The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

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junk
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The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by junk » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:21 pm

One of the greatest things that LW2 brought, after the squad system, was the ability to further customize and differentiate units using the AWC perk training trees; Turning a technical into a pistol slinging bad ass, or suddenly letting a specialist double duty as an ace in the hole single target killer. The flexibility and customization of the Perk Pack really brought a whole new dimension to how unit roles were defined and now with WotC's training system I think the options are even more incredible.

Bear with me, but I think that the whole idea of distinct soldier classes can take a back seat now to skill tree selection and development: Imagine this, the AWC allows you to designate a pool of abilities that can be researched and purchased and added as a 'hero row' of abilities to your soldiers, but not just traditional stuff like "Deep Cover" and "Run and Gun"; whole suites like - Allowed Primary weapon Cannon: with associated abilties like Shredder and Hail of Bullets available as researchable upgrades.

Rather than just hoping that your rookie with high dodge turns into a shinobi, you could send your squaddie to the AWC and have him train with a utility slot sword, and unlock the blademaster tree, or a group of related abilites. Even better would be eliminating the soldier class system entirely and make the entire ability slot system into 3 or 4 distinct paths that you have to unlock by sending your soldier in for training.

By default everyone would get an assault rifle, like a rookie, but jumping into a training center slot to learn how to use a sniper or a shotgun would be the first step, unlocking an upgrade path associated with that weapon. For example, your rookie earns a promotion, unlocking a simple XCom Tree of random abilities he can use to spend his Soldier AP and marginally improve, a vanilla resistance fighter with some cool abilities; but drop him into the AWC and have him train up on the Cannon and the Gremlin, and suddenly you've got a hybrid gunner/specialist like the Dragoon custom class ready to rock; stick him with your dude that learned swords and sniper rifles and another soldier that rocks a bullpup and some templar gauntlets and you've got a totally unique squad.

Totally modular soldiers, especially with things like Not Created Equal, could let you really make every squad completely customized and unique, with the bonus of less useless soldiers jamming up your roster. I've played so much LW2 that going to WotC felt really constraining despite the new training system, and I ended up with max rank soldiers earned as mission rewards that I was never taking into battle. With this system even randomly generated high level soldiers could present new and interesting play styles rather than just a third sharpshooter or whatever.

I think it's doable, as we saw with utility slot pistols, weapons can be assigned their own designations that abilities can be tied to, and with the new class data ability slot system soldiers can have up to 4 active trees at a time. I'd really love to see LWotC take advantage of that to give us some real modular customization.

Psieye
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Psieye » Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:20 pm

Wasn't it Spectrum that took this approach? Classless soldiers who pick and match between 7 branches of a perk tree? I may be mis-remembering exactly which mod did it, but this approach was explored before WotC.
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JulianSkies
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by JulianSkies » Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:59 pm

Psieye wrote:Wasn't it Spectrum that took this approach? Classless soldiers who pick and match between 7 branches of a perk tree? I may be mis-remembering exactly which mod did it, but this approach was explored before WotC.
Spectrum did, and the dev learned that if you give the players that much from they make a bunch of clones of the same character more often than not.
Not saying the design method is bad, just one of the hardest to implement.

stefan3iii
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by stefan3iii » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:54 pm

I think if you just open it up to let you build modular soldiers, we'll just figure out which build is the best and then spam it.

I like the randomness of the AWC. I also like the randomness of the training center in WOTC. I like the training center > AWC, because it's generally easier to get those bonus abilities and make use of them, but if I had my way both games would put way more focus on random abilities on the soldiers. It makes them far more unique and interesting, and when you lose that overpowered soldier that happened to roll a perfect combo of abilities, it's that much more 'fun'. Makes your characters truly memorable.

junk
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by junk » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:33 pm

You think that you would build entire squads of the same soldier over and over again, that seems odd to me. Even Min/Maxing soldiers for DPS I wouldn't want 6 of the same soldiers in a squad. Also I'm not suggesting we take the rng out entirely either.

The way that the XCom ability slot works in WotC is by populating a row with abilites from a pool. Those pools can be definied in lots of different groupings. I've made a couple of WotC class mods already and gave them fun xcom ability pools that act as a 3rd/4th class build option.

Solusandra
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Solusandra » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:22 pm

I've gotta side with Junk here. Making the same soldier over and over would be dull, no matter how well it works. And the random BS is one of the singular most annoying parts of the XCOM series for me. Everyone talks up the strategy planning and prepwork as what makes this game hot, but more often than not I find it's the whims of RNGesus, son of a bitch bastard that he is.

Being able to choose which soldiers you get is one of the mods I ALWAYS go for, and this soldier point trianing system from WotC is fun too. Rewards for ambush kills, shooting from above and flanking?
Yes please.
The ability to outright choose my class build rather than stumbling across the modder who's made classes I keep daydreaming about randomly as I play?
Yes please.
Sure, there'll be some people that haven't a scrap of imagination between them and their friends, but that's no reason not to give people better customization options.

Psieye
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Psieye » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:10 am

I believe when "best build gets spammed" was said, it didn't mean "1 build only". It'll be "best build for given role" and depending on playstyle you only need about 3~4 different builds across your entire barracks. Sure it feels good to stick to a small familiar design space but your soldiers stop being mechanically special if you remove the RNG.
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JulianSkies
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by JulianSkies » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:51 am

Psieye wrote:I believe when "best build gets spammed" was said, it didn't mean "1 build only". It'll be "best build for given role" and depending on playstyle you only need about 3~4 different builds across your entire barracks. Sure it feels good to stick to a small familiar design space but your soldiers stop being mechanically special if you remove the RNG.
I do believe that "best build given role" easily becomes "one build only" if this kind of freeform system isn't well made, actually. Which, making this kind of system well made is a feat in itself.

Psieye
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Psieye » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:26 am

Good point, a badly done system will lead to the Alpha-Build that's good enough for every relevant role at the same time.
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Solusandra
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Solusandra » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:16 pm

Psieye wrote:I believe when "best build gets spammed" was said, it didn't mean "1 build only". It'll be "best build for given role" and depending on playstyle you only need about 3~4 different builds across your entire barracks.
How exactly is that any different from the game, other than being more personal because of player choice?
Psieye wrote:your soldiers stop being mechanically special if you remove the RNG.
...You're going to have to explain that one. Waiting on RNGesus to give you the perfect build is exasperating. Not getting it or getting the opposite engenders little more than frustration, and getting it triggers the feeling of "it's about damn time". People wouldn't make mods in the vast majority of cases if they didn't think their way would be better and the bigger role dice play in a game, the more modders you get.
JulianSkies wrote:I do believe that "best build given role" easily becomes "one build only" if this kind of freeform system isn't well made, actually.
Again, I must insist that this only happens if you've a very very low creativity score or the creator was super bias.
JulianSkies wrote: Which, making this kind of system well made is a feat in itself.
Agreed.

stefan3iii
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by stefan3iii » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:38 pm

Solusandra wrote:
Psieye wrote:I believe when "best build gets spammed" was said, it didn't mean "1 build only". It'll be "best build for given role" and depending on playstyle you only need about 3~4 different builds across your entire barracks.
How exactly is that any different from the game, other than being more personal because of player choice?
Agreed.
There are 8 classes in the game, and the game encourages you to use all of them because of roster size pressure. If I could I would totally use teams of all Shinobi + Assault or something.

For a more modular system, that wasn't random, I'd almost certainly have less than 8 builds I use. And even between the builds I bet there'd be a lot of sharing. I guess it depends exactly on what this modular system looks like, but it's hard to imagine a non-random system where I get to pick the pieces for my soldiers resulting in more variety than the 8 classes.

I am heavily in favor of "rogue-like" randomness to the character progression, because it enhances replayability and actually gives me a reason to think on the fly, rather than just settling into a strategy that works for every campaign. I like AWC perks (or some equivalent) that make me reconsider my tech path, or the other perks I've chosen for that soldier, or that soldier's role entirely.

Solusandra
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Solusandra » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:22 am

stefan3iii wrote:There are 8 classes in the game, and the game encourages you to use all of them because of roster size pressure. If I could I would totally use teams of all Shinobi + Assault or something.
You CAN do that. The training center as it stands allows you to train two soldiers every 7 days. If you're decent at using your soldiers, you can reuse one or two teams worth while you train everybody else up as rangers. Or shinobi and assaults, since you're assuming the same builds when LW2 adapts WotC. Personally I find as much use in heavies and grenades as I do in snipers, swords and shotguns. Snipers have armor piercing and heavies have armor shredding, and half of the alien roster has massive CQC penalties for you to deal with.
stefan3iii wrote:For a more modular system, that wasn't random, I'd almost certainly have less than 8 builds I use. And even between the builds I bet there'd be a lot of sharing. I guess it depends exactly on what this modular system looks like, but it's hard to imagine a non-random system where I get to pick the pieces for my soldiers resulting in more variety than the 8 classes.
There's 16 weapons. You can't think of variations for primary secondary and utility that go beyond 8? My 'useful builds' would probably end up being 6, but that's the same as vanilla if you include Psi and spark, which I do.
stefan3iii wrote:I am heavily in favor of "rogue-like" randomness to the character progression, because it enhances replayability and actually gives me a reason to think on the fly, rather than just settling into a strategy that works for every campaign. I like AWC perks (or some equivalent) that make me reconsider my tech path, or the other perks I've chosen for that soldier, or that soldier's role entirely.
As I've noted a few times, perhaps rudely, there will of course be people who limit their fighting style, unless forced, but I don't think that in a game where fans play up the custoizability of your unit and a producer who does the same, that this will be a common problem. More options and more control lead to the variety equalling the player base, not to minimal replayability alpha build min-maxers. Not any more than the base game does already.

Psieye
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Psieye » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:39 am

Solusandra wrote: ...You're going to have to explain that one.

Again, I must insist that this only happens if you've a very very low creativity score or the creator was super bias.
Ah, you make the assumption that creativity will always triumph if the player has some. Put differently, you're arguing from an exclusive perspective: "this is the approach that would work for players with my mentality". I'm arguing from an inclusive perspective: "this approach would be bad for a psychograph with significant population". See this youtube for a mini-lecture on the Hypothetical Optimal Player. The reason why a game designer should care about such an extreme mindset is not because there will be a lot of players who actually are like that. It's because you don't want your players to feel "I lost because I wanted to be creative - had I done a tedious thing I would have won".

There are players who are both creative and results-driven. Your system would only be good for players who are binary: either all-creative with no care for results or all-results with no care for creativity. Very few people are that binary, playing in your system would feel bad for the large population that is at least somewhat creative and somewhat results-driven. This argument also assumes your system is the best one for creativity, which I'm not convinced of but exclusive-vs-inclusive perspectives is the more important point to focus on.
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LordYanaek
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by LordYanaek » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:54 pm

Psieye wrote:
Solusandra wrote: ...You're going to have to explain that one.

Again, I must insist that this only happens if you've a very very low creativity score or the creator was super bias.
Ah, you make the assumption that creativity will always triumph if the player has some. Put differently, you're arguing from an exclusive perspective: "this is the approach that would work for players with my mentality". I'm arguing from an inclusive perspective: "this approach would be bad for a psychograph with significant population". See this youtube for a mini-lecture on the Hypothetical Optimal Player. The reason why a game designer should care about such an extreme mindset is not because there will be a lot of players who actually are like that. It's because you don't want your players to feel "I lost because I wanted to be creative - had I done a tedious thing I would have won".

There are players who are both creative and results-driven. Your system would only be good for players who are binary: either all-creative with no care for results or all-results with no care for creativity. Very few people are that binary, playing in your system would feel bad for the large population that is at least somewhat creative and somewhat results-driven. This argument also assumes your system is the best one for creativity, which I'm not convinced of but exclusive-vs-inclusive perspectives is the more important point to focus on.
I think the biggest issue here is the difficulty to build a good enough open system (classless in this case).

Trying to absolutely make a game that's immune to tedious optimization from super-optimizers is probably a lost cause anyway and ends up reducing the options (the youtube lecture shows this) so i think developers shouldn't really care about players who don't try to have fun playing the game they bought as long as the majority of players have a fun game. For this to work, it requires that the benefit you could gain from tedious optimization is small enough that most players won't care and those who do actually find it fun. The civilization example is a great one (and one i understand easily having played Civ a lot, and still playing it occasionally). There are still people who review every city each turn even thought the benefit is much smaller now but most players don't and the benefit is small enough that it won't make a difference for them (they'll win or loose all the same). However if you're trying to be optimal and win as fast as possible those 1 turn of earlier growth or production will add up over the game and might save you a dozen turns in the end so the tedious optimization is still possible, but what could the developers do about it apart from removing completely the ability to manually set your workers (you retain macro control, but the micro control of your cities is left to the governor) or change the production to be a mean value of surrounding tiles multiplied by population. Each of those would completely remove the issue but would also severely limit the strategic choices available to the players so in the end the game would be less interesting in order to make sure a few players who don't like hyper-optimization but still try to do it can "have fun". Thus, i think developers should aim for some middle ground so that all those players who are both "creative and results-driven" as Psieye said can have fun but without worrying too much about a minority who can't understand that the point of a game is to have fun.

However, it's a totally different story if playing well, rather than playing super-optimally, is tedious or not interesting. Most players will try to play well and attempt to win and the game should be fun when you do. If 1 or 2 soldier builds are much stronger that the rest, most players who try to win will use them and not the others : it's not min-maxing, it's simply playing well. It's also not very fun when you have all the options LW2 brings.

TL-DR
Back on the subject, it's very hard to open all options and not end up with potentially OP combos that players who try to win will spam on every soldier. Spectrum Green "solved" this issue by making perks synergies almost non-existant and making many perks not very exiting. The result is that every soldier feels very similar to the others and very bland. I tried playing it and ended with a bunch of builds (2-3) that occasionally varied by equipping different weapons but were still very similar. None of those builds had the "personality" of a LW2 "In your Face" Assault or Blademaster Shinobi or even Flamer technical (considering it's the class most often suggested for removal, i still find them ten times more interesting than any Spectrum soldier). Having a good classless system would certainly be awesome but i think it's impossible without designing your game around it from the ground up so i fear it wouldn't work in LW2 without enormous redesign of the entire engine.

Re : RNG.
Those who've been here for some time probably know i have limited tolerance to the RNG and find that XCOM2 have enough already (too much maybe) and i frowned each time Pavonis have "balanced" something with the RNG. I never disable NCE (but never enable Hidden Potential).
NCE and random assignment of soldier classes are not issues for me. It's not the sort of RNG that can loose a campaign, not even a mission. The same is true for random AWC perks (but i play with AWC perks revealed so i can plan my builds). Those are the sort of RNG that creates a varied staff and allows me to get specialized soldiers who work great for some missions. Those are the sort of RNG that make sure no two of my squads are identical. Those are the sort of RNG that make me create unexpected soldiers i probably wouldn't have created otherwise but are fun and still very useful (Stungun Assault officer, Fast moving Shotgun skirmish Ranger, solo-tank suppressing gunner with Lone Wolf ...). I actually love that RNG.

Solusandra
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Solusandra » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:15 pm

Psieye wrote: Ah, you make the assumption that creativity will always triumph if the player has some. Put differently, you're arguing from an exclusive perspective: "this is the approach that would work for players with my mentality".
...........no, I'm not. I'm suggesting that there are a very wide variety of preferred playstyles and this game has a very broad cast of enemies even without adding in Long War which broadens it further. Allowing the player to taylor their soldiers would better match this where you insist it'd have players paring themselves down to assault/shinobi/ranger because it's the most efficient killer. There's your later discussed results driven binary.

Classless creative character design and results driven gameplay have no exclusivity, there'll just be a range of what the player does for those results. Something you seem to thing requires force to achieve. I think you're projecting here.

JulianSkies
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by JulianSkies » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:28 pm

Solusandra wrote:
Psieye wrote: Ah, you make the assumption that creativity will always triumph if the player has some. Put differently, you're arguing from an exclusive perspective: "this is the approach that would work for players with my mentality".
...........no, I'm not. I'm suggesting that there are a very wide variety of preferred playstyles and this game has a very broad cast of enemies even without adding in Long War which broadens it further. Allowing the player to taylor their soldiers would better match this where you insist it'd have players paring themselves down to assault/shinobi/ranger because it's the most efficient killer. There's your later discussed results driven binary.

Classless creative character design and results driven gameplay have no exclusivity, there'll just be a range of what the player does for those results. Something you seem to thing requires force to achieve. I think you're projecting here.
We're not saying that every player will use the same builds, but the same player will always use the same build. I have observed this fact with other games, there's a reason Four Job Fiesta is as popular as it is, too, stripping the freedom out of the player and forcing them to build under constraints.

Steelflame
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Re: The AWC in LWotC - a proposal

Post by Steelflame » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:17 am

JulianSkies wrote:We're not saying that every player will use the same builds, but the same player will always use the same build. I have observed this fact with other games, there's a reason Four Job Fiesta is as popular as it is, too, stripping the freedom out of the player and forcing them to build under constraints.
Its a fairly common thing, yep. A very large chunk of gamers are not reactionary builders, and prefer pre-set ideas. You can give them a game with 100+ builds, and they would settle into 2-3 almost without a doubt, and find it hard to pull away from those. This is a really big problem for (unskilled) players in League of Legends, another game I play and enjoy, because they won't react to the situation by trying to design a counter to it, and instead continue as they were and try and brute force it. Which they then fail, and cry for nerfs to the thing they couldn't brute force.

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