Author Topic: What do I do to make the game more challenging?  (Read 12244 times)

Offline Meridian

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2015, 09:15:01 pm »
Everyone can play as they wish; if you like to play with supersoldiers only, it's your choice.
Important is what's fun for you... not what anyone writes anywhere... if abusing every possible exploit is fun for you, who am I to tell you otherwise.

Offline hellrazor

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2015, 10:22:32 pm »
Everyone can play as they wish; if you like to play with supersoldiers only, it's your choice.
Important is what's fun for you... not what anyone writes anywhere... if abusing every possible exploit is fun for you, who am I to tell you otherwise.

I just wanted to mention this point, since it doesn't occur on your list.

Offline Dave84

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2015, 12:08:40 pm »
Quote
Alternatively, there could be the need to re-negotiate contracts with experienced soldiers, each new contract being more and more expensive. This would increase the incentive to retire a soldier (but would keep the option for "calling for heroes" - drawing from the retired ranks at a very high cost).

I really like this idea (re-negotiate contracts), Jagged Alliance 2 had a similar thing where your mercenaries would level up after a while a demand a pay rise, it makes sense really. Being able to retire soldiers and have a "hall of heroes" or something would be cool too. Perhaps you could get a small boost to your score based on their experience every-time you retired someone.

As an aside on the issue of super soldiers I really like the training rooms you can get in OpenXCom Extended, but they make the game too easy after a while as every soldier can eventually become a super soldier. Still think I'd rather have them than not though, I dislike training really bad rookies through several missions but I don't like firing anyone either.

Quote
I Actually think that UFO Extender Accuracy makes the game easier. It reduces snapaim for aliens, and Snapshot is the only mode in which they fire back.
Also Autoshot become incredible useless, even in close quarter combat.

I actually have come to the conclusion UFO Extender Accuracy is the single change/mod that makes the biggest difficulty change in the game. It makes it harder for the humans, but it doesn't really affect the aliens much at all, due to how they behave:

Spoiler:
They will never shoot at a target further away than 20 tiles (the max viewing distance)*. I have seen this in the game and confirmed it by looking at the code. Since snap range is 15 by default, the accuracy reduction doesn't affect them much. They will also only use autoshot for targets less than 4 tiles away, so the autshot nerf only affects humans. IMHO the autoshot nerf is needed, otherwise autoshot is always the better choice, it's still useful at close quarters like storming ufos.

UFO Extender Accuracy makes the game harder as it forces you to play the game the way the aliens do by default. In fact, to make it truly equal, the aimRange or even the maxRange of all weapons should be set to 20 too. That probably wouldn't be much fun though.

*If you're using the real vision mod, or OpenXCom Extended and have increased the max view distance, this also affects how far the aliens will shoot.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2015, 12:31:19 pm by Dave84 »

Offline yrizoud

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2015, 01:41:54 pm »
In fact, to make it truly equal, the aimRange or even the maxRange of all weapons should be set to 20 too.
Indeed, it introduces tactics for the player (much easier to overlap field of fire over the whole map) but it's unfair for the alien side that the AI doesn't use it.

I've actually implemented maxRange 20 in my alternative armory mod. From my tests, it works pretty well, the game stops your movement at exactly 20 tiles when your soldier gets a visual contact. The only annoyance is when you have smoke cover, your unit doesn't see the alien so you have to advance and try fire several times.

Offline hellrazor

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2015, 04:24:41 pm »
I actually have come to the conclusion UFO Extender Accuracy is the single change/mod that makes the biggest difficulty change in the game. It makes it harder for the humans, but it doesn't really affect the aliens much at all, due to how they behave:

They will never shoot at a target further away than 20 tiles (the max viewing distance)*. I have seen this in the game and confirmed it by looking at the code. Since snap range is 15 by default, the accuracy reduction doesn't affect them much. They will also only use autoshot for targets less than 4 tiles away, so the autshot nerf only affects humans. IMHO the autoshot nerf is needed, otherwise autoshot is always the better choice, it's still useful at close quarters like storming ufos.

UFO Extender Accuracy makes the game harder as it forces you to play the game the way the aliens do by default. In fact, to make it truly equal, the aimRange or even the maxRange of all weapons should be set to 20 too. That probably wouldn't be much fun though.

I would rather give the alien the ability to shot at you from out of sight if they have a LOF at you, as long as you get spotted by another alien.
Your proposal would require to get all soldiers to walk into the LOS of the alien they wanna shot. Which would negate scout/snipe tactics. towards the most part.
But this actually gives me some nice ideas regarding this stuff.

Offline yrizoud

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2015, 04:38:01 pm »
Your proposal would require to get all soldiers to walk into the LOS of the alien they wanna shot. Which would negate scout/snipe tactics. towards the most part.
In my mod, for balance, the only weapons which maintain infinite range have no snap shot ability (no reaction shot) or no aimed shot (long-distance bullet hail, scout had better have good backside armor)

Offline Meridian

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2015, 04:39:17 pm »
I would rather give the alien the ability to shot at you from out of sight if they have a LOF at you, as long as you get spotted by another alien.

Yeah, I would like that as well.

I would even go further than that and allow them to shoot if they themselves have spotted you already before and still have LoF, but no LoS. That would eliminate another rather typical AI abuse: spot the alien... make one step back... and shoot without having to worry about retaliation.

But it's all non-vanilla behaviour, somebody would have to make it configurable/moddable.

Offline hellrazor

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2015, 04:47:32 pm »
Yeah, I would like that as well.

I would even go further than that and allow them to shoot if they themselves have spotted you already before and still have LoF, but no LoS. That would eliminate another rather typical AI abuse: spot the alien... make one step back... and shoot without having to worry about retaliation.

But it's all non-vanilla behaviour, somebody would have to make it configurable/moddable.

Well basically it would help if the game would hide units, when you ahev no longer LOS of them. The would become invisible to you again, but you would know they are there. So you always would need someone to keep LOS.

Offline Dioxine

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2015, 04:59:45 pm »
Well basically it would help if the game would hide units, when you ahev no longer LOS of them. The would become invisible to you again, but you would know they are there. So you always would need someone to keep LOS.

That's just bad interface, not a tactical improvement. You could still fire at them through forced shots, or throw grenades at them, you'd just have to use pen and paper to mark their positions.

Enabling aliens to fire from beyond their LoS would require expanding current AI states. Right now, the player units are 'spotted' for the AI basically all the time (once seen, for the number of rounds equal to Int score). There would have to be another state: 'currently spotted', refreshed each turn. I am pretty sure the AI was firing from beyond their LoS in vanilla though...

I think the abuse of making a step back and firing is what we have to live with. Getting rid of it would completely change how LoS and Reactions work. Player's units couldn't react in the described case either.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2015, 05:02:25 pm by Dioxine »

Offline Vakrug

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2022, 08:38:15 pm »
Very interesting discussion. But one important aspect is still missing.
This aspect can be described with a question: "Do you play the game how it's author intended to be played?"
This question is very important in every game, because game is an art in which creation participates both game's author and a player.
When we talk about things like "game is not challenging enough" a context should be provided:
1. Game is not challenging enough because I am not playing how it was intended.
2. Game is not challenging enough because I am playing how it was intended.
Most of the time with X-com games 1-st context is present. So suggestions for situation improvement should be in line with "start playing how it was intended".
I hope I have delivered my thought...

The best option, perhaps, would be retirement. Because seriously, how many missions would humanity demand from its defender? Surviving 20, 30 missions is more than enough to be called a hero. An open-ended contract (implied 0% chance of survival) would realistically be very harmful to morale. But as of now, a kicked-out soldier is not even kept in the Memorial. It would be much more fun if you could retire a soldier with honors if his record would be kept in some "hall of heroes" of sorts. Because supersoldiers, too, get boring after a while and fresh blood is always fun - new names, new faces, new stories.
Interesting idea, but I would like to improve that. Retirement is too harsh. How about vacations? For example: if a soldier achieved veteran status (not to be confused with rank), then each day there is a possibility for him to be not available for missions. Not applied for soldiers in flying crafts.

About RPG... I am not saying RPG elements don't belong to the game... they certainly do... every game nowadays is a genre-mix.
Well, I am saying that x-com is definitely not an RPG game. RPG is all about different characters with different personalities and abilities that cannot be completely altered by a player. Pretty mush the only RPG related thing in this game is PSI-strength and that's all. All veteran soldiers are completely the same (except PSI-strength). Rookies are also the same. In X-Pirates mod rookies at least are very randomized, so it is possible to have good archer and bad shooter, but after a while this distinction nullifies.

I hope to see someday a mod that adds RPG elements in this game. For example, every soldier have some unique properties, but they are hidden from the start and only reveals themselves during specific circumstances (both at battlescape and geoscape).

Offline NancyGold

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2022, 11:51:56 am »

In geoscape, there is very little potential to make the game truly harder (and a lot of potential to just make it annoying instead).

How about AI reacting to player progress, while at the same time introducing a time limit, which can be extended by player with some effort? Make it easy enough that most people will be able to get into the mid game, but only the real luck and commitment will make you win the game. And these psi soldiers are the end game thing, but since they are really OP, they should be sufficiently rare (i.e. only 1 out of 10 soldiers could have aptitude towards it) and have something like exhaustion level, so can' do psi non-stop, or start losing health and sanity. Then some alien race can be immune to psi, and if player overuses psi, these aliens can appear more frequently. I think i would also make sense to lower the difficulty in many areas, like soldiers not dying after the first hit (unless it is some headshot), but becoming incapacitated and require a quick medic help, and really lengthy recovery, with maybe expensive high tech prosthetics (think robocop style soldiers, where only the brain was left in the end game) or losing say an arm or an eye, which obviously lowers abilities or forces you to retire them, but at less reputation cost than if they are killed in combat. Same could apply to civilian casualties. That will make support roles more useful, and the soldiers feeling less like cannon fodder. Such features shouldn't require large changes to the code base or additional graphics.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2022, 11:55:19 am by NancyGold »

Offline psavola

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2022, 12:19:49 pm »
I think we've gone beyond discussing vanilla OXC, which was the premise of the original post. Geoscape can be made much harder by making the UFOs harder and especially making them hunter-killers (and pumping up their power so they kill essentially any of your single craft, even two crafts, if you meet them). But that also makes the game much more annoying (or satisfying if you like the ultimate and sometimes quite random challendge of being wiped out if you chance across a wrong UFO or location in geoscape). So I suppose the real question is how to make the game harder yet not completely unfair or annoying besides.

In the same vein, if you wanted to make the game engine more realistic, you could only hold preprimed explosives in your hands and you could not drop them (unless you unprimed them) without setting them off. In this setting, it would make sense to have the behaviour like instant grenades enabled. Or if not, throwing an explosive with timer set to 0 would always set it off when thrown or dropped off. Then it might actually even make some sense to use priming values that differ from the default; I wonder if anyone has ever used grenades with prime delay.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2022, 12:31:10 pm by psavola »

Offline nooblord

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2022, 12:33:11 pm »
If you want to make the game harder, there is one simple method to achieve it. With Restrictions.  Restricted the supplies that one can purchase or obtained.  Fighting a war without proper supplies.. will be hard.  Stuff can’t be manufacture any more where it was possible before in vanilla. A few mods has demonstrated that principle. You need to scavenge everything you need.

Offline Vakrug

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2022, 03:49:17 pm »
I also want to mention some worst examples of attempts to make a game more challenging:
1. Punish player for doing well.
2. Compensate AI stupidity with resources/stats.

In the first case a meta game appears where player tries to convince the game that he is not doing so well. In X-COM that would be something like wounding soldiers to emulate causalities from intense battle.
In the second case a feeling appears that you are playing against a wall and not against an actual sentient opponent. Or at least that you are playing not a strategy game, but tower defense...

Offline NancyGold

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Re: What do I do to make the game more challenging?
« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2022, 05:21:39 pm »

You can get supersoldiers in an even cheesier way than honest battle experience (honest only on their side of course, mostly abusive on your side).
You can (ab)use active "training", for example mind control and disarm a muton, and shoot at him at point blank range until you're out of bullets in your pistol; or even better put him in a circle of soldiers and let them reaction fire and train reactions too. Or mind control him many times to improve psi skills.

Does this feel right? Don't answer, it was just a rhetorical question...

That is actually the main gameplay loop of some games like The Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy Tactics and Disagaea. The last one even made it into an official "feature"  ( https://disgaea.fandom.com/wiki/Level_grinding ). I think the best way to avoid it is to just abandon the experience idea completely or make it participatory to avoid "the muton grinding" on the engine level, while just being shot at or having alien in a line of sight will make the soldier "shell shocked," depressed, weaker, chronic drunk and prone to losing moral. I.e. turn the experience system upside down. It works well for horror games, so should be good for XCOM too. Although during the first two missions  soldier can get limited stats increase, which is solely participatory to avoid grinding and promoting risking soldier lives to make them more "experienced." I.e. that way the frontline soldiers will get weaker and weaker, and destined to fail, while the back line a bit buffed up, incentivizing the player to use them. But, yeah, implementing such balance changes is kinda hard without hacking the code, but it is easier than disciplining oneself to follow the rules like it is a board game.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2022, 06:40:40 pm by NancyGold »