22 February 2013

X-com Multiplayer

This article is an addition to my main xcom remake documentation project found here

I never intended to take the multiplayer path for my own x-com remake. For me it was always meant to be single player, story based, open ended game. But after playing around 150 - 200 online ranked matches on the 2012 Firaixis remake of xcom for the ps3, i can say it was unbalanced but definitely fun until i figured out most of the builds were obsolete and there were only a few good builds that could be used for ranked games due to the point limit. Also the multiplayer never felt like x-com at all, but more like a deathmatch modification someone hastily made for the sake of it.

There was no way to customize game rules, (other than starting credits, turn lenght and map name - and need i say there are only 4 or 5 maps to pick from) using expensive units in ranked matches was a suicide due to poor balance of cost and efficiency of units, aliens were either too expensive or too useless (always a releif to see the opponent use thinman and floater in ranked games as they are a waste of money and squad members due to poor skills) Hell, there wasn't even a lobby for players to sit down and chat or something. This had me going on how a proper multiplayer version of the old 91 x-com could have been remade.

So how do i want my multiplayer? I guess the best should be to have a co-op geoscape mode for people who love the classic gameplay and there should be a deathmatch (or even better, a team deathmatch) mode where people can go head to head.

Co-Op Geoscape Mode

This mode will allow the players to work as teams, building bases and producing stuff, and shooting down ufos around the globe, trying to save civilization from the blink of destruction. The whole game is similar to the single player experience but there can be 7 or so players each on a different continent as the starting location. Players can transfer technology and resources among themselves, support each other by sending squads to ufo crash sites and terror missions. All of these can be done in real time as the players will have a experience almost exactly like the single player version but with the aid of smarter human allies to back them up.

Some problems can be with in-game progress speed due to synchronization issues players cannot be allowed to go into fast forward mode to progress time. A way to handle this problem can be to shorten research and production times also ufo attacks can be more frequent and wounded soldiers can heal faster so players wont have to wait for ages to progress. A voting system can also be set so players can vote to increase or decrease game progress speed. 

Another problem can be with players attacking each other. Not sure if they should be allowed to attack or not. It may cause some problems when a player is in a crash sight fighting aliens and the other player tries to invade the first players base. Maybe there could be a counter that activates when a player invades another players base so the defender can have like 5 minutes to finish whatever he is doing and try to break the siege.

Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch Mode

This will be the mode to pick if the players want fast and furious mulitplayer combat instead of the classic co-op game. This will sound more like a list of what Firaxis forgot to do but my multiplayer deathmatch should have;

- Ability to pick between random map or ready made "ranked match" maps
- Ability to customize map size, and density of urban ares, forests, cover etc.
- Ability to land troops with a skyranger or deploy them one by one to certain areas of the map
- Ability to save and load various squad builds (how on earth they forgot to implement this in 2012)  
- Limited money to spend on units, weapons and armour
- Players buy units, units come with weapons but the player can change / buy additional weapons
- Ability to ban specific weapons or equipment (specially unbalanced stuff like the psi blasters)
- Ability to ban specific units (annoying ethereals or whatever people feel like banning)
- Different alien classes (sectoid scout with high speed, sectoid warrior with high accuracy etc.)
- A squad limit of 6 or 8 troops so people wont spam too many cheap units as scouts 

Players can have mixed squads of Aliens and X-com soldiers but unlike the 2012 remake, there are classes of different aliens with various changes in stats, player pays only to buy a member of the class (like a regular sectoid or a sectoid scout or a sectoid leader) and the unit comes unequipped. They will have to buy weapons and items separately for the units. Prices of units and equipment will take a well set of time and tests to balance.

On the other hand some players may find it annoying to hunt down weapons and items for each soldier so it does make sense to have weapons and equipment aligned to different classes. People can just pick the heavy soldier and every heavy soldier can come equipped with a heavy cannon and some grenades by default.  

Soldier - average soldier with average health and stats. all human classes can duck behind objects for cover.
Scout - good speed and high accuracy but low stats and health
Support - expensive, good health, decent stats
Assault - very expensive, good stats, good health 

Sectoid - cheap cost, low stats, no armour, all sectoid classes can duck behind objects for cover.

Scout -  cheap, high speed, even less accuracy, ideal for opening the map
Leader - expensive, has psi attacks but less accuracy

Floater - can fly, no armour
Sniper - high accuracy, ideal for rooftops
Medic - expensive, has medkit by default and better Hit points compared to the regular floaters

Snakeman - slow speed, good stats, can use all weapons, resistant to incendiary attacks
Drone - good armour
Tracker - high speed but less accuracy

Chryssalid: expensive, melee only, cannot use items, turns humans into zombies.
This bastard doesn't need any classes, its dangerous enough already :)

Muton: all Muton classes can duck behind objects for cover, can use all weapons
Soldier - expensive, well balanced stats
Heavy - very expensive, good armour and hit points but slow speed

Ethereal: expensive, can fly, can use all alien weapons, psi attack
Templar - very expensive, but less psi skills and higher armour and hit points.
Elder - very expensive, cannot use items or weapons, has high psi powers but low skills and hit points