The problems we want to resolve: •Different damage types aren't explained to the player. •The differences between weapons aren't explained to the player. •The differences between enemy and mutation types aren't always obvious. Our broad solution: •Present the player with more detailed tutorials/onboarding of concrete mechanics. •Allow players to get the feeling of weapons, skills, and enemies in isolation. •Allow players to engage in mindless fun (since ammo & health are no issue). A training Gym represents a simplified playable level which contains ONE single key element. The entire environment is white (“VR look”) with only the focused characters and items (chests) in-game textures. Player characters have endless ammo and cannot get their health under 30%. Player WP and AP are restored to full at the start of every player turn. Explanation texts are displayed on the side of the map, explaining the actions/mechanics/items similar to the tutorial display. Players can go to the next and previous parts of the explanation texts, or close (or open) the window entirely. Each training Gym is triggered by an event (new technology researched/new item seen) after which it can be accessed from the PHOENIXPEDIA (TBD). The player must manually choose to leave the gym (there are no loss conditions) (TBD). Details •The player can use any equipment that is currently researched or unlocked). •The gym can have any enemy the player has encountered. •The player can manually reset the simulation.
Improve Scavenging Missions
The problems we want to resolve: •Protecting crates can feel a bit random. - The player often does not feel rewarded for actual good gameplay, but the luck of deployment. •Pandorans destroying crates makes some sense, but not for other factions. •The AI does not manage target prioritisation well between attacking crates and enemies. •The intended risk/reward balance needs improving. •They feel like the usual ‘kill all enemies’ mission. •Scavenging missions can get tedious and repetitive. - They were intended as an early game source of resources, but they are actually discovered throughout the gameplay as you explore. We have a number of broad solutions, and could possibly implement one or more of them. Solution 1 •Soldiers need to go to crates and collect the resources from them. - They pick up a resource item and carry it. •They can evacuate any time with what they have. - There are multiple evacuation points to make this easier. •Enemies have infinite reinforcements. •Enemies don’t attack crates. Why these changes? •Risk/reward balance now has player agency. •Actually feels more like a scavenging mission. •Makes the mission type much more distinctive. Solution 2 •Add new mission types for scavenging sites. •Retrieve vehicle. - A vehicle is deployed in the level (enemies to the intruders, neutral to Phoenix). - You must get a soldier to the vehicle to take control of it. - Then evacuate with all soldiers (on the far side of the map). •Rescue soldiers. - A small group of 1-3 independent soldiers is fighting against enemy attack. - Get to them to take direct control of them. - Then evacuate with the whole squad. - The soldiers join Phoenix. Solution 3 – Upgrade Scavenging Sites •At a certain time in the game, scavenging sites are upgraded. •The threat level increases by 1. •The rewards are higher. •Add mutagen crates •The map tilesets are different. Solution 4 •Place crates near your soldiers’ deployment. •Becomes a protect crates mission. •Kill all enemies.
Pandoran Research System
The problems we want to resolve: •The lack of alien upgrades/evolution means that players can face large numbers of grunt type Pandorans. - This doesn’t make it more challenging - just make them feel more like a grind and forces alpha strike tactics. •Alien evolution system creates bullet spongey aliens, but without interesting new abilities. •Players don’t have a sense of Pandorans adapting to their tactics. Our broad solutions: •Pandorans have their own research tree. - Buffs to existing Pandoran archetypes. - Unlocks new body parts. - Unlocks new base types. - Buffs the alien mist (Geoscape and tactical). - Buffs alien bases. •Research choice based on specific triggers. - E.g. a certain number of panicked Arthrons unlocks the ‘Arthrons immune to panic’ buff. •The player gets feedback on the Pandoran progression. - Intelligence reports. )‘Our analysis of recent Pandoran activity shows that Chirons are now resistant to blast damage’). - The player has access to the current list of alien research so he knows what buffs/abilities are used. Research System •Uses the existing faction research system. - Priorities are assigned to each research item. •With the addition of special triggers to unlock some of the research. - Damage to each body part is recorded and unlocks each evolved body part. - Suffering an amount of damage of a certain type unlocks resistance and/or immunity for specific archetypes. (E.g. fire resistance, poison resistance, paralysis resistance, immune to mind control). - Additional abilities which create some more specialisation. * Tritons develop increased perception, accuracy. * Arthrons get more HPs, melee damage bonus, poison damage added to melee. * Siren develops WP regeneration. Mist Buffs •Geoscape mist increases its infection rate. - Population loss increased. •Geoscape mist increases its Haven infiltration. - More mist blobs generated in Haven defence missions. •Tactical mist gains buffs. - Increases its WP penalty. - Adds physical damage. - Pandorans regain HPs inside the mist. - Pandorans regrow disabled limbs in mist. - Pandorans get frenzied in mist. Geoscape Buffs •Attack strength of specific Pandoran base types increased. •Nests develop an addition mutation type. •Citadels increase mist infection rates within their range. •Citadels prevent your soldiers from resting within their range (permanent nightmares). Pandoran Research Points •Use the existing evolution points system. o Pandorans gain a daily amount or research. o Bonus for losing a mission. o Bonus for losing bases. •Add some more effects. (E.g. Bonus for each haven in mist).
Diplomacy and Research Improvements
The problems we want to resolve: •There is not much feedback from the diplomacy system. - Things change at friendly, aligned and allied - but nothing is explained to the player. •Faction research is accessed in one big dump on reaching allied status. •The faction research dump is presented as research but is in fact free. - The player just clicks on each one in turn with no meaningful decisions involved. •There is often a point in the mid-game where the player doesn’t have any meaningful research choices. - Usually at the point where new research is unlocked through capturing live aliens or through the Phoenix story. •Faction missions to unlock the next diplomacy level are not directly connected. - It’s possible to complete the faction mission but not actually achieve the next diplomacy level which requires a specific diplomacy value. Our broad solution: •Explain clearly what benefits the player gets when a new diplomacy level is reached. - We should have a special player information feedback dialogue to explain game mechanics. •If the player gains a diplomacy bonus, but it is blocked due to faction mission not being completed, explain this to the player. •Give the player access to faction research progressively. - Link each research item to a diplomacy level e.g. at 25, 35, 45, 50, 65. - More progressive and frequent rewards provide a more satisfying feedback loop for the player. - Explain to the player when new research is unlocked, and what it is. •Faction research items still have research cost. - Proportional, based on diplomacy level e.g. 50% at friendly, 25% at aligned, 0% at allied. •When the next diplomacy level is unlocked, but not actually reached. - Give some feedback - e.g. ‘we are prepared to share more with you, but you have more to prove’.
Base Recruiting Soldiers
The problems we want to resolve: •The player can't currently get new recruits at the start of the game, meaning losses to initial forces are devastating. •The player cannot always get access to the classes they need to fill their roster. •Players don't know the details about a new recruit until they're hired. Our broad solution: Allow players to recruit at their own base. Recruiting at the base is linked to the ELEVATOR facility (required for recruits). •Recruits are hired with FOOD. •Recruits can be of ANY class. •Recruits have no equipment. •Recruits have a random name and appearance. •Optional: recruits can be up to level  (higher price). The player has a choice of 0 to 3 recruits to hire. Recruits are replaced every month (both type and number). •Recruit amount is based on the number of soldiers the player has. •Recruit faction is based on the faction and amount of Havens within range of that base. •Recruit class is based on facilities of the specific class. - Additionally, each time a class is skipped its chance to be selected is increased (so it is selected at some point). Simple Implementation •Can recruit whatever class Phoenix have unlocked. •[1-3] Recruits show up every 3 days. - Class random from available. - Replaces old recruits. - They have no equipment or armour. •Inspect their personal traits before recruiting. •Choose which base to deploy them. •Add the ability to dismiss soldiers.
Phoenix Base Defence Improvements
The problems we want to resolve: •Losing a base can be a dramatic loss. •Players have complained about being unable to reach their bases to defend them, despite increased warning time. Our broad solution •When an enemy attacks a base with defending soldiers, you have the option to abandon the base. - In this case all soldiers are re-assigned to the nearest base to their one. - You can only do this if you have another base. •When a base is attacked without soldiers, or is abandoned, the base is not destroyed. - Instead, all the facilities in the base are damaged by 40-80% of their current state. Why make these changes? •Base attacks are still a serious problem, but not game ending. •It solves one of the frustrations that players have frequently expressed.
Haven Defence Improvements
The problems we want to resolve: •Haven defence missions don’t look like a battle has been taking place. •There's little variety in scenarios with elements triggered by Geoscape state. •There are no defenders in Havens. Our broad solution: Initial Destruction •Depending on how long the battle has been raging in the Geoscape, add some destruction to the map. •Detonate powerful explosions at a random point in the map (this happens before the mission starts and is designed not to interfere with key structures or deployment zones). Initial Mist Blobs •If the haven is within the mist, generate 1-3 random mist blobs. - Pick a random location and propagate mist 3-5 times. - Don’t allow players deployment area to be covered. Haven Defenders •Depending on the Geoscape strength of Haven defence, deploy 1-4 haven defenders. •They operate as an allied force hostile to Pandorans. - Unless haven leader hates Phoenix, in which case they are hostile to Phoenix too. •The player can ‘recruit’ the soldier to his squad by moving next to them. - Same mechanic as civilians. •At the end of the battle, a surviving Haven defender may volunteer to join Phoenix.
Phoenix Bases and Exploration
The problems we want to resolve: •Base discovery is random, and they're not always usefully positioned. •Exploration can become repetitive, and bases have little impact on it. Our broad solution •The player will know the location of other Phoenix bases, and they can be activated remotely or by aircraft. - The first couple of bases can be activated remotely, with the AIs taking control. - Subsequent bases may be "infested" and the player has to send a squad to clear the base of Pandorans / bandits / Forsaken / Pure. - An activated base may have some facilities, but they would all need repair. •Why these changes? - Gives the player a strategic choice. He can start building a base in an area he wants to defend or explore. - Also allows for better strategic positioning for repairing, resting and healing. - Removes the randomness from the base acquisition. - The bases also become a key factor in exploration. Bases and Exploration •When an uplink in a base is built or repaired it begins scanning with increasing range, revealing sites as it expands. •Pandoran bases (as well as scavenging, haven and exploration sites), are located this way. - The player still has to explore each individual site to see what it is. Organic Exploration •Reintroduce the old organic exploration system. - Contacting a haven will reveal nearby havens and scavenging sites. (Biased towards havens of the same faction.) •Remove the active scanning altogether. Why make these changes? •It’s easier for the player to manage. •The focus on base-level scanning and organic exploration complement each other. •Bases become more important, especially for finding Pandoran bases. •Current exploration gives too many choices.
Improve Lairs and Citadels
The problems we want to resolve: •Lair missions have a lot of complaints (mainly due to difficulty). •Citadels also have complaints about being too easy, relative to Lairs. •The Lair and Citadel missions are supposed to be interesting and exciting missions - the ultimate before the final mission. They need some interesting, unique features and some variety. Our broad solution: •Rework level design to support playability, difficulty and mission objectives. •Improve mission design and objectives. •Add some interesting features unique to these environments. Lairs •Improve deployment. - Fewer reinforcements, limit the number of Sirens. - Place reinforcement points close to player deployment to encourage movement into the zone. •Modify the objective. - Destroy the Spawner with an injector bomb, then evacuate squad within the time limit (extraction point located beyond the Spawner) before Spawner explodes in poisonous viral mist. - Hero plot for Spawner (will make the Spawner easier to see). •Simplify the layout. - Remove lower level pits and remove some clutter - make the maps a bit more open. - Create some occasional cover elements to protect against Chirons. - Place occasional sniper tower. Citadels •Queen's throne. - Can heal the queen •Create more variety of layouts. •Add destructible Spawners that can spawn 1x1 units, until destroyed. Supplemental Ideas •Healing pools. - Healing pools for small aliens (destructible). •Goo traps. •Alien turrets (activated by proximity).
Event Based Tutorial
The problems we want to resolve: •The current tutorial is very bare-bones and fails to introduce many key aspects of gameplay to the player. Our broad solutions: •Improve the new game tutorial introduction missions. •Provide an in-game, context-sensitive tutorial which introduces new gameplay elements to the player as they're encountered. When these events occur: •The first time an alien uses an ability/weapon type. - Interrupt after action completed. - When a new ability or weapon is used. - Sentinel/egg preparing. •The first time an effect is applied to your soldiers. - Start of the player turn. - Status effects - panic, mind control, bleeding, poison, virus, acid, paralysis. - Stealth - with infiltrator. - Return fire. - Overwatched. •Messages always appear, regardless of the tutorial. - Checkbox for ‘do not show me hints and tips anymore’. - Saved per campaign. •Pop-up icons which the player can choose to expand. We also want to provide players with more information the first time they encounter a new enemy for a number of reasons: •Display the diversity of enemies in the game. •Teach the basics of new game mechanics. •Set up player expectations. The pop-up appears at the start of tactical when a new creature/character is present. Only one pop-up can appear at a time! (The one which is considered the most dominant in the level). The pop-up contains •Character picture. •Name, Faction, Stats. •Key Ability 1. •Key Ability 2 (if present). •Relating Mechanic - explanation text relating to the Key abilities.