Mod: "Union"

by Kyzrati on 20130807 , under ,

Strange guy has finally released his mech warfare mod, Union.

The target, a garrison town controlled by the United Planetary Federation, has already been bombarded prior to your arrival, but the enemy presence is still strong. Lead a mixed squad of Union troops including infantry, special forces, and mechs to clear out the opposition.

I've played this one several times already, and it's full of good old mech-blasting, tree-stomping action. Torch infantry squads with mech-mounted flame throwers, use laser targeting to call in artillery and air strikes, launch disposable rockets carried by special forces, switch some mech shields to different modes depending on the situation, and (lots, lots) more.

Of course, you need to be careful lest an effective assault is turned into horrible losses in the blink of an eye when a unit of patrolling mechs finds you exposed at the wrong place. One of my more recent runs was going swimmingly, having already taken out five enemy mechs and a few infantry before a flamethrowing mech emerged from the darkness and melted one of my own to scrap. In that same turn I'd thought I could sneak up behind a soldier manning his mounted heavy machine gun, but ran out of TUs right before getting to him--he swiveled it around and opened up, blowing through both that guy, the door behind him, and my other special forces guy providing cover outside. (I got sweet revenge with my snub-nose cannon, which caused a *much* bigger explosion than I expected, much to my satisfaction ;p)

Here most of the fires have already died out after the advance across town.

Starting squad in one mission, labeled.

Best run so far.

In a way, this mod is a little before its time, as Strange guy has included a lot of interesting mechanics, details, and lore which aren't accessible within the game itself. Seeing how the game still lacks support for in-game reference information, you'll want to at least skim over the accompanying README-Union.txt file to get the most out of this mission. (Several times I've considered supporting that feature immediately, specifically for Strange guy's mods which generally have a lot of detail, but due to the level of integration necessary and the fact that the HUD isn't ready yet, from a development timeline perspective it's better to put it off rather than have to rewrite it later.)


I've also taken this opportunity to upload the latest build: R9.3.

The most notable features (as seen in the previous post) are the new map labels, animated explosion AOE previews, a new explosive priming interface, and glowing indicators for primed explosives. See the change log for a complete list.

Union uses R9.3 so you'll get to see all these features in this mod as well.
14 comments more...


  • Andrew Sundberg

    Played the mod a couple times, and it's pretty fun.

    After realizing that infantry were useless, I ended up using them to scout and just mowed everything down with my mechs. Every time a nastier enemy mech showed up, I'd just run a few infantry out to take the shots for me; my best runs have a near-100% infantry casualty rate.

    One thing I'd like to request is that you have the spawn area forced on the edge and rotate it to the center. The end result is that I don't start the game completely surrounded by MK8s with full TUs two times out of three ;p

  • Andrew Sundberg

    Hah! Just dethroned you, Kyzrati.

    X@COM v0.17.130811r9.3 (alpha) - Play #3

    Map/mission seeded randomly using seed 1376279953
    Union: Mission Complete!

    Infantry Lost (6) -300
    Guards Killed (8) 240
    Light Mechs Destroyed (6) 600
    Medium Mechs Destroyed (3) 540
    Prototypes Destroyed (1) 200
    Heavy Mechs Destroyed (1) 250
    TOTAL SCORE: 1530

    Stats, X-COM
    Shots Fired 222
    Shots Hit 78
    Damage Inflicted 1755

    Stats, General
    Turns Passed 63
    Fires Started 250
    Objects Destroyed 334
    Terrain Destroyed 1034

    Did it with two Jackals, a Long-Nose, and the Goliath. It was pretty much textbook for me; infantry screen, gun down any mechs I see with aimed Snubs or Jackal fire if that fails. The Titan went down only with the sacrifice of four infantry; every turn I would run up to it, shoot it once to drain its kinetic shield, then nail it with the Goliath's railgun. On its turn it would blow away the infantry and move around a bit, then I'd do it again. I spent a dozen turns hunting down the last guard; I thought he was sitting in an unreachable part of the bunker (all my infantry were dead at that point, and I couldn't blow any holes in it) until I shot out a building across the street and found him hiding in there.

  • Kyzrati

    It's on.

    Thanks for the seed--I'll be using that one for a true comparison :)

    And holy crap, 63 turns?!

    As for your suggestion, I agree that the starting point can sometimes be a bit odd/deadly. Maybe Strange guy will update it in a later version, if he wants to expand on his mod, though I think he's done with this one for now.

    Infantry sure are rather squishy with all the mechs running around, so they're mostly useful for searching buildings or scouting, though you seem to have taken that to the extreme by using them as true meat shields. We need to add AI that, in extreme cases, can respond to your suicide orders by eventually defecting :) (If they survive that long.)

  • Gregory

    Nice mod, nice release! Much thanks to everyone involved.

    The mod is like a roulette: can be plain simple, or can be deadly and most of your squad is wiped on the turn one. And some features are still not clear: how to unmount from a mounted machine gun? What is the difference between Executor's absorption and standard shields? Which one is turned on at the start? There are no any factions except Union and UPF in the game files, but sometimes i see or hear enemy units shooting each other without any reasons to go berserk. New explosion range indicator isn't showing when shooting underslug grenade launcher (okay, this one is done through SA, not via standard shooting modes).

    There are some issues in the game itself (seen in old releases too):
    - Wrong message when throwing with an empty hand "Slot does not exists" instead of "No item in L.Hand"
    - Sometimes it is showing "Under Fire!" but no one is firing, just my unit is in someone's FOV
    - Unable to reserve time for left hand weapon with Alt+Shift+S. Yes, i know, maybe they won't fire left hand during reaction fire, but it is still useful for me during my turn, when i want to get to the enemy as close as possible before starting shooting.
    - Grenade primed indicator is not reflected in HUD (okay, this one planned to be changed anyway)
    - Please, make it refresh line of fire (Ctrl+l) on movement.
    - I can stably reproduce the minor issue with seed reporting in html log: start a mission with random seed, save the game, load, complete the game: the html log will say "seeded manually". Yeah, i know this is a minor-est issue possible, but i still want to help it to be a prefect game :-)
    - And i have a question: what is the vertical source point of FOV and fire of a unit?

    And again - thank you for an amazing game, Kyzrati!

  • Carnets Virtuels

    I cannot remember how i managed to play from my Linux Lubuntu laptop last time (i change my pc so i reinstall everything) ! Wineconsole returns an error (invalide command)... If someone can help... Thank.

  • Gregory

    To Carnets Virtuels: plaing it on Ubuntu too. What i do is just run the command "wine XCOMRL.exe -mod:Union -fullSound" from it's directory using console.

  • Carnets Virtuels

    Thanks. I only have error like that :
    wine: cannot find L"C:\\windows\\system32\\XCOMRL.exe"

    I don't understand L"C: and why \\.. and not only \..

    After downloading Union, i just unpack the file into my games folders. Then i go inside this folder with the Terminal, cd Games/Union and then i use the command above.

    I tried PlayOnLinux also but it did not work.

  • Andrew Sundberg


    I have to admit I cheated a bit; I edited the spawns to give me nothing //but// two Jackals and a Long-Nose. After getting three Shockers in a row I threw my hands up and decided to collectively screw that. (I also took the Plasma Infantry out of the spawn list; to hell with loosing a full hundred points over a meatbag with a shiny gun ;p)

    Hang on... the lore text said that the special armor a Plasma Soldier wears is to protect him from the heat of his own weapon. It would actually be really easy to do that; damage any infantry who fire plasma without proper protection by checking for traits bestwoed by specific armors... I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the idea, Strange ;p

    Does the seed include unit distributions? If not, just go for a mission with a Titan on it; they give you more points (with the Heavy Mech kill) and go easier on you with the Goliath on your end.

    The meat never lives long enough to realize its fate. I mainly do it because there's no chance for them to improve over the course of a campaign; I usually assign a tank to the role of reactions absorption and mobile cover.

  • Gregory

    To Carnets Virtuels: there are no XCOMRL.exe directly in the unpacked folder - you should cd Games/Union/XCOMRL-R9.3/ (or whatever folder inside where you can find XCOMRL.exe file) and run that command from there. I guess, it is possible to create a shortcut to start it easily.
    Note, that you also need to run "winetricks vcrun2010" command once to install required dll's.

  • Kyzrati

    Aw, that's no good. The same seed will generate an identical layout, enemies, items, etc., but only if the underlying game data is the same--not if you modded the mod. Always better to compare with the same game+seed since different or more/fewer enemies will always change the circumstances and potential max score. I'll try again perhaps tomorrow for a perfect game.

    Good point about the lack of progression in the current game making survival less meaningful, though you do lose points for treating them as mech fodder, unless you MOD THEM OUT :)

    @Gregory: Thanks, though pretty much all I did here was update Strange guy's mod for R9.3 and put out the new release--he's been chipping away at this mod on his own for a while now. Although it's interesting you mention the mounted machine gun, because that was me fooling around with his files. I didn't really think anyone would notice you could actually mount them... Mountable guns are a feature that isn't (YET) effectively supported by the current system, so I believe Strange guy removed them. Then while playing I realized he'd left them in for the enemy, but then you couldn't use them, so... I screwed around with the files to auto-dismount anyone who died while using one to enable someone else to mount it, but then didn't finish the job by making it possible to correctly dismount, mostly because I recalled it wouldn't work correctly anyway. In short: If you're going to mount them, make sure you *really* want to mount them. But hey, the way it's set up now they can even be turned around behind you, so it's not all bad!

    As for the grenade launcher, SA don't yet support the same explosion visualization, since doing that would be more complicated. It may get added later.

    Thanks a bunch for the general other reports, I'll be looking into all of them.

    About FOV/LOF z-level: The former is calculated from the center of an entity, though obviously with even-height entities the the center lies between two cells and it must be shifted (in this case down). LOF (line-of-fire), to be honest, uses a very stupid calculation, taking the higher of the entities base level and its max level divided by 2... This means that very tall entities like the colossus have an easier time hitting things below them, but it means that very tall entities standing on a hill or high structure in a hypothetical future tall map would essentially be unable to attack enemies around their head. This obviously needs fixing. Units tall enough for this to matter should be very, very rare in any case.

    @Carnets Virtuels: I don't see why it's looking for XCOMRL.exe in your system32 directory, though I'll remind you that you do need to add the two required MSVC dlls to that directory for the game to work. The "L" prefix and double-backslashes is the system giving you a literal string using C syntax, which is kinda weird, but I don't know Linux so I have no idea why/when it would do that. Like Gregory suggests, something like that should work fine, assuming you've gotten hold of the two .dll files (you did do that step, right?). [I now see that while I was typing this Gregory kindly provided the command for installing the dlls--I didn't know that one, good to know in case others need help in the future.]

    Oh, and I didn't tell you yet Tchey: In R9.3 I changed your special "z-level change keys" from 1/2 to 6/7, so when you do get it up and running remember that! (Sorry, little less convenient, but I needed the lower number keys for the new label system.)

  • Carnets Virtuels

    I did all the steps again (i didn't know the dlls command, nice), and doublechecked the .exe directory. Still doesn't work.

    tchey@tchey-1015E:~/Jeux/UNION_v1.0/XCOMRL-R9.3$ wine XCOMRL.exe -mod:Union -fullSound

    Exact same problem with XCOMRL (not Union). And "wineconsole" instead of "wine" says invalid command.

    Thanks for these tricks and also for the z-level keys !

  • Gregory

    When wine can't find requested executable in the current folder - it tries to look for it in its windows\system32 folder, hence the error message. Make sure that XCOMRL.exe is in the current dir (case sensitive?) and is readable for your current user.
    Maybe you should try copying the whole folder into ~/.wine/drive_c/ (this is wine's emulated drive folder). Try running it from there using unix Terminal as before. Or start ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/system32/cmd.exe (dos command prompt emulator), then cd C:/UNION_v1.0/ and execute XCOMRL-Union.bat
    If it won't help - I got no idea what is wrong then, sorry.

  • Carnets Virtuels

    That fixed the problem, in a way (i still don't know why it's not working from my games folder). I can play and enjoy the game again, thanks a lot for your advises !

    From ~/.wine/drive_c/UNION_v1.0/XCOMRL-R9.3$ i use the command : wine XCOMRL.exe -mod:Union -fullSound

    ""Maybe you should try copying the whole folder into ~/.wine/drive_c/ (this is wine's emulated drive folder). Try running it from there using unix Terminal as before.""

  • Kyzrati

    Glad to hear you got it working. (As to why it doesn't work in your games directory, could it be that there any non-English/ASCII characters in the path? The game can't deal with Unicode, or even "wide characters"--another reason that "L" from earlier looks suspicious to me).

    @Gregory: You'll be happy to know that I've already released R9.4, which includes fixes to everything you listed. We'll call it the "Gregory Release" :) The one I couldn't deal with yet, however, was the "Taking fire!" message when you can't see anything. I've come across that one before myself, and it would be tough to work around given the implementation right now. It occurs when you are both in enemy FOV *and* have triggered reaction fire; problem is, sometimes the enemy decides not to fire, or is incapable for some reason (but there's no way to know that at the point the message is sent). I've filed that away with bugs to re-examine later.

    Thanks for providing the steps to reproduce the "map seeded manually" issue. When I was testing it earlier I wasn't saving/loading, which ended up being the cause.

    Only the game itself was updated (not mods yet), so if you're still playing Union, you can copy the .exe over and it should
    work fine with the changes (though it will break saved games, so finish/quit any existing game first).

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