as of now, 4 different factions with varied types of connections to the aliens), the hybrids, later Men in Black (which would be extremely powerful in comparison at this stage) and if you're (un)lucky, an occasional Sectoid.
Equipment? No military guns (except what you capture from the enemies, who mostly aren't very well-equipped either), no tanks, no uniforms (formal suits FTW). No access to radars (but there will be a Command Centre, which will act like a very crappy radar with global coverage via gathering reports), no fighters. The X-Com agency gains access to one VTOL vehicle, which is essentially a smaller and much slower (500 knots?) version of the Skyranger, and may also buy helicopters which are even poorer in stats. (I thought about ground vehicles too, but haven't found a reliable way of adding them - maybe via a transport craft which in itself isn't fit for landing near an investigation site?) Better build more bases ASAP, because those cultists on the other side of the world won't wait on you. Oh, and you can only build surface bases (see below).

Phase 2: The UFO Defence
This stage is pretty much the starting point of the vanilla game. Advancing to this stage requires completing a number of research projects which essentially serve to expose the entirety of the threat to the UN to convince them to give you more privileges, like authorisation to officially use military equipment. Of course, the transition is smooth: the point of getting these privileges may come before or after such things like developing the Skyranger design or getting access to actual underground bases.

Phase 3: ?
There are many possibilities of what to do with the X-Com project after conquering Cydonia, and all of the remain pure fantasies at this point. Travelling a galaxy map to explore and fight on various planets of the alien empire? Preparing for a second wave of the attack, now more serious? Some transition to TFTD (assuming a hybrid game would not be possible)? This phase is here just for show, really; I don't have any concrete plans.



WHAT CODE CHANGES ARE REQUIRED?

First off, I am not a coder, and will be unable to code this myself (until I learn C++ in record time). But many of the required changes were already proposed or even committed though, so I think it's realistic to hope for them to happen. If they don't make it to the main code, it should be easy for most programmers on this forum to include them in a branch (like OpenXCom Extended, which is a very promising project). And those that haven't been coded by anyone yet, they look fairly easy to do to my layman eye, if a kind soul agrees to actually do it.

1. Geoscape events.
By this I mean events that are generated on the Geoscape and are not UFOs, like the Alien Terror mission. They may or may not be automatically shown to the player, I think we'll need both cases. This will almost certainly be included in the code, since TFTD requires this; let's just hope it won't be hard-coded. And OpenXCom Extended reportedly has it already to some degree.

2. Missions unlockable at a certain time, or after a special event.
Right now, if you code a mission into the game, it'll become possible from month 1. This is no good, since I don't want to see many alien missions before the invasion develops! Fortunately, the code that makes this possible is already written, just not included in the main branch.
If it's possible, we could also make some missions triggerable by some special event on the players' part, for example disabling Alien Retaliation until the local cult is destroyed or seriously crippled. This would require much more work though, and I do not consider it critical at this point.

3. Killing off one faction, or making mission chances dependant on time or special event.
At the beginning, you'll be fighting several human factions, with little to no aliens. But once the alien war starts for real, I would like these faction to completely or mostly fade into background, since they probably won't be much of a threat anymore. Therefore I want these factions (well, races in game terms) to be completely destroyed if you manage to research and complete a "Cult HQ or Bust" mission, or at least make them less active over time (so that cult missions appear less often). I am not aware of any piece of code that does either of these two.

4. Surface bases.
Complex, expensive underground bases would be unsuitable for a mostly civilian organization like an early X-Com. A surface base works similarly, but it is composed of normal buildings on an open ground. Such a base is much cheaper to build and maintain, but also hard to defend, since the aliens spawn everywhere, and some facilities can't be built there.
I am not aware of such code, but I don't think it'd be too complex - just add a second base type to choose, and enable underground bases to be researched/unlocked by something else. And making the new graphics would be necessary, but this isn't a problem - there are many resources we can use, and more can be produced.
An additional idea is to enable a two-stage base defense for underground bases, where at first you can fight the aliens on the ground. The aliens will try to get to the buildings which lead below the earth (above the hangars and the lift), and you would get a chance to stop them there, but fighting such a battle would be harder. Any alien that reaches the exit point is removed from the mission and will be spawned in the underground base defence part; the same goes for your own units. This idea is just a fantasy though, since it'd be hard to code and a hell to balance properly.

5. More bases, region-dependant bases.
While I think 8 bases are more than enough for the vanilla game, perhaps it won't be enough for the FMP+. I am not sure about this, but I'll include this condition to remain on the safe side.
Perhaps base slots would be unlockable by research, to represent growing political influence?
Perhaps each slot/some slots can be assigned to a country/region, to represent political arrangements within the UN?

6. Race-dependant loadouts (alienDeployments).
It's already a problem in the current version of the FMP: any race that attacks your base has the same equipment (plasmas etc.), because equipment is assigned by mission, not by race. This means that you can't make a faction that uses different equipment. It's the same problem with terror missions and pretty much any other mission, for example every UFO has the same crew and the same armoury. This makes things especially problematic for this project, since I want human factions to be able to do standard missions (like X-Com base assault), and not giving them plasmas. I am not aware of such code and this is probably the most complex change of all ideas here (excluding those which are explicitly marked as just fantasies).

7. Un-hardcoding UFO types from certain missions.
Right now, only Battleships can make base assaults, and only Terror Ships can terrorize the population. Since I want human factions to do both of these, we would have to be able to define this by ruleset. (And it would be nice to have in the normal game too.) I don't know if anyone has done this.

8. Separating item access in the shop from item usability.
Last but not least, there is the problem with the store: the only way to remove an item from the store is to give it a "requires:" flag, which makes it dependant on a particular research. Unfortunately, this means that this item will appear to you as an Alien Artifact and you won't be able to use it on the battlefield - if you can't buy a rifle, you can't use a rifle! This would have to be separated somehow, probably by adding a new flag for the items that are usable, but not buyable at the moment. (Of course it only applies to items that are supposed to be buyable later; there's no problem with items that simply can't be bought at all, like for example the Laser Rifle.)



Now, this wall quite a bit of text, so thanks for reaching this point. :) If you have any comments, please go ahead and let me know.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2020, 07:36:19 pm by Solarius Scorch »

Offline ivandogovich

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2014, 03:47:22 pm »
Awesome!  I love the vision here. Sounds really interesting, and it is beautifully explained. :)

Comment:
Quote
6. Race-dependant loadouts (alienDeployments).
It's already a problem in the current version of the FMP: any race that attacks your base has the same equipment (plasmas etc.), because equipment is assigned by mission, not by race. This means that you can't make a faction that uses different equipment. It's the same problem with terror missions and pretty much any other mission, for example every UFO has the same crew and the same armoury. This makes things especially problematic for this project, since I want human factions to be able to do standard missions (like X-Com base assault), and not giving them plasmas. I am not aware of such code and this is probably the most complex change of all ideas here (excluding those which are explicitly marked as just fantasies).

Couldn't you do this now by making race specific missions? Or can any mission be done by any race?  what I'm thinking, is that STR_SNAKEMAN_TERROR would be set with the raceWeights attribute so that only they could use it.  Same for your cult mission.  STR_CULT1_POLITICAL_RALLY is weighted to only Cult One, etc.

Cheers, Ivan :D

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2014, 03:52:36 pm »
Awesome!  I love the vision here. Sounds really interesting, and it is beautifully explained. :)

Thank you :)

Couldn't you do this now by making race specific missions? Or can any mission be done by any race?

There can be race-specific missions, but each mission would have to be separate for the race. Right now, Terror and Base Assault are hardcoded, so we can't add them multiple times for each race.

what I'm thinking, is that STR_SNAKEMAN_TERROR would be set with the raceWeights attribute so that only they could use it.  Same for your cult mission.  STR_CULT1_POLITICAL_RALLY is weighted to only Cult One, etc.

Yeah, it could work like this, but still requires changes to the code.

Offline arrakis69ct

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2014, 04:33:43 pm »
Too work to do. I am not a coder. But may try test and translate to spanish if you want


When i read The first step i think similar to the start of xcom bureau XD

For the 3 step may be war in mars
« Last Edit: April 02, 2016, 03:46:16 pm by Solarius Scorch »

Offline HelmetHair

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2014, 05:07:33 pm »
I think that the real interesting mission types would be in the beginning before X-Com takes off. A limited number of investigators, out of a helicopter in remote areas trying to figure out WTF is going on. Reports of grave robbing, Chupacabra, skinwalkers or other strange happenings. Scrabbling in the dark to make sense of why weird shit keeps happening around the world and your biggest competitor is organizations like NATO or the former Warsaw pact. 

Imagine having ONLY 2 guys at night in the middle of the desert with pistols and knives hunting "Something" through the remains of a 19th century cemetery. The tension of knowing it could be nothing or something big. The mission could be bullshit, or it could be very bad. What if what these two poor shmucks were investigating was a crysalid?

Yeah this could be good.

Offline NeXaXeN

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2014, 05:24:39 pm »
I love this idea Scorch.

To avoid making a huge TL;DR post, I'll keep my comments brief:


Phases: I'd love a "hybrid" game in that you have to take out

(1) Cydonia (EU), then
(2) T'Leth (TFTD), then
(3) a new HQ (based on the custom races you and others have been making) that uses UFOs and USOs... so you need new craft that can do Air and Water and Space?,
(3.5) Eliminate all the renegade factions on earth (Cult of Sirius, Exalt, MiB, etc.) and then
(4) Invade the alien home world! Give them a taste of their own medicine! End the extraterrestrial threat once and for all!


Coding: I'm no coder either, so I don't know if these are possible:

a) If certain missions are ENABLED by in game criteria, how about DISABLING them?

Example: Alien Infiltration works through alien hybrids. What if you could do a CYDONIA OR BUST! style mission to take out the hybrid facility? Fail, and you lose the craft and your operatives. Succeed, and Alien Infiltration missions end.

b) Either/Or endings: Is it possible to code outcomes based on mission actions?

Example: I always hated my operatives dying in TFTD taking out T'Leth. What if you had a choice?
i. Take out the pylons, and the alien destroys T'Leth and your team ala vanilla.
ii. SET CHARGES: You have X turns to get your operatives to the elevator and escape. T'Leth blows, and your escaping operatives survive.


Whatever you do Scorch, I know it will rock.

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2014, 01:56:44 am »
Solarius Scorch I think last one will be easy to implements. In next week I will try do it in my branch.

Offline HelmetHair

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2014, 03:31:28 am »

I love this idea Scorch.

To avoid making a huge TL;DR post, I'll keep my comments brief:


Phases: I'd love a "hybrid" game in that you have to take out

(1) Cydonia (EU), then
(2) T'Leth (TFTD), then
(3) a new HQ (based on the custom races you and others have been making) that uses UFOs and USOs... so you need new craft that can do Air and Water and Space?,
(3.5) Eliminate all the renegade factions on earth (Cult of Sirius, Exalt, MiB, etc.) and then
(4) Invade the alien home world! Give them a taste of their own medicine! End the extraterrestrial threat once and for all!


Coding: I'm no coder either, so I don't know if these are possible:

a) If certain missions are ENABLED by in game criteria, how about DISABLING them?

Example: Alien Infiltration works through alien hybrids. What if you could do a CYDONIA OR BUST! style mission to take out the hybrid facility? Fail, and you lose the craft and your operatives. Succeed, and Alien Infiltration missions end.

b) Either/Or endings: Is it possible to code outcomes based on mission actions?

Example: I always hated my operatives dying in TFTD taking out T'Leth. What if you had a choice?
i. Take out the pylons, and the alien destroys T'Leth and your team ala vanilla.
ii. SET CHARGES: You have X turns to get your operatives to the elevator and escape. T'Leth blows, and your escaping operatives survive.


Whatever you do Scorch, I know it will rock.


I too would love to see a hybrid game, but with the underwater portion kicking in with the first alien base removal.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2014, 11:10:34 am »
I think that the real interesting mission types would be in the beginning before X-Com takes off. A limited number of investigators, out of a helicopter in remote areas trying to figure out WTF is going on. Reports of grave robbing, Chupacabra, skinwalkers or other strange happenings.

Yes, exactly this! Though the actual scope would have to be limited, after all it's a tactical game. And as much as I love Call of Cthulhu, we can't just throw any supernatural rumours in the game, only stuff related to the aliens.

a) If certain missions are ENABLED by in game criteria, how about DISABLING them?

Shouldn't be a problem, disabling works more or less fine via ruleset, as long as the thing isn't hardcoded.

Example: Alien Infiltration works through alien hybrids. What if you could do a CYDONIA OR BUST! style mission to take out the hybrid facility? Fail, and you lose the craft and your operatives. Succeed, and Alien Infiltration missions end.

Yeah, that's what I meant in the opening post. Though I don't think you should be able to stop vanilla missions.

b) Either/Or endings: Is it possible to code outcomes based on mission actions?

I would like to know about this too :)

Solarius Scorch I think last one will be easy to implements. In next week I will try do it in my branch.

Very cool. Thanks!

How about other stuff? I would like your opinion whether it's doable at all (realistically).

I too would love to see a hybrid game, but with the underwater portion kicking in with the first alien base removal.

But if you meet TFTD enemies after you already have plasmas, blasters, Avengers and all that, they won't stand a chance...

Besides, I want to link one cult faction with the Gillmen. :)

Offline davide

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2014, 03:29:08 pm »
+100

I am very interesting about this idea

Offline HelmetHair

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2014, 04:04:50 pm »

But if you meet TFTD enemies after you already have plasmas, blasters, Avengers and all that, they won't stand a chance...

Besides, I want to link one cult faction with the Gillmen. :)

No, I mean literally after your first base mission assaulting an alien base you start seeing USO activity. Besides, plasma weapons, and blaster bombs don't work underwater, oh and no armor either... so literally you would be starting over :)

The differences in the tech tree between above and below water should be pronounced. Alien alloy vs Aqua plastics, alien alloys being cheaper but being unsuitable for aquatic work, while aqua plastics work above and below water but are REALLY expensive. Also the damage types could be really neat to see how they would play off one another. Sonic being super effective against alien alloys and plasma being super effective against aqua plastics, and introducing a THIRD material that consumes both to manufacture that can handle both.

It also opens up possibilities with armor, where you can have flying suits on land missions and Mag Ion armor underwater. Laser weapons on land gauss underwater. Plasma doesn't work underwater but does way more damage, while sonics do less damage but can go anywhere.

Oh, and being able to recover UFOs shot down over water would rock. Being able to scavenge a few bits and pieces instead of literally nothing.

Then there are the terror mission combinations that make me sweat just a little thinking about. Lobsterman/ Chrysalids and Ethereals/Biodrome ugh.... I'd prolly just pack it in.

-HH

Offline Duke_Falcon

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2014, 07:44:06 pm »
Quote
Phase 3: ?
There are many possibilities of what to do with the X-Com project after conquering Cydonia, and all of the remain pure fantasies at this point. Travelling a galaxy map to explore and fight on various planets of the alien empire? Preparing for a second wave of the attack, now more serious? Some transition to TFTD (assuming a hybrid game would not be possible)? This phase is here just for show, really; I don't have any concrete plans.

Why not like something: Cydonia is ruined but not full destroyed and Mars is still under alien controll whom want Cydonia back. Then X-com troops survived Cydonia shall be your starting on Mars and Cydonia your first base. Scientists and the rest on route from Earth along with supplies but the first month you must survive on your own.
Then your goal is to find and destroy all alien bases on Mars while you continually raided by aliens. Terrors could occur on the surrounding (around Cydonia) earthling colony. Then as you slowly progress with this you can gather small pieces of indicating infos what lead swiftly to TFTD storyline...

Some example:



This way the player got some preview from the TFTD world and a continous storyline. Like your scientists found alien datas about long lost colony ships (T'leth) and that they wanted Earth because they thought one ship lost there (but not found them, so it need time to pass to T'leth revive). How it fit to the TFTD intro? Let us assume that the mentioned beam is a common sign of alert what spread every direction of the universe and travel untill the nearest alien sensors sense or catch it. Since T'leth was on Earth it was the first to catch the signal. And it also enabling some expansion: The signal reach far colonies what begin to assebling a retaliation force against Earth (eta 50-60 years after Cydonia's fall shall they may arrive?)... Many possibilities could be hidden there and this is just my idea about it.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2014, 07:44:44 pm »
No, I mean literally after your first base mission assaulting an alien base you start seeing USO activity. Besides, plasma weapons, and blaster bombs don't work underwater, oh and no armor either... so literally you would be starting over :)

Yeah, because Flying Suits are known for being extremely water-soluble. :P

And even if plasma doesn't work underwater, there are still plasma grenades and blaster bombs... And surface missions.

The differences in the tech tree between above and below water should be pronounced. Alien alloy vs Aqua plastics, alien alloys being cheaper but being unsuitable for aquatic work

Yeah, its solubility has already been established... XD

while aqua plastics work above and below water but are REALLY expensive. Also the damage types could be really neat to see how they would play off one another. Sonic being super effective against alien alloys and plasma being super effective against aqua plastics, and introducing a THIRD material that consumes both to manufacture that can handle both.

Having had a laugh, yeah, a theoretical hybrid game would require designing parameters for both materials. And a reason to research them.

It also opens up possibilities with armor, where you can have flying suits on land missions and Mag Ion armor underwater. Laser weapons on land gauss underwater. Plasma doesn't work underwater but does way more damage, while sonics do less damage but can go anywhere.

Maybe... Too much balancing for me to say anything right now. :P

Oh, and being able to recover UFOs shot down over water would rock. Being able to scavenge a few bits and pieces instead of literally nothing.

Hell yeah.

Then there are the terror mission combinations that make me sweat just a little thinking about. Lobsterman/ Chrysalids and Ethereals/Biodrome ugh.... I'd prolly just pack it in.

Haha!

EDIT:

@ Duke Falcon: Perhaps it's a bit too railroady though. I'd rather have a more self-driven, sandbox experience...
« Last Edit: September 22, 2014, 07:47:18 pm by Solarius Scorch »

Offline arrakis69ct

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2014, 02:12:23 pm »
If the flaying sistems is the ambient compressed and expulsed may be compatible with 2 ambients. Air for land and water for marine ambient.

The plasma is viable in water if the reaction is in the weapon internal. Only have bubbles in the line of fire. And decreased the distance and power

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Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: New megaproject, working name: FMP+
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2014, 03:42:22 pm »
If the flaying sistems is the ambient compressed and expulsed may be compatible with 2 ambients. Air for land and water for marine ambient.

The plasma is viable in water if the reaction is in the weapon internal. Only have bubbles in the line of fire. And decreased the distance and power

Yeah, something could be done with this, as long as there's code.