Will the world scale? If so, how much?

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  • Last Post 20 September 2017
Dark_Ansem posted this 19 July 2017

I'm wondering if PP will fall into the XCOM pitfall, so similar to Elder Scrolls Oblivion: does the world scale constantly with you? So, like in Oblivion, you end up fighting bandits in Daedric armor all the time? And in XCOM eventually all enemies have plasma weapons?

 

Or there is a limit to scaling?

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woah77 posted this 19 July 2017

They've explained that enemies will evolve over time. Will they "scale"? I don't know, but it sounds like the virus will try to vary tactics and evolutions based upon your own strategies.

Dark_Ansem posted this 19 July 2017

So we are bound to ever-growing difficulty?

CaptainGeneral posted this 19 July 2017

woah77 said:They've explained that enemies will evolve over time. Will they "scale"? I don't know, but it sounds like the virus will try to vary tactics and evolutions based upon your own strategies.

For the mist enemies that sounded really interesting if they can get them to evolve and adapt to your play. Sounds quite challenging from an AI dev point of view. As for the more humanoid factions I'd prefer they were more a strategic threat with increased attacks and regularity than the scaling that Ansem described. 

 

Dark_Ansem posted this 19 July 2017

I should clarify that I am talking about difficulty - not variety.

CaptainGeneral posted this 19 July 2017

Dark_Ansem said:

I should clarify that I am talking about difficulty - not variety.

So are we I think.

 

Ped posted this 20 July 2017

Dark_Ansem said:

I'm wondering if PP will fall into the XCOM pitfall

I'm not sure it's a pitfall? If the enemies didn't get tougher, then the game would just get easier and easier as you progressed, which means if you beat the first mission few missions then you can basically walk the rest of the game. 

I suppose difficulty could be increased in other ways such as more enemies instead of tougher ones, but if you can one shot anything and a single grenade could wipe out a large batch of enemies then the game would be too easy. 

I've found this on most of my XCOM playthroughs, if you get through the first few missions the rest is plain sailing, if anything I don't think XCOM cranks up the difficulty enough. 

Dark_Ansem posted this 20 July 2017

It's ridiculous if they only keep stronger and stronger equally throughout the world for every mission. Some of them should cap to certain tiers of equipment and strength.

woah77 posted this 20 July 2017

Well we know the humans will get more and more advanced tech as the game progresses as well. So I'm unsure what you mean by scaling, but you won't be fighting the same guys with the same equipment halfway through the game as you were at the start.

Dark_Ansem posted this 20 July 2017

woah77 said:

Well we know the humans will get more and more advanced tech as the game progresses as well. So I'm unsure what you mean by scaling, but you won't be fighting the same guys with the same equipment halfway through the game as you were at the start.

Scaling in terms of difficulty = progressive difficulty

 

woah77 posted this 20 July 2017

Yes, that is a confirmed part of the game.

Dark_Ansem posted this 20 July 2017

Too bad.

Ped posted this 20 July 2017

A thematic reason for the aliens becoming stronger could simply be the longer they are exposed to the mist the more mutated/stronger they become. 

Also in XCOM you generally get a choice of going on Easy/Moderate missions, which as you progress become moderate/difficult then difficult/very difficult. In this way you can choose to some degree how difficult the game is in the short term, however constantly picking the easy option will make the game slightly more difficult in the long run, or at least you have to weigh up the possible advantages of additional items/xp against getting your guys killed. 

But the game should get more challenging the longer it goes on surely?

Dark_Ansem posted this 20 July 2017

Within reason. It doesn't make sense if the entire world becomes challenging

woah77 posted this 20 July 2017

Why not? Everyone else is fighting the same virus mutations you are. They're all going to grow and adapt along with you.

Ped posted this 20 July 2017

ok, fair enough, I think I see what you're saying. Have a different rate of development around globe (possibly depending on exposure to mist) or in terms of other havens if they get hit hard near the start of the game they may operate 'a few levels' lower than those that have done well from the start so would present less of a challenge. 

assuming we can choose where on the globe to strike you could choose to hit a less developed area to give your troops a relative breather and a few easy wins while you maybe waited for some key guys to recover etc

CaptainGeneral posted this 20 July 2017

Well Phoenix point is an organization that's presumably been inactive for some time until your cell is activated, so the more you push against the mist and it's denizens the more they try to counter you. Same with dealing with the other factions. Honestly if the game doesn't get more difficult the longer it goes on then they've done something terribly wrong.

Dark_Ansem posted this 20 July 2017

@Ped correct. I want to avoid the Oblivion syndrome, where every bandit lategame had endgame stuff. Exploitable and ridiculolus.

CaptainGeneral posted this 21 July 2017

Dark_Ansem said:@Ped correct. I want to avoid the Oblivion syndrome, where every bandit lategame had endgame stuff. Exploitable and ridiculolus

 

Well there's strategic and tactical difficulty, both of which should increase in a game like this unless you want an 'I win' button. Given the nature of the game, strategic difficulty would be my preferred focus especially if you are initially a small nuisance that is mostly ignored in the early game. The aliens and hostile factions take notice of you and counter you with more frequency and determination rather than having their troops more kitted out, but this depends on whether they themselves have tech trees and research. The oblivion-like scaling is more likely in the case of the latter. 

woah77 posted this 21 July 2017

The real question is: Will the enemy scale exactly when I do or will it scale in reaction and independently? What has been said so far suggests that the enemies are going to developing all on their own, and that their "scaling" will be independent of your currently equipment/power level.

Dark_Ansem posted this 29 July 2017

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LevelScaling

 

Look at the Oblivion entry.

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SpiteAndMalice posted this 29 July 2017

The thought I have in my mind when I envisage the AI in PP is that it's going to be behaving in way very similar to nature, in particular natural selection, as it responds to the player's actions. 

I imagine it being similar to how a disease will gradually resistant to certain anti-biotics, or how rats might become immune to rat poison. It's not the individual bacteria or animal that becomes stronger in response to that human created weapon, but rather the species as a whole. 

As such, if the AI in PP were to work this way, then it should by rights be become naturally more difficult as the game progresses whether artificial scaling is present or not. 

If scaling is present, I'm wondering whether the devs might use a system whereby individual alien builds are allocated a threat value (based on their performance against the player) and then the overall sum of threat values might increase (or decrease) based on the player's overall performance within the game.

If threat values are used, then the strength and scope of alien builds present within a given mission could very greatly, for example; In a mission where the overall threat value is 100, the player could encounter 100 creatures with a threat value or 1, or just 1 creature with a threat value of 100. 

You could even have some scouting in place to give the player an idea of what will be waiting at one mission location or another - "Which would you rather fight commander; 100 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck?" 

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Julian Gollop posted this 29 July 2017

I prefer a more AI driven scaling system that keeps the challenge level roughly constant over time (with some peaks and troughs to mix things up a little). There are many ways to do this, and I think an approach which is less immersion breaking is better. In the case of Phoenix Point, success on the battlefield vs aliens causes mutation. Success against other factions will drive their tech research efforts, drive them together diplomatically and make them adjust the battlefield strategies. There will be other systems too, but I think these will be the main ones.

Dark_Ansem posted this 29 July 2017

Julian Gollop said:

I prefer a more AI driven scaling system that keeps the challenge level roughly constant over time (with some peaks and troughs to mix things up a little). There are many ways to do this, and I think an approach which is less immersion breaking is better. In the case of Phoenix Point, success on the battlefield vs aliens causes mutation. Success against other factions will drive their tech research efforts, drive them together diplomatically and make them adjust the battlefield strategies. There will be other systems too, but I think these will be the main ones.

Thank you for your insightful answers

GrumpyMel posted this 09 August 2017

I kind of get what Dark_Ansem is saying. If the A.I. difficulty scales exactly in response to the characters progression.... then you don't actually have progression, just the illusion of it. The attack and defense numbers may get larger in raw terms, but the ratio stays the same so it's pretty much irrelevent.

In this case, nothing the player achieves actually matters much until the final battle because nothing the player does improves their odds of success as the A.I. will adjust to negate any advancements they might have had.

 

By contrast, if the A.I. sort of has it's own organic curve in which it's capabilties grow over time, at least somewhat independantly of the players and it's possible for the player to get somewhat ahead of or behind that curve (or to slow down the A.I.'s curve), then the decisions the player makes and the things they are able to achieve along the path to the end game actually matter to their ultimate success or failure.

That doesn't mean that the A.I. might not start throwing more of it's resources at the player, as the player becomes more of an obvious threat.... but that the resources it has available to throw, are at least in part dictated by the players actions and his success or failure against the A.I.

To me it's the difference between a themepark ride and a strategy game.

 

 

 

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Dark_Ansem posted this 09 August 2017

GrumpyMel said:

I kind of get what Dark_Ansem is saying. If the A.I. difficulty scales exactly in response to the characters progression.... then you don't actually have progression, just the illusion of it. The attack and defense numbers may get larger in raw terms, but the ratio stays the same so it's pretty much irrelevent.

In this case, nothing the player achieves actually matters much until the final battle because nothing the player does improves their odds of success as the A.I. will adjust to negate any advancements they might have had.

By contrast, if the A.I. sort of has it's own organic curve in which it's capabilties grow over time, at least somewhat independantly of the players and it's possible for the player to get somewhat ahead of or behind that curve (or to slow down the A.I.'s curve), then the decisions the player makes and the things they are able to achieve along the path to the end game actually matter to their ultimate success or failure.

That doesn't mean that the A.I. might not start throwing more of it's resources at the player, as the player becomes more of an obvious threat.... but that the resources it has available to throw, are at least in part dictated by the players actions and his success or failure against the A.I.

To me it's the difference between a themepark ride and a strategy game.

 As I said: bandits in Oblivion wearing full sets of Daedric Armor.

Vathar posted this 09 September 2017

One should never take a Bethesda game as an example for game balance.

Level scaling Elder Scrolls style is moronic to the extreme. A mob's level shouldn't scale with the player to provide an equal challenge at every point of the game. A hungry wolf could be a threat to a starting adventurer, but should be trivial to the "chosen one with uber gear and stats" he's become by end game. The end boss shouldn't be beatable by a rookie adventurer either just because he cheesed his way to it, making sure both the player and the end boss are level 1.

That is the absurdity of Bethesda games, a 100% dynamic scaling that leads to aberrations and has no place in a balanced game.

 

Now let's look at XCOM's static scaling : A game should become more challenging as it progresses, and Firaxis' XCOM "reverse difficulty curve" is a tad annoying on that score. Their scaling is almost entirely based on time passed. New/upgraded enemies appear at set dates no matter what the player does. This can lead to three outcomes :

- Player's skill matches the game's difficulty and he stays within the danger zone, keeping up with enemy upgrades without getting an edge. This can lead to constant challenging gameplay. An ideal case that doesn't seem to happen very often.

- Player skill is below what is required for chosen difficulty. If he doesn't improve, he will start taking losses, failing missions and entering a downward spiral leading to a game over. I have no issue with that, being an old school gamer who thinks not every game should be won.

- Player skill is above chosen difficulty. He will start to snowball and the rest of the game will turn into a boring victory lap.

So yeah, I like XCOM but static scaling isn't the answer either. 

 

 

You can combine both, and it's been done quite successfully on the Long War mod, that was building on the linear progression of Firaxis XCOM EW game, while adding an impact from the player's action on this progression. Running successful missions against the aliens would slow them down, but also piss them off and drive them to run more aggressive missions (terrors, bombing, UFO traps) instead of harvesting/gathering ones.

It made sense thematically and worked reasonably well considering it was, after all, merely a mod.

 

 

Mazy posted this 09 September 2017

I agree, the Long War mods are really good at re-balancing the game in key areas, It's cool how the devs (of the vanilla versions of XCOM) endorse the use of LW to it's players to. 

 

I think any mechanics that 'force' squad rotation (e.g, soldier fatigue) are among the best ways of solving various snowballing issues in Xcom style games (plus having to use a more varied roster of soldiers from mission to mission is just more interesting in general).

 

There are plenty of ways for PP to improve upon the scaling methods used in previous Xcom games. Here's an interesting blog related to this...  http://www.pentadact.com/2016-02-25-solving-xcoms-snowball-problem/

Anjovi posted this 10 September 2017

If you want another good example of creating more  varied and interesting gameplay, look no further then chaos reborn.

Although the realms mode strategy layer in the game is very rudimentary, the nature of the game which is based around randomized decks of spells always creates different gameplay outcomes. Sometimes RNG reinforcements that get plunked on your foes will do carry the same effect.

I feel you just don't want the strategy aspect of the game to get bogged down by the features that encourage varied tactical level gameplay. The creatures and spells are so varied and at the same time have many different ways to utilize them based on the scenario were it becomes more of just learning to intuit the ins and outs of each unit. 

I'm not sure how to translate this dynamic to an xcom like game. Squad rotation is one, but i wonder if theirs an even better solution.

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Comes Moesia posted this 13 September 2017

Best example for this should be X-Piratez. Bandit is Bandit in end-game and at start. Ratmen also. Ratmen might get Reaper calvary but that is not the same as giving everyone power armor and plasma weapons. Problem in XCom (remakes) is that soldiers scale to infinity and beyond. What the hell is a "ability"? Killing opponent somehow breaks time-space continuum and doesn't cost time? Holo-targeting is achieved by attaching holo-targeter on your gun or carrying it in your hand, not becoming Field-Marshall. Solution to the problem is to adjust scaling of soldiers and not giving them superpowers through perks. That is exact reason you think that Xcom has weak scaling, but try late-game mission with rookies and you will be sent back with empty Skyranger. But why, they have the same gear, they are finest soldiers of Earth? In old X-com it did not calculate cover yet I knew better than in new when I am going to hit. Guess what, defense stat is cheat, as unless you are hallucinating, wounded or something, you will hit target 2 meters in front of you, hovering still outside of cover every time. If you full-auto (and XCom soldiers ALWAYS full-auto) not with every bullet, but you WILL hit. Event if you can see just head. If its fast moving head ok, you can miss. Here, i gave you everything I could think of. Soldiers might get better at shooting, aiming faster or better, "learn" to carry heavier or more complex gun, might train to use some auxiliary gear like climbing rope or bayonet or even rocket luncher, and most of this you can use without training, you just get better, except maybe medkit, some types of rocket luncher, but cant learn to make pistols more damaging or grenades explode in larger area. And carrying one more medkit or rocket is not skill. Seriously. Don't turn this into skill escalation fest. We have tech, squad sizes, classes and gear and weapon types, enemy numbers and types and stealth for that. Even mission conditions, but this should not be abused like in Xcom 2 where I have to really leg it without Faction Order that gives me 2 more turns. Please, devs, please, read this. I would buy ticket to Sofia or wherever and explain it in detail if necessary. We do not need ability escalation and full enemy and neutral rearmament. There should be some easy missions late game, and few harder missions early. DIFFICULTY OF MISSIONS MUST NOT INCREASE BY FUNCTION, BUT MUST VARY. Think of it as FUNCTION WITH STATIC ADDED. Once more, devs, please read this. I don't need another turn based Dota... Real missions don't just all get harder by same degree. If I see one house village with 3 people in it, don't escalate it to 20 150 meter robots, because I found how to make repeater crossbow. Missions (fancy word for tactical battles) must vary in content and difficulty, or you will get same thing like in XCom, where I have x mutons, y sectopods, and z Etherials in all missions, but I can get them in snow or in woods or in city. Devs, I will be honest. I can see that you invested your heart in this game, and got so many details right, but if you don't improve core in comparison to XCom, but just details, many people will just go back to OpenXcom with amazing modding community. My final advice in this post for you, devs, is to check it out, as Dioxine and the rest are your real competition. You are not fighting remakes, you are fighting originals, and its mods. Being more detailed Xcom means little. I know its tough, but its really tough love and honesty. Hoping and praying for your success, Snapshot. If Julian reads this, thanks for all amazing hours I spent struggling with Terror from the deep along with my friends, it was very hard game for 8 years old that doesn't speak English, but one that definitely hoked me for life. I like it more than first to this day. I'm odd one, I know.

Vathar posted this 19 September 2017

Comes Moesia said:

Problem in XCom (remakes) is that soldiers scale to infinity and beyond. What the hell is a "ability"? Killing opponent somehow breaks time-space continuum and doesn't cost time? Holo-targeting is achieved by attaching holo-targeter on your gun or carrying it in your hand, not becoming Field-Marshall.

Maybe using a holo targeter requires dedicated training, or holo targeters are in limited supply, or tactics doctrine dictates that a given squad member is affected to holo-duty of whatever. I don't mind a limited skill tree and some mild artificial limitations (emphasis on mild) as long as it balances gameplay.

i want abilities to enhance the tactical game, not dominate it. Relying on high level troops with crazy abilities means losing them hurts more than it should and creates a risk averse environment as lower level troops will struggle to catch up or be useless.

Solution to the problem is to adjust scaling of soldiers and not giving them superpowers through perks. That is exact reason you think that Xcom has weak scaling, but try late-game mission with rookies and you will be sent back with empty Skyranger.

Scaling is relative. If enemies becomes twice as powerful but you become ten times as powerful, that is weak scaling I agree with you about superpowers. I want abilities to fill niche and open new strategies without being indispensable tools of mass murder.

But why, they have the same gear, they are finest soldiers of Earth? In old X-com it did not calculate cover yet I knew better than in new when I am going to hit. Guess what, defense stat is cheat, as unless you are hallucinating, wounded or something, you will hit target 2 meters in front of you, hovering still outside of cover every time. If you full-auto (and XCom soldiers ALWAYS full-auto) not with every bullet, but you WILL hit. Event if you can see just head. If its fast moving head ok, you can miss.

That's another argument entirely, but we have to bear in mind that a turn based game can't convey the mess of a firefight with alien monsters. the screen may show static things but what would happen in real time is messier, a LOT messier. Shooting happens simultaneously so while you shoot at this alien he may be shooting back, or there may be explosions, distractions, moving shadows, so even a close range burst may miss or just graze an armored body part. I don't mind that but it's another argument entirely

Here, i gave you everything I could think of. Soldiers might get better at shooting, aiming faster or better, "learn" to carry heavier or more complex gun, might train to use some auxiliary gear like climbing rope or bayonet or even rocket luncher, and most of this you can use without training, you just get better, except maybe medkit, some types of rocket luncher, but cant learn to make pistols more damaging or grenades explode in larger area. And carrying one more medkit or rocket is not skill.

I'm not super fond of class restricted weaponry either, within limits.

- Sometimes it makes sense, when really specific gear, like a psi amp for psi soldiers or a gremlin hacking drone for trained specialists. 

- Sometimes it doesn't, like the sniper losing the ability to use standard rifle. A rookie can use it but when he's promoted to sniper he loses the ability to?!?

I'm mostly happy when other game mechanics create logical restrictions, for instance when your R&D gets you new fancy guns in limited supply, you're more likely to give them to the soldiers who would benefit most from them 

And when it comes to justifying the benefits from a skills, there's a lot that can be done to explain its in game impact. You say a skill can't make a pistol do more damage, but think about long war's Vital Point Targeting skill. It gives you additional damage on enemies that have been autopsied. It's not an absurd justification and doesn't bother me. 

In a game with limited stats like xcom, being able to carry additional gear through skills is a necessity to make up for the fact that soldiers don't have strength or stamina skills. Additional inventory space can to some extent reflect physical training. 

To be honest, these skills aren't the source of XCOM's imbalance, whereas late game chain kill skills or over the top psionic powers are a different issue entirely.

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Comes Moesia posted this 20 September 2017

Well, my comment is very messy indeed. I said everything that was on my mind, so there is a lot. Also, train of thought can deviate a bit in 2 hours I spent writing this. Ok, so, first off, I do like class restricted weapons and gear, I like it a lot, but it has to be within reason. Classes in normal human way means trained for specific gear or specialization. You actually said way better than me. I prefer how thing were if Firefall. Soldiers had limited access to class-specific gear, but anyone can use grenade or assault rifle. Maybe some specific armor type cant use some specific weapon, like some heavy armor unable to handle pistols, or extra heavy weapons not available without said heavy armor. Psi amp is great example and so is the sniper unable to use assault rifle. What I would do is create class specific snipers (not scoped rifles, but dedicated sniper rifles), allow snipers to use normal rifles still, but unable to use it for precision and long range firing. Simply, limit ability use with gear and specialization training, not other way around. Abilities filing niche sounds about right. Squardsight and High Ground are good examples, double tap, executioner and one that makes shot free in times units is bad example. Ideas like entrenchment for heavy, jump pack for some assault class etc. could work. Also, I think there should be class specific armor, so you don't get Xcom 2 grappling Wraith heavies and ultra tanky WAR armored snipers. Your first paragraph is so on point devs should print it out and hang it in studio. Except holo-targeter part, as its literally aiming at opponent and it could be handled as weapon module at best. You could say, and it would be stretch, that its large and bulky, and can only be attached on heavy weapons, but that would limit it to heavies, not exclude shooting before running, at best, it may disallow usage of weapon coolers and decrease numbers of bullets fired. I disagree with point of its turn-based it's different in real time, as at one meter or less, movement can excuse missing body part, not missing human sized opponent. And many times you will attach without moving your guys for some time, hell, even aliens not moving. Its simple calculation to subtract movement from accuracy, as it uses not even radius, but mere traveled path. Limited carry weight is moot point when you have unlimited ammo and armor upgrade that gives you one more slot, which is stupid in itself, as undershirt and grenade go to different places entirely and carry weight stat would be a piece of cake to code. I'm not talking about balance only, but about immersion, too. When time comes, I will except compromises, but I would like a bit less of them than in Xcom. Few of these things would not be too hard to implement, and could improve the game a lot.

Comes Moesia posted this 20 September 2017

Julian Gollop said:

I prefer a more AI driven scaling system that keeps the challenge level roughly constant over time (with some peaks and troughs to mix things up a little). There are many ways to do this, and I think an approach which is less immersion breaking is better. In the case of Phoenix Point, success on the battlefield vs aliens causes mutation. Success against other factions will drive their tech research efforts, drive them together diplomatically and make them adjust the battlefield strategies. There will be other systems too, but I think these will be the main ones.

So, if I keep losing, aliens won't get stronger? If player and AI get stronger at same rate, research and training don't do anything, I would be literally making my opponents stronger. Maybe make that optional, and make disconnected alien and NP human progress another option. Shouldn't be to hard to program simple time-based progress or maybe tying it to virus progress. I personally would not want aliens not evolving because I lose battles or I don't research interceptor or body armor or something. Nor do I want uber op army of aliens because I keep wining, or worse, because I rushed some research. Its atrocious thing, as I actually would not be able to back it up, as I have nothing else, but one rushed project. It's good system, don't get me wrong, but it should be marginal, not in full control of game. I have seen it ruin games, thats all I'm saying.

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