Paramilitary Intelligence

by Kyzrati on 20130629 , under ,

As part of the beginning of the UI update, the latest additions have been about getting more info on the battlescape map.

Holding different number keys will identify visible objects by name. Here you can see labels popping up for enemies, then soldiers (much more fun with sound):

Your soldier names can also be color-coded by their remaining health.
Enemies are also identified this way when first spotted, as are all of those in line of sight at the beginning of each turn.

Also use labels to quickly check what items your soldiers are currently holding, and those that are lying on the ground (for stacks of items, it will cycle through them as you hold down the key):

Your soldiers' armament is also color-coded by percentage ammo remaining, where applicable.

Any number of types of labels can be displayed simultaneously, depending on how many keys you want to hold down.

Explosives will be (somewhat) safer to use, now that you can see their area of effect without resorting to square counting. It works for both firing explosive projectiles and throwing primed explosives, and uses brighter colors for higher damage--the blaster launcher calculation looks like... a super nova :) Here's a small rocket:

The animation will properly predict explosion dampening by various obstructions based on their material.

There's also a new (proper) grenade priming interface that replaces the old (okay, ancient) placeholder input method.

Since there's rarely reason to prime a timer to anything but 0, that will be the default behavior (skipping the window entirely) unless you press an extra key to manually open the priming interface.

Props and items can now be animated, though I don't plan to go crazy with the feature myself, as it could get distracting. UFO power sources do have a gradual glowing effect now, and explosive devices primed by your soldiers and thrown or left lying in the open will glow, too.
11 comments more...


  • Andy

    You're evolving the ascii genre(is there such a thing?) into something wonderful!

    For the names of soldiers, what would you say if half of it shows health, and half shows action points left. Too many colors?

    Or are the differently colored friendly units supposed to gauge at how much AP they have left?

    Haven't played the game in quite some time, so sorry if I'm a doofus with the questions.

  • Kyzrati

    Thanks Andy, and no problem about not having played in a while, since it's always just being updated a bit at a time, and is alpha, after all. Can always just wait until it gets better!

    I believe the TU/energy etc summary is going to be a HUD feature. Having too much information on the map could get pretty crowded (while using multiple colors would require no extra space, it wouldn't look very nice). Instead you'll be able to pull up a list of your soldiers and all their important info in the HUD, and you can hover the cursor over one to highlight them on the map, or click on them to select. If that turns out to not be good enough for all cases (as I can see how quickly knowing who, by position, has how much TU remaining), I could just add a separate visualization for that.

  • Gregory

    Great news! Hope it will sole the problem "Quick! Who of you has the med-kit and is closer to this poor wounded guy!"

  • Anonymous

    Maybe something like a small red cross under the label to indicate the soldier have a medkit in inventory? Can maybe also use asterisk (*) to indicate grenades in inventory?

  • Kyzrati

    We'll try to get as much unit data on the map as possible without hopelessly cluttering it up, but I'll probably refrain from putting any more info with the labels themselves for now, waiting until the HUD is coming along to see how functional it can be. Anything that isn't efficient enough over there can then also be tacked on to the labels, something more or less like the symbols you suggest.

  • Gregory

    First of all, I want to thank you for this great game! This is probably the most interesting game project I've seen. I can't stop checking your website every day, despite I've subscribed to rss already :-)
    Very original take at the all-time-favorite game, technically flawless, stylishly looking, with creatively crafted scenarios and flexible modability. Amazing!

    Today, I had a successful but somewhat strange play of a Ground Zero.


    When the first scout ship was destroyed, a panic wave have scattered through the alien troops. Apparently, they become shooting inside the terror ship, causing all powercores to explode and leaving an empty carcass filled with caustic plasma smoke. Three minutes later, when two Xcom soldiers got inside, they were met with two sectopods. One was neutralized rather quickly, but the second one barricaded in the opposite antechamber and stood his position for a long time.

    Using smoke as a cover, guys was showering him with a plasma fire, however, without no effect. One of them, a medic, got stunned with smoke, confused and thrown a heavy plasma gun instead of the primed alien grenade at sectopod's position. Swearing, he send that grenade in pursuit, went back to the first entrance chamber, picked up a plasma rifle from the hands of a dead sectoid, just to throw it again instead of a second grenade two minutes later :-) Both weapons did no apparent damage to the sectopod, as well as the grenades. That sectopod still caused one or two deaths to the soldiers who were trying to approach through the broken entry gates of his chamber.

    An the debriefing, strategist suggested that the panic was caused by some disturbance in a telepathy field, because the rest of the aliens have dropped their weapons and lost any initiative. They were wandering aimlessly across the battlefield, making the destcruction of four remaining scout ships a straightforward task. Last powercore was destroyed seconds before another teleport commenced, by a reckless sacrifice from a commander who shot it with a gantling laser standing in the open doors of a scout ship. He had no remote charges left and, you know - hull breachers aren't of use for that.

    When a backup forces arrived, they only had to deal with one colossus, who were crashing through the remains of the town. And that stubborn sectopod was finally shot down by some lucky guy.


    Mission log states that the game was started with a manual random seed, despite _seed.xt was MAP_SEED set to 0. Unfortunately, I forgot to backup the run.log from that mission, but have a savegame right before the alien panic strike.
    The final stats was showing 53 aliens neutralized. Is that multiple remains from one big colossus? Because I don't remember shooting down that many. Or maybe it is because i've used a quickload function several times along the game?
    (X@COM v0.17.130401r9, Ground Zero v1.0, running under Wine in Ubuntu)

    I'm experimenting with X@COM's map generation now, trying to achieve realistic natural landscape. Maybe this will become a new mod someday.

    P.S. I was thinking about some small features to suggest. Maybe we can have a final screenshot of the battlefield saved to the same folder where mission logs are written to? And can you consider adding random dampening to the explosion hitting cells at the edge of it's radius, or something else that will make explosion circle marks look scattered and more realistic on open terrains like grass?
    And, yeah - one small issue spotted: when mission log is written to html, "" are not escaped as "<x2>".

  • Kyzrati

    Dammit dude, don't check every day, it's disappointing :( Seriously, I want to work on this more but I'm actually working on it less...

    Nice story, those aliens must've been totally demoralized by the loss of their Terror Ship when the destruction of the cores vaporized everyone lurking upstairs. You don't have to kill an alien yourself for it to count as "neutralized" and Ground Zero can have several to many dozen aliens in total (especially with a Terror Ship among others), so that number is not impossible. A colossus only counts as one.

    I've never seen an issue with the seed reporting before--just checked again and nothing out of the ordinary.

    Thanks for the heads up on the html logs. I hadn't looked at those since the repeat message marker was added as a new feature, so I'm glad *someone's* noticing these things! I'll escape them for the next version.

    I'll add an option to auto-export an image of the battlescape at mission end later on. And I agree about adding variations to explosion borders, as it currently looks weird on uniform terrain like grass, but then some people would no doubt complain about any loss of predictability. We'll leave that as a possibility for the future.

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