Realistic Ballistics - Progress Report

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Julian Gollop posted this 26 August 2017

We have implemented a 'realistic ballistics' system which works in a similar way to the original X-COMs. It does make combat quite fun. Each bullet has a separate trajectory and damage whatever it hits.

  • Snipers can make headshots against enemies who think they have good cover
  • Heavies can unleash a hail of 12 bullets with their machine guns - but they are not likely to hit - but then they do frequently blow away any light cover
  • Assaults fire a burst of 6 bullets normall, but 4 with overwatch, and 3 with return fire.

Range is a very significant factor with this system since there is an inverse square deterioration in accuracy with distance (as in real life).

For the interface, we have created a first person view with a couple of probability circles - one for 50% of shots expected, and one for 75% of shots. It allows the player to judge the enemies cover visually, and accurately.

It's simple and definitely makes fire-fights tense. There are some issues though

  • Cover is basically WYSIWYG - therefore it is difficult to give the player much info about cover unless he is able to 'see' from different positions. There are no numbers worth displaying. A cover system similar to new XCOM doesn't work.
  • It's would be difficult to give the player meaningful data about expected outcomes from an attack. We could show 'average expected damage' mayber, although it's not easy to calculate.
  • Firing from a first person view all the time would slow the pace of the game. It's not important if the optimum target point is always calculated, but that's not easy. At the moment the player can adjust the precise firing position with the mouse (in the future, you would be able to click on a body part to aim at it, but that's only useful if your accuracy circle is not too big).
  • Soldiers do crouch down next to low cover - but their precise pose is very important because it would determine how much of their body might be exposed above the top of the cover.
  • Stepping out from cover to shoot exposes soldiers completely - to overwatch or return fire. A partial step-out pose may fix this. Similarly, popping up to shoot from low cover also exposes the soldier to return fire - again, maybe fixed by a special pose (depending on weapon).
  • There is no simulation for the difficulty of shooting a moving target, which has always been something that bugged me about turn-based games. There may be a way to do this, but I don't know what it could be.

Overall, I like the visual/naturalistic feel of the shooting, but it might not be everybody's cup of tea. You can expect a video demo of it soon.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ped posted this 29 August 2017

One thing to consider with a realistic ballistics system is that you might not always want to shoot at something, but instead, just near something, for example if you have 2 enemies spaced 1 square apart and you're firing 12 shots, aiming at 1 of them might result in 4 shots hitting, 4 missing to the left and 4 to the right (even spread for demonstration purposes). If you were to aim at the square in between the 2 enemies you could have 4 shots going down the middle 4 hitting the enemy to the left and 4 hitting the enemy to right.

A first person view would be ideal for lining up these optimum shots and seeing the possibilities for where the bullets that'll miss are going to go. Aiming at nothing could be quite inaccurate/cumbersome without a first person 'free-aim' option. 

 

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Mazy posted this 26 August 2017

Nice, this all sounds very good. A lot of this makes using cover really interesting and realistic, which I like.

 

I like the second point about 'not being able to give the player meaningful data about expected outcomes from an attack (we could show average expected attack maybe)'. It's great that damage is not easy to calculate/predetermine, that kind of realism makes the combat and tactics far more interesting..

 

..It also helps to avoid a crucial flaw in many TBS games which allows the player to clinically 'choose' which soldier takes the kill, thus allowing the player to 'choose' which soldier levels up. So it's great that the damage calculation is random enough to avoid this kind of exploit.

 

Sounds like a very realistic LoS system to.. very promising indeed.

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Lollash posted this 27 August 2017

An idea that I had (having played 1000's of hours of the various iterations of XCOM) which addresses some of the thematic simulation issues is to have stacking accuracy bonuses when firing at the same location. A soldier might be inaccurate with their first burst but if they fire at the same location again they are much more likely to able to compensate.

I have no experience with development, but providing your soldiers with an increase to the accuracy for their fire if they fire at the same tile (or within a small radius of that tile) both simulates the compensation of firing repeatedly at the same location AND the simulation of firing at a moving target. If a target sits still in cover and you shoot at it 3 or 4 turns in a row, your probability circles could tighten, making first person firing more viable and the chance to kill a target in a pitched battle more likely if you focus a soldiers attention on a particular target. I think that would be an elegant solution, encourage more dynamic engagements and help to break the classic problem of full cover/full cover stalemates

The idea above of 2 different types of firing (focused fire vs blind/suppressing fire) would add to the depth of the system. Of course, adding depth without having the system be too convulted is a line I can't comment on.

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Faleg posted this 28 August 2017

I don't know if you thought about this, but a possible solution for a player to be able to easily ascertain how much does the cover protect their target could be a "go-pro feed" kind of thing from soldier's face cam - similarly as in Space Hulk Ascension there could be a small window on the side with view from soldier's face camera - perhaps with vital stats and so on for fluff and ease of use. 
That could be a good solution, if a player would have the option to change it's size, move it around, minimise into most basic form etc.

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Geekpride posted this 28 August 2017

Regarding simulating the difficulty of shooting a moving target, there are a couple of options I can think of, both of which involve the game remembering how each unit moved the previous turn.

Option 1 would be to have a simple reduction in accuracy - if the target moved fast on their previous turn, there's an additional penalty to accuracy applied to each shot.

Option 2 would be to change the targeting probability circles and stretch them into elliptical shapes, based on the target's movement on the previous turn.  So if they ran across from left to right, there'd be more chance of the shots going off to the side of them.  On the other hand, if the target ran straight at the shooter, you'd still have a more circular shape.  So with this system, zigzagging from one piece of cover to the next would be a good idea, but running straight at someone with a gun wouldn't work so well.

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woah77 posted this 29 August 2017

I think having a "free-aim" option as a special maneuver would be really cool.

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UnstableVoltage posted this 02 September 2017

Sapistas said:

Fair enough UV. I just have to see this in action I suppose. I still find it worrying that I'll need to muster my mediocre FPS skills to play through a turn-based tactical strategy game but overall I have faith in Julian and I trust the team will deliver.

I see what you're saying. However, you're just going to be clicking on an area to target. It's very different from running and jumping around at speed while trying to headshot someone who is also running and jumping around and shooting back!

Have faith!

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SpiteAndMalice posted this 03 September 2017

I think overall I'm not fussed one way or another about first person aiming. It could be nice if its done well. I liked the system used in Valkyria Chronicles, but I found aiming Mordheim cumbersome and unwieldy (in general I found Mordheim cumbersome and unwieldy). What I wouldn't want with first person aiming is that it takes over from the TBS aspects of the game. To that end, how a couple of other ideas to throw into the mixer.

What if only soldiers using a scope were able to aim in first person mode? And/or what if aiming at limbs were only possible when targetting large creatures? It makes sense that you'd be able to target a limb of that crab queen, but not so much the grunts. I think most people who are trained to shoot, are trained to aim at the chest, but a sniper might be the expection to that rule.

  • This week I have been mostly playing Chaos Reborn.
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SpiteAndMalice posted this 04 September 2017

I think you need to be careful about making any aspect of aiming overly skill based too. Like others have said, I'm not looking for an FPS/TBS mashup.

Invariably whenever an aiming mini game is put into a game the developer makes an estimate on the average skill level of the player... for anyone who's skill is better than that average the aiming quickly becomes too easy and makes that aspect of the game OP in comparison to none aimed shots, for anyone who isn't skilled at aiming the opposite becomes true.

You could introduce a level of shakiness based on the aim skill of the soldier in question, but even then I'd leave it to the AI rather than the player to aim... Otherwise a quick novelty soon starts to feel like we're playing ''Dodgy'' Dave McDrunkard in the Star and Garter annual pub darts championship.

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N.tony posted this 15 September 2017

I wonder why haven't anyone mentioned yet the games where all of that was implemented? A Russian game studio Apeiron created several games in a JA style with a "Smart Pause Mode", which among other cool mechanics implemented a "GoPro view":

http://store.steampowered.com/app/296210/Brigade_E5_New_Jagged_Union/ (their first game, real janky)

http://store.steampowered.com/app/289890/762_High_Calibre/ (a more polished iteration, probably most sandboxy)

http://store.steampowered.com/app/289600/Marauder/ (more story-oriented game, but has the most polished evolution of the SMP)

"GoPro view"

I, for one, am a huge fan of these games and the mechanics, and would urge the devs to at least have a look at them to maybe get inspired or vice versa, reconsider some of the gameplay ideas. This is really the situation when the devs set off to make the richest tactical simulation at the expense of everything else.

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Hellothere_1 posted this 26 August 2017

I really like the genral idea.

As for feedback on enemy hit probability, one idea I just had is a raycast solution.

The idea would that when you hover above a grid spot for your soldier to run to and hold a specific button the entire map gets dark and evry body part of a soldier if he were to enter that grid spot is simulated as a light source. As a result all the spots on the map with line of sight to the soldier get illuminated and the more light rays hits a specific spot the higher enemy hit probability from that spot would be.

Hellothere_1 posted this 26 August 2017

Also I believe the stepping out of cover to take a shot issue would be a great way to add some additional depth. You could have two different shooting animations. One for aimed shots that require greater exposure and one for pop shots with an aim penalty or supressin fire where the soldier stays mostly in cover.

UnstableVoltage posted this 27 August 2017

Lollash said:

An idea that I had (having played 1000's of hours of the various iterations of XCOM) which addresses some of the thematic simulation issues is to have stacking accuracy bonuses when firing at the same location. A soldier might be inaccurate with their first burst but if they fire at the same location again they are much more likely to able to compensate.

Hey Lollash, good to see you here.

I actually really like this idea - that aim should increase over time from a static position (especially for snipers). But thematically, didn't XCom already do this of sorts? "Steady Aim" is taking an extra turn to make sure you have a higher chance of hitting on the next. Also, "Snapshot" for the sniper, allow them to fire after moving for an aim penalty (sort of working in the opposite direction to what you're saying, but I think thematically the same). Still, it would be interesting to have it as a passive mechanic.

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Sapistas posted this 27 August 2017

Isn't all this just too much? First person camera and all? Why not just sumulate the projectiles like the old X-COMs and leave it there?

Anjovi posted this 28 August 2017

hmmmm..What I'd imagine working...

1)Scrap the zoom in first person camera stuff. You can still simulate it but have a small, expandable pop up that can appear when hovering over enemies to shoot at. (big bosses and the smaller henchmen)

Ideally it might look something like:

1) I click my soldier

2a)I click on enemy unit to see the % of a general shot

or i can

2b)Double click to expand this % into a small menu of varying %'s based on the region i want to fire at

 

I think this might work better as instead of zooming in to peep at things individually, i can just click and ideally have a snappy animated prompt that appears, no camera rotation needed. 

Kind of a modern take on fallout 1 and 2's aiming system: http://img.bhs4.com/cd/f/cdfa015443e06eae1a67e7031137082a18cdf5b5_large.jpg

Though perhaps you could make a sort of transparent prompt like this that animates into place. The cover of the aliens could still be partially simulated, but you wouldn't have to match it with the 3d models and environment models 100% 

Just something that could be more fast paced, while easier to program and design around.

Anjovi posted this 28 August 2017

Faleg said:

I don't know if you thought about this, but a possible solution for a player to be able to easily ascertain how much does the cover protect their target could be a "go-pro feed" kind of thing from soldier's face cam - similarly as in Space Hulk Ascension there could be a small window on the side with view from soldier's face camera - perhaps with vital stats and so on for fluff and ease of use. 
That could be a good solution, if a player would have the option to change it's size, move it around, minimise into most basic form etc.

That could work out brilliantly!  To add onto this:

1)click soldier

2)activate aiming (unit facing)

3)click a region on thescreen (as you'd target a unit, terrain feature) If elevation was included, have the player cycle through the varying elevation levels. 

4)The unit's helmet cam zooms to that location, were you can choose to shoot at specific creature features, terrain features (like barrels or support beams for upper floors) I really like the idea of a unit cam as opposed to zooming the entire game in, though perhaps 1st person mode could work fullscreen to if snappy enough.

5) Presto!

----------------------

Regarding targeting moving units. This could possibly be simpler, and utilize your hybrid move system from xcom og and xcom 2012.

Simply:

-You can inch up slowly and cautiously you move slow or really slow depending on how meticulous you are. =aiming bonus for opponents

-You trigger dash by just clicking up beyond a certain point = aiming penalty for opponents

-Units who are fast enough can have even faster speeds = aiming penalty + for opponents

Depending on the speed stat, your movement tiles would be shaded different colors. Maybe awareness stat would mix with this to help unit's monitor/scan their environment when they omve.

Basically: 

Speed (effects)= how many tiles you can move (standard movement color)

Awareness (effects) = the unit's ability to stop mid move to spot a unit and react to it.

So tiers could look like:

Tier 0 = stationary

Tier 1 = slow

Tier 2 = fast

Tier 3 = super fast

This could be fun thematically, as you can pressured to sprint your guys into the dark to avoid shots, but potentially run into more baddies. 

You could take it a step further and have things like:

-bonus penalty for ending on none stationary states

-have a frozen in running animation (or no animation keep the unit frozen in a sprinting state) though would be tricky to not look funny.....Although this could have the opposite (scary or intense effect) I can imagine just freezing creature's animation, indicating that their just careening towards you. Melee units can actually factor speed into their damage (collision) as well as give a bonus for next turn's movement. Basically a collision system.

Depending on how smooth running animations are, you would ideally want them to look good when frozen. Might not be that fun, but it's an option

Lollash posted this 28 August 2017

UnstableVoltage said:

Lollash said:

An idea that I had (having played 1000's of hours of the various iterations of XCOM) which addresses some of the thematic simulation issues is to have stacking accuracy bonuses when firing at the same location. A soldier might be inaccurate with their first burst but if they fire at the same location again they are much more likely to able to compensate.

Hey Lollash, good to see you here.

I actually really like this idea - that aim should increase over time from a static position (especially for snipers). But thematically, didn't XCom already do this of sorts? "Steady Aim" is taking an extra turn to make sure you have a higher chance of hitting on the next. Also, "Snapshot" for the sniper, allow them to fire after moving for an aim penalty (sort of working in the opposite direction to what you're saying, but I think thematically the same). Still, it would be interesting to have it as a passive mechanic.

I am always watching. You are right in that the recent XCOM titles have had aim mechanics that increase the shot accuracy by losing an action (particularly in the LW mods) but these have always felt bad for me. Mathematically, 2 shots of >half the boosted accuracy are better than a single more accurate shot because of the way probability works. That means that an aim mechanic that takes actions has to either boost your accuracy by INSANE amounts, or its only benefit is conservation of ammo. The reason I think a passive tightening of accuracy would be great is you never "waste" a turn aiming, only to not have a shot; you dont have to balance aim in an unreasonable manner; you "feel" your soldiers zero'ing in on a target which scratches a realism itch and makes you feel less bad about misses and with the modelled ballistics of PP, your groupings get tighter and so even after a hit you know your next burst might land more rounds, increasing damage output. 

This all comes from a theoretical standpoint, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about design (it was once a career i considered pursuing) and I think it would be an elegant, easy to implement solution that leans towards realism/simulation, is easy to explain and present to a player and would be fun to watch happen. It also serves a great purpose of alleviating some edge case RNG from flat out breaking the game, and makes sure the pacing of the game stays snappy. After all, nowadays you arent just competing for a players money, you are also competing for a players time. And thats way harder to manage

SpiteAndMalice posted this 29 August 2017

  • A simple way to introduce movement speed to any 'to hit' calculations could be via the overwatch mechanic. That's the point where one character is definitely in motion whilst other characters are shooting at them.

Between turns, the difficult question is; how do you know whether a character is still in the process of moving, or whether they've reached their destination? I suppose you could still consider a charcter to be in motion if their movement path spans multiple turns, but then does the player loses the option to recalculate and change direction/stop a charcter from one turn to the next?

  • For cover, a nice thing to see could be something where the character's size and/or the bulkiness of their equipment is a factor in deciding how will they can conceal themselves. A smaller charcter with lighter equipment might be better at remaining hidden, whereas a larger charcter who has the strength to carry a heavier load struggles to remain hidden.

  • Regards the player being able to calculate their average damage output, I'm with Mazy, in that I don't think a player should be able to see that info, it's not realistic. Personally I'd only include this if it's as part of an easy/tutorial mode. Or maybe as a result of the player having developed a type of targetting computer via research (and which would then take space/weight in any character's inventory that is using that equipment.

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kompan posted this 29 August 2017

Perhaps the game can offer the "realistic mode". When enabled, your machine gun would be described just as "high damage, medium accuracy, chance of incendiary effect" The enemies would not have the visible health bars or icons with buffs and debuffs. And when shooting you would not see the numeric damage - you could estimate that the attack was successful only by detailed visuals - when the enemy is bleeding, burning, has been crippled, got limbs blown off, or just immune to your puny pistols and laughing.

I guess it could be difficult at first, but fun to explore strengths and weaknesses of new mutant types this way. And doing autopsies, researching targeting aims and equipping squad with weapons designed against specific enemies that may be present on the mission (but less effective against other types) may help too.

Dragonfire posted this 30 August 2017

Wow i just got into these forums and i find one post which allows me to understand how well is the game being developed!

First thoughts on this version of first aim mechanic is: i love it. It absolutely have the potential to allow the same level of tactical immersion of the first xcom titles (especially if firing at terrain features is a possibility).

For the issues:

1) Dont worry about providing expected damages or hit probabilities. A probability circle feels quite good for me and even the most inexperienced players can understand that if you have something between your target and the bullet, maybe you wont likely hit him (or it). This is not something that a good tutorial cant fix for newcomers in this game typology.

2) I think the major issue (limited to inexperienced players) is the risk of slowing the game too much, some players may not like it. This is a type of game which is often enjoyed as a slow tactical game (and personally i would alwais use the manual aiming) but i think a "fast aim option" should be offered. How should this option work i cant say properly cause i dont know the workloads behind aiming algorithms. However an inexperienced player is hardly going to notice the difference between firing a weapon optimized for hitting the exposed areas of the target or firing a weapon aimed exactly at the center of the target (if he is smart enough to notice, he is going to use manual aiming). Such difference could only be felt if the game tramples the player (and so it becomes an issue of balancing and difficulty settings). Furthermore if i am not mistaken (but i must check) a lot of players are accustomed to firaxis first person aim which aims at the center of targets.

Suggestions:

1) Just set the system to automatically aim at center and leave a toggle option for free aiming mode.

2) an option to take into consideration if an aiming algorithm is established could be to avoid going into first person mode and shoot directly at the target. This is to avoid that the new player to sees the game aiming at a place different than the target center and therefore thinking the game is bugged. In this case leave a toggle option that enables first person free aim.

2) allow first person free aiming mode even in the absence of enemy targets in order to allow aiming at terrain features or guessed targets behind the mist/out of LOS (i dont know if this was already intended but it is a feature that players in this type of game will absolutely love).

I sincerely hope that this reply is usefull!

 

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