Author Topic: First Camapign: A post op  (Read 2280 times)

Online legionof1

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First Camapign: A post op
« on: June 22, 2018, 08:00:40 am »
So rather then wall o text the discord more on my thoughts on my first run, and to preserve those thoughts for future reflection, i commit them here. 

First the good points.

Atmosphere: Excellent, it really does feel mystery and X-files like. Plenty of fluffy touches, that make for an atmospheric experience. Well done.

Content: Seems varied and good, from what i can tell. The first run ended almost 6 months before the invasion, and i never got much cult progress. Final judgment withheld, as i dont feel i saw a sufficient amount to render a full opinion. But what i did see was good.

The Bad:

Pacing: Holy Balls, there so much going on at any given time that is easy to feel overwhelmed. There are just sufficient signposts of progress that an Xcom vet can muddle along alright, but i felt almost lost, and had to spoil the tech tree to actually make sense of what the signposts told me to do. Later runs likely will feel better cause i know more about what to do. On too the next set of pitfalls.

A second element in pacing worthy of note, is that there are imo to many content Arcs operating at once to get a good feel for any of them. It's all just one huge mashup. Zombies, Creatures, 4 cults, undercover and the occasional ship. 7 sometimes 8 types of things competing for your limited ability to respond. And if the RNG is not in your favor the cults just dont work out. I was only able to progress Black Lotus to the operations stage during my 18 months and when i did they vanished for the next 4 months and the run was over.

The Ugly:

Balance: This is totally impossible to even give a fair assessment. This stems from the above pacing problem, since all but the barest tools must be scavenged from the fallen and defeated. Scavenging by itself is in keeping with the mod style, but the variety or not of drops is on a exceptionally wide spread of RNG. I ended up skipping almost directly to promo 2 and invalidated most drops without ever noticing(skipped nitro express utterly, didn't even know it existed). On the other hand there are some quality drops that i nearly missed out on due too mission crowding(M60 and other military carried things, only 3 military v monster spawned in total. I only reached 1.)

Final assessment:
Gona take more swings, if only to give the mod the opportunity to show all it has to offer. Good and bad aspects but quite the perceived potential. 

Specific suggestions/gripes:
More map clear space around cars vans and humvee. Very often i found i was so crowded in by trees, bushes, rocks, and other map features that i could not make the first turn flee/engage judgment as anything but a blind coin flip. Humvee in particular thought it belonged in a hedge maze during this campaign.

Tack on another year before the invasion or otherwise adjust mission spawning to reduce overcrowding. Intentionally concealing what exactly is going on with cults and creatures in the briefing is okay, but what i observed was such a large variance in allowed progress, particularly between Promo II and containing the first cult. Between getting early promo II and the start of 1998 i saw almost exclusively the lesser cult activity and not the outposts with the officers needed to progress the cults aside from lotus. And once the witch was integrated and lotus operations researched, the lotus stopped clean for 4 months by which point game over. Granted i could not attend all missions that popped in that time frame so there very well could have been what i needed and i was simply overloaded for the agents i had and the blind picks i made.


 

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2018, 10:33:43 am »
Many thanks for the analysis!

Regarding stuff going on simultaneously: I don't know how to fix this in any other way than by decreasing the amount of missions per month. I could do that, but I'm not sure if it's the right direction (less money, less XP). I welcome everyone to share thoughts.

Regarding parking issues: more space around the Humvee etc. isn't necessarily good, since you can't get to cover that easily. I generally prefer to start surrounded by buildings on most occasions, find some cover, then proceed. But the reason I am not changing this is because it wouldn't be appropriate to make small cars 20x20. So on this one, I must say no.

As for adding another year - can you elaborate? I just don't know what exactly can/should be achieved here, and how it would help with the pacing.

Offline tkzv

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2018, 01:54:28 pm »
Many thanks for the analysis!

Regarding stuff going on simultaneously: I don't know how to fix this in any other way than by decreasing the amount of missions per month. I could do that, but I'm not sure if it's the right direction (less money, less XP). I welcome everyone to share thoughts.
...
As for adding another year - can you elaborate? I just don't know what exactly can/should be achieved here, and how it would help with the pacing.
What is your goal with the order of arcs? When do you expect them to start and end? 4 cults, monsters and zombies start in December 1996, Cydonians start the invasion in January 1999, the rest depends on research, correct? (Or does 2002 trigger something for MiB?) Do you want the invasion to start with cults still on the loose? What about Cyberweb/Dagon/Hybrids?

Beating a cult requires capturing and researching prisoners. The chance to capture  is 10-20%, perhaps lower for stronger enemies.  Thus a safehouse with 4 followers of Dagon and 1 disciple has 35-60% chance of giving at least 1 follower and 10-20% chance for disciple. If unlocking next stage requires only interrogating a disciple, a player needs on the average 5-10 safehouse missions to reach the next stage. If there's 3 safehouse missions per month, next stage can be unlocked in 2 months. And so on. The math is cumbersome, but simple. (I'm not discussing probability distribution for now. If there are 20 captures or more, it approaches Gaussian, I guess.) Estimate when you want the arc to end and set the mission frequency accordingly.

Personally, I'd prefer 1997 for 4 cults and monsters, 1998 for Cyberweb/Hybrids/T'Leth/deep undead, 1999+ for Cydonians. Not sure about other arcs.

There is a simple justified in-game way to prevent a player advancing to a next arc without a stronger army. You already did it for Cyberweb, which requires Durathread Factory, which cannot be captured without some stronger equipment like Xeno armour. You could make other such missions with zero penalty for skipping.

Speaking of prisoners, many advances require interogating engineers, but they are most likely to die in a UFO crash. Is this deliberate?

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2018, 04:15:59 pm »
What is your goal with the order of arcs?

In short, to reveal layers of conspiracy one by one. The biggest bombs aren't even in the game yet.

When do you expect them to start and end? 4 cults, monsters and zombies start in December 1996, Cydonians start the invasion in January 1999, the rest depends on research, correct? (Or does 2002 trigger something for MiB?) Do you want the invasion to start with cults still on the loose? What about Cyberweb/Dagon/Hybrids?

The only major factions that are started by game time are:
At game start: the initial 4 cults, monsters, Zombies (in their most basic form)
Later: the Cydonians and the Cult of Apocalypse.

Other major factions are triggered by research. In general you need to go deep into one of the previous factions or terminate it completely in order to get to the next layer. It is normal for a later faction to coexist with an earlier faction, but the later one will be in its early stages and the earlier one will be in full swing.
Of course much depends on your decisions and (to a lesser degree) RNG.

Beating a cult requires capturing and researching prisoners. The chance to capture  is 10-20%, perhaps lower for stronger enemies.  Thus a safehouse with 4 followers of Dagon and 1 disciple has 35-60% chance of giving at least 1 follower and 10-20% chance for disciple. If unlocking next stage requires only interrogating a disciple, a player needs on the average 5-10 safehouse missions to reach the next stage. If there's 3 safehouse missions per month, next stage can be unlocked in 2 months. And so on. The math is cumbersome, but simple. (I'm not discussing probability distribution for now. If there are 20 captures or more, it approaches Gaussian, I guess.) Estimate when you want the arc to end and set the mission frequency accordingly.

Eh, early enemies are pretty trivial to capture. Some must be killed, but many can simple be beaten into submission with bare fists... I doubt you need more than 3 attempts to capture anything.

Personally, I'd prefer 1997 for 4 cults and monsters, 1998 for Cyberweb/Hybrids/T'Leth/deep undead, 1999+ for Cydonians. Not sure about other arcs.

It's not as clear cut, this isn't a hockey match. But yes, I would say it's mostly like that.

There is a simple justified in-game way to prevent a player advancing to a next arc without a stronger army. You already did it for Cyberweb, which requires Durathread Factory, which cannot be captured without some stronger equipment like Xeno armour. You could make other such missions with zero penalty for skipping.

I would think I did that already across the board. That's the point of layers. Should I fix something?

Speaking of prisoners, many advances require interogating engineers, but they are most likely to die in a UFO crash. Is this deliberate?

Eh? No, not any more than in standard X-Com.

Online legionof1

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2018, 09:29:19 pm »
My thought to adding an extra year was to give more leeway for bad RNG, IE long periods without a given cult or outposts, and to give more visibility/apprecation to the lesser tools dropped from the cults.

My current perspective is that there is too much on the plate to properly appreciate any of it fully. Aiming for about 1 game year per promo level, and your maybe a little ahead of vanilla by the end. At least for the average achiever. The overachiever will always massively distort the intended progression. There are people that succeed at beating Souls games in like an hour but they are extreme outliers.

Regarding the Humvee nearby cover is fine, i'm talking about things like the attached screen shot. 2 agents have to shoot there way out of the bushes to join the battle. And at least this example NV is adding extra tiles i dont actually have LOS to. Only tail position guy actually can see more then 3-4 tile in more then one direction. Insufficient knowledge allowed the player to make an educated choice to flee/fight.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2018, 10:15:12 pm »
Ah, this simply looks like a poorly chosen terrain. :D Nothing to do with the car, though it's more prone to such surprises than a huge plane.


As for the number of arcs going on... I will think if it can be made clearer, but probably not. Eh, at least it's better than five months in a row of just Mutons...

Online legionof1

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2018, 10:41:45 pm »
Variety is usually good, but here with so much going at once i feel it end up hurting the final flavor. It not bad or unplayable just all mushes together and feels blander then it probably is.

Kind of like throwing all the leftovers in the fridge into a stewpot, its more then likely edible, but its not anything great.   

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2018, 04:33:36 pm »
Well I'm not trying to remove anything I want in the mod, obviously. I mean, I don't feel like there is excess of content - this is what I expect from other games, so doubly so from one I am making.
I realize it's not what I should be saying if I were to be customercentric, but... it's what I want. Every X-Files episode was about something else, with certain arcs resurfacing once in a blue moon, and I like this.
What I could do is limiting the number of missions... Perhaps there are too many. But I am not really sure yet.

Online legionof1

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2018, 11:38:18 pm »
I too still want all of whats there but in a cleaner more separated presentation. The current model feels like 0-to-All.

The campaign in discussion had a singular dagon outpost, vs about 20 Lotus. But the lotus vanished the moment i got there operations tech so i could not progress what till then had been the most prolific cult. Exalt never had an outpost till after the Mansion debacle in Mar 98.

So i had about 1% Dagon, 15% Red Dawn, 34% Exalt(no outposts), and 50% Lotus, up until the last 4 months. Those months where 0% Dagon, 40% Red Dawn(no outposts), 60% exalt, 0% Lotus. Insufficient Dagon overall to have a real shot, and mission type RNG blocked the other 3.

My experience may very well be an outlier but it's a possible outcome that i find myself uncomfortable with given that the cults are the key to progression.


Also the undercover missions barely appeared, 4 in total, 2 ski resorts and 2 beaches.


Offline KateMicucci

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2018, 06:41:23 pm »
My first impressions are that there's a lot of missions, but that's ok. With only 2 guys they go a lot faster than piratez missions.

The issue for me is that it's too much to keep pace with. My prison is crowded but I keep getting more missions to go and capture more of the same guys I already have. My research list is long.

The problem I think is that "capture farmers/cults/monsters" is the only sort of mission there is. Since I'm backlogged, I don't feel like I NEED to capture more cultists and monsters, and there's scant other reason to go on these missions as loot and treasure rewards are minimal. I mean, Piratez also gets a very clogged research tree, but I still do missions for the loot. Putting my agents at risk for maybe one new gun and a few points with the UN doesn't feel very rewarding. Maybe I should just skip missions for a few weeks to give the scientists a chance to catch up?

Offline khade

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2018, 04:56:12 am »
What about adding a quick repeatable research topic for each discovered cult, that focuses your attention on that cult and makes their missions more likely to appear in the next month?  Probably would have to be worth no points to research, maybe it could be one of those ones that don't even require a scientist, they're just an order to look carefully at that group.

Offline Niewiem

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Re: First Camapign: A post op
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2018, 09:42:05 am »
In my playthrough i am in end of 1998 already defeated all of basic cults but maybe I was just lucky ;) I agree that there is a lot going on at the same time but I actually like it ;) It made me create a lot of groups of soldiers in different bases to be able to answer threats consistently.
Right now i have 4 bases each of them has at least one team ready to answer a threat :)