Author Topic: [IDEAS] How much should an aircraft rental cost?  (Read 415 times)

Offline The Reaver of Darkness

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[IDEAS] How much should an aircraft rental cost?
« on: August 04, 2018, 03:26:34 am »
I'm on a campaign to solve X-Com costs and budget, to ultimately redesign the numbers from the ground up to make an end result that is much more believable as budget/expense numbers. I am willing to stretch the values a bit to make up for such scale differences as the cost of an aircraft versus a squad of soldiers, but in the end I want something that doesn't ask you to considerably suspend your disbelief. At worst, I should not have to stretch the numbers any further than the choice between the real-life bottom budget price and the real-life top-quality cost. Can I get some input on price realism?


Aircraft
Aircraft is going to be a tough one, which is why I want to start there. I've got some headcanon going that the council of funding nations has got the support of powerful militaries to create an aircraft program just for X-Com in which they are provided at substantially reduced price on the caveat that X-Com does not own the craft. As an insurance program to enable X-Com to make maximal usage of the aircraft, any losses are eaten by the provider, and X-Com incurs only a score penalty. Furthermore, aircraft fuel is provided in unlimited quantities at no expense.

The price of the aircraft should not entirely reflect its actual cost, as X-Com is receiving a substantial discount; rather the amount it does cost is designed in part to restrict the X-Com Commander from over-use of aircraft, and in part to reduce the amount lost to the provider if a craft does get shot down. Even still, I fully expect reasonable prices for such top-of-the-line experimental aircraft to be completely out of scale with many of the other expenses of running an X-Com base; correct me if I'm wrong on this because I hope I am.

So what do these sorts of aircraft actually cost to produce/operate? How much do smaller/cheaper fighters cost, and how much price variance is there across different types of fighters? I want to use this info to choose a rental price point for aircraft, and feel free to suggest your own rental price point as well.


Base Facilities
The only other thing I think could rival the cost of aircraft are the actual base facilities. In fact, I can accept the cost of personnel and equipment being much lower if the cost of aircraft and facilities are at least balanced with each other. Personnel/equipment costs have plenty of flexibility anyway which I'll get into further down this post. I don't have much understanding of the cost of constructing or operating facilities such as is present in an X-Com base. Do you guys know much about such costs? Consider the extra expense of putting the same facility underground in a secret rural location. Or don't. If you have any numbers at all, they will be helpful!


Personnel - Soldiers
Obviously the paychecks of ten soldiers would be trivial next to the cost of operating a base containing multiple advanced aircraft. But the net cost of the soldier can go far beyond their pay. If you assume we're getting top-scoring volunteers who are signing their own death warrant potentially for reasons other than saving the world they may not live to appreciate, then you can assume a high paycheck, a lot of money being dumped into an insurance fund, money to pay for their training and basic resource use, the cost of maintaining their morale within a tight space while the threat of death by incompetent commander looms overhead; you can figure the cost per soldier is a lot more than one might expect. We can scale the numbers up a bit further if needed, on the basis that the small squad size is itself unrealistic and done for the purpose of gameplay quality.

It is also conceivable that the majority of soldier cost might be their life insurance payout. When you have no idea their chance of campaign survival and every reason to believe it's grim, it could be mandatory to set aside 100% life insurance payout for every soldier until either they die or the campaign ends. I'm more familiar with these numbers so I don't need help here as much, but feel free to offer some numbers.


Personnel - Scientists and Engineers
Much like the soldiers, the net cost of the scientists and engineers will be drastically higher than their paychecks. While their pay is probably higher than that of soldiers, the improved life expectancy can lead to major insurance savings. I expect the primary cost of scientists and engineers is the equipment they use and, in many cases, expend. Since there is top emphasis on getting the job done quickly while using a small and cramped facility, there will probably be a logistics and storage division which maintains a less-secret equipment warehouse near the base which has lots of expensive research and manufacturing equipment available for rapid delivery as needed. High-end equipment like this is often custom-designed for a specific purpose and doesn't normally sit unused in a warehouse, so there will be fees going to the companies which have been temporarily deprived of the machinery. Expenses such as these can factor into both the cost of the laboratory or workshop maintenance cost as well as the monthly cost of each scientist or engineer.

I'm not particularly familiar with the costs of either high-end techies or the equipment they operate, so any number help you guys have would be much appreciated!


Equipment
I used to believe that the costs of the guns and such were higher than normal gun prices of the time due to X-Com sourcing the best, not the cheapest. But after some actual examination and comparison, I discovered many of their prices are bottom-end if not unreasonably low. Example: $1500 for a rifle, including all of the optional equipment that goes with it, is actually a fairly standard rate for a basic military assault rifle, in which much of the design consideration went into trying to reduce the cost. It is much more believable that X-Com would consider the cost of an assault rifle to be essentially no object, with the performance considerations being paramount. Not only can a better rifle enable the X-Com Project to maintain a harder assault against the alien forces, even in the short term a few extra grand spent on a rifle could have a 5% greater chance of keeping a soldier alive and pay for itself on insurance savings alone.

I have some experience with these numbers (and they are just easier to check via Google), but I'm still interested in your input! A few things in particular I'd like to hear about are:
1.) How much would custom weaponry cost? Example: the autocannon doesn't seem like a real weapon. It can easily be explained as a special weapon designed for the needs of the X-Com project, but due to a low market demand the cost of the weapon can be greatly increased, even if the bulk of its parts are in stock for other weapons.
2.) How much would alien artifacts sell for? The primary considerations here are how far X-Com could up-sell such extremely limited items, a reduction in buyer competition due to the secrecy of the project, and perhaps the Council taking a cut of the profit in order to offset the expense of running X-Com. One possibility I can think of is the Council setting a price point per artifact, well beneath its initial value but guaranteeing the immediate sale at that price no matter how many X-Com can collect. In this way the Council can offset some costs by carefully merchandising the artifacts, and X-Com Command can divert their attention away from such capitalistic pursuits. This would explain the unvarying sell value of the artifacts.




So let me know what you know about costs and prices. Don't shoot yourself down if you lack experience; any and all input is welcome!

Offline Warboy1982

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Re: [IDEAS] How much should an aircraft rental cost?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2018, 03:34:45 am »
it's a military op, the contract goes to the lowest bidder.

Offline The Reaver of Darkness

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Re: [IDEAS] How much should an aircraft rental cost?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2018, 04:21:46 am »
Not necessarily. Many or most militaries operate in this fashion because they are in a quantity over quality mindset. It is better for them to have enough forces to hold an entire region than it is to hold a tiny area really well while the enemy just walks around your position.

But special forces are more liberal with their funds due to a need for quality and an inability to operate such a large spread of forces. In covert operations, quality goes ahead of quantity because you need to get it right the first time without raising suspicion. X-Com is likely similar to this strategy. There's a very small number of aliens, but they are individually fearsomely powerful. Trying to overwhelm them with numbers is like trying to overwhelm an anteater with ants. If you have enough ants, the anteater may be unable to eat them all. But neither will the ants be able to harm the anteater. And since the goal is to kill the anteater, it might be beneficial to spend the extra money on the tarantula hawks.

Offline KZad Bhat

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Re: [IDEAS] How much should an aircraft rental cost?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2018, 08:37:42 am »
Typically though newly formed special forces units are highly restricted on their budget, and mostly have to find ways to make due with little or nothing more than a platoon of regular infantry would. Fortunately, they're usually made up of a team of individuals who can do far more with simple weaponry.

Best example of how poorly equipped a new special forces unit can be, the first Delta Force mission was an attempt to rescue the hostages held in Iran, which had to be scuttled when one helicopter broke down because they couldn't carry people out without it . . . they were given only the bare minimum. Also, it was a night mission . . . in which one person was issued night vision goggles, the money wasn't available for me.