Author Topic: Alien data slate - 'revision'  (Read 627 times)

Offline krautbernd

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Alien data slate - 'revision'
« on: September 03, 2019, 09:18:05 pm »
Right now the alien data slate is kind of pointless, given how some of the reasearch topics you can obtain from it are also needed to decrypt it, and the random nature of unlocked topics (through the slate, as well as through interrogations). As far as I can tell, part of this is due to how alien vocabulary is unlocked - which itself requires 'advanced' topics, but doesn't unlock any new interrogation topics, despite the flavour text. It's also kind of strange that we need to research the vocabulary on top of alien language and alien codes.

This isn't a full revision, but more something i came up while looking through the research tree, taking into account what vocabulary is supposed to do (unlock advanced intierrogations) and how the slate&encryption ties into this.

My suggestion would be to tie alien vocabulary not to any advanced topics, but to interrogation of different alien ranks themselves - alien vocabulary unlocks once you have interrogated all of the alien ranks (maybe sans commander), and unlocks advanced topics that can be gained during interrogation.

Make the alien data / encryption researchable without alien vocabulary, but make it take a lot more time. As OXCE allows us to disable/hide research&manufacturing options, disable those options once alien vocabulary is unlocked and instead unlock an 'alternative' decrypt option that takes less time. That way players aren't potentially locked out of acquiring said research until they have unlocked a 'random' interrogation topic.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Alien data slate - 'revision'
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2019, 10:25:49 am »
Thanks, I'll see about it when I'm back from the holidays.

My suggestion would be to tie alien vocabulary not to any advanced topics, but to interrogation of different alien ranks themselves - alien vocabulary unlocks once you have interrogated all of the alien ranks (maybe sans commander), and unlocks advanced topics that can be gained during interrogation.

Can you please elaborate why exactly you'd need all the ranks to get the alien vocabulary research?

Make the alien data / encryption researchable without alien vocabulary, but make it take a lot more time. As OXCE allows us to disable/hide research&manufacturing options, disable those options once alien vocabulary is unlocked and instead unlock an 'alternative' decrypt option that takes less time. That way players aren't potentially locked out of acquiring said research until they have unlocked a 'random' interrogation topic.

I'm not sure what you mean by "alternative" option - can you provide a clarification on how it's supposed to work (in terms of game mechanics)?

Offline krautbernd

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Re: Alien data slate - 'revision'
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2019, 08:33:31 pm »
Sorry for the late reply, was kind of busy the last few days.

As for vocabulary reasearch, my rationale for requiring 'all' ranks (except possibly commanders) instead would be that right now x-com would have to have knowledge of advanced alien terms/technologies (via alien codes&language) and the topics required to unlock it aren't necessarily all that more complex than what vocabulary itself unlocks. To me it seems that x-com at that point should have no problems with the actual vocabulary - even if they don't know all of the terms the aliens might use, they have a general understanding of the technology and concepts.

X-COM has to practically work out from scratch how to communicate with extraterrestial beings, and the fluff articles imply that different ranks have quite different knowledge of the overall organization and technologies used by the aliens. To get a grasp on the overall knowledge and topics available to alien ranks you need to actually interrogate them - in order to build up an actual vocabulary you can work with in further interrogations.

In terms of game-mechanics, interrogating alien ranks is a lot less random then getting certain topics from those interrrogations, which also means you would actually be able to benefit from vocabulary research (data slate etc.) and not potentionally locked out from research that should be available but isn't because you got a bad roll on that last engineer you interrogated. There are simply a lot more topics that can be gotten from interrogations and getting the right ones for progression can be extremely random.

The 'alternative' decryption method could be tied to either to the manufacturing or the research project (unless I'm misremembering things, which is entirely possible). Make either the manufacturing (i.e. decryption) or the research of the decrypted slate take longer than usual. Create a new research/manufacturing topic that is identical (so it unlocks/produces the same stuff), but which takes less time, which is unlocked upon researching alien vocabulary but which also locks/disable the original research/manufacturing topic (since it wouldn't make much sense for x-com to waste time when they don't have to).
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 08:40:29 pm by krautbernd »

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Alien data slate - 'revision'
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2019, 07:22:41 pm »
I don't disagree, I just find it hard to fit this model anywhere.
I don't want to make the interrogation business from scratch, that would be beyond what I am prepared to do right now. I can modify the getOneFree list on the slate, though.
Perhaps the slate isn't such a swell idea in the first place... Or maybe it should be extremely rare.

Offline krautbernd

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Re: Alien data slate - 'revision'
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2019, 09:25:05 pm »
Modifying the list might be a good stop-gap measure, but I think the underlaying problem (at least for me) is not necessarily the slate itself, but the number and random nature of topics you can get from engineers. Maybe locking important research behind a randomized list isn't such a good idea.

I'd urge you to not remove the slate from the game, as I think it's an excellent addition lore/fluff wise and having the aliens use and x-com use/decrypt it makes sense.  Instead make it available for research earlier in the tree (either by changing the requirements for alien vocabulary or by having different encryption topics for the slate and the key) and by revising/adding research topics that it can unlock.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Alien data slate - 'revision'
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2019, 02:01:28 pm »
Actually I did the opposite: I made the slate much harder to get. It was WAY too prolific, reflecting FMP balance rather than XCF balance.

With easier access to the slate, I would be worried that it'd marginalize capturing living aliens, which is already easy once you have the proper tools.

Also, it would be nice to have more topics, but these things don't write themselves.

Offline krautbernd

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Re: Alien data slate - 'revision'
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2019, 04:35:30 pm »
Actually I did the opposite: I made the slate much harder to get. It was WAY too prolific, reflecting FMP balance rather than XCF balance.

With easier access to the slate, I would be worried that it'd marginalize capturing living aliens, which is already easy once you have the proper tools.
There is a difference between making the slate easier to get and not locking research behind a number of topics than can only be unlocked in a random order. I can understand that you want to avoid alien interrogations being marginalized, but aren't you in turn marginalizing the slate by locking decryption behind a number of topics that can only be gained by random interrogations where the player is likely to unlock most of the topics that they can gain from the slate as well? I don't think it's a good idea to lock off important research topics that way. I think making the slate hard to get is a good idea, but making it also hard to unlock/research kind of defeats the purpose of recovering something that's supposed to be rare but useful.

This is mostly down to alien vocabulary requiring 19 engineers (or a combination of other ranks) to be captured/interrogated if the player is unlucky. I think this is kind of excessive given the usefulness of the slate. It's one thing to randomize fluff articles, but doing this for multi-tiered research seems odd at best since you're also randomizing the usefulness of the slate.

Also, it would be nice to have more topics, but these things don't write themselves.
Isn't this more a matter of having too much topics though? As I understand it the slate is supposed to be a fall-back for interrogation topics that the player failed to unlock (which is a good thing to have as it gives the player more than one option to unlock important research). The problem is that in order to use the slate the player has to unlock (or will likely have unlocked) a number of topics that the slate contains. It's not that the slate itself is redundant - this is down solely to it being tied to alien vocabulary. If you want the slate to remain useful you will probably need to revise how it can be decrypted or at least reduce the number of initial topics available to the engineers.

This is why I'm arguing that alien vocabulary itself should not be tied to a list of topics that are random in nature. Alternatively alien vocabulary should not be a requirement for decrypting the slate.

Offline Solarius Scorch

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Re: Alien data slate - 'revision'
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2019, 07:31:01 pm »
There is a difference between making the slate easier to get and not locking research behind a number of topics than can only be unlocked in a random order. I can understand that you want to avoid alien interrogations being marginalized, but aren't you in turn marginalizing the slate by locking decryption behind a number of topics that can only be gained by random interrogations where the player is likely to unlock most of the topics that they can gain from the slate as well? I don't think it's a good idea to lock off important research topics that way. I think making the slate hard to get is a good idea, but making it also hard to unlock/research kind of defeats the purpose of recovering something that's supposed to be rare but useful.

I agree, but is it really that hard to get? I mean, maybe; I've never gotten this far in a campaign, so I literally can't say.
I wouldn't mind the slate being reduced to a life belt, in case some crucial topic keeps eluding you for RNG reasons.

This is mostly down to alien vocabulary requiring 19 engineers (or a combination of other ranks) to be captured/interrogated if the player is unlucky. I think this is kind of excessive given the usefulness of the slate. It's one thing to randomize fluff articles, but doing this for multi-tiered research seems odd at best since you're also randomizing the usefulness of the slate.
Isn't this more a matter of having too much topics though? As I understand it the slate is supposed to be a fall-back for interrogation topics that the player failed to unlock (which is a good thing to have as it gives the player more than one option to unlock important research). The problem is that in order to use the slate the player has to unlock (or will likely have unlocked) a number of topics that the slate contains. It's not that the slate itself is redundant - this is down solely to it being tied to alien vocabulary. If you want the slate to remain useful you will probably need to revise how it can be decrypted or at least reduce the number of initial topics available to the engineers.

But if there are less topics, the player will get to Cydonia before seeing most of the content. My main concern is how to slow down the player, not speed them up!

This is why I'm arguing that alien vocabulary itself should not be tied to a list of topics that are random in nature. Alternatively alien vocabulary should not be a requirement for decrypting the slate.

Alas, see above. I would have to make the slate only contain moderately important information, and even if I wanted to (doesn't sound that bad) I don't have good topic candidates, or at least not enough.