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BETA: What was the "One Way to Win"?

Discussion in 'Data' started by FilmBoy84, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. FilmBoy84

    FilmBoy84 Administrator Administrator Tester Researcher

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    Many of those who are familiar with the cut functionality and designs of Apoc, or have done a little digging around on the CD will be familiar with the UFOPedia Entry titled "One Way to Win" - faithfully labelled "NOT USED" in it's entry...

    upload_2018-4-16_12-15-40.png

    But what was the "One Way to Win"?
    Why does it show a Megapod Spawn Chamber?

    ***SPOILERS***

    To really answer this we have to understand several facets i have documented elsewhere, so please see the following threads also:
    http://openapoc.org/threads/beta-observed-cut-functions-behaviours-items-and-units.241/
    http://openapoc.org/threads/beta-of-spies-interrogation-forensics-extortion-agent-skills-vips.278/

    1) what are the Megapod Chambers?
    A) The Megapod chambers are revealed in Vanilla and Beta Apoc as the buildings that are used to grow other buildings; without them the aliens have no means to spread their empire, replace dead or destroyed structures or colonise other dimensions. In short, without the Megapod chambers the aliens cannot survive and the Micronoids would not be able to make new host structures or life-forms. They are the sole-most-important things to the aliens,even above the dimension gate generators that themselves spawn and grow from a megapod...

    In vanilla the importance of the Megapod Chamber was drastically understated, instead the design of the game moved to a sequential destruction of the alien dimension with X-COM removing the alien ability to regrow buildings as the penultimate stage of destroying the alien war-machine. Closing the dimension gates was the "last job".

    This was furthered by the disabling of the Megapod chamber in vanilla; see those mushroom structures outside? They were meant to grow, just like the UFO mushrooms do each week. This disabling of the Megapod growth in vanilla also stopped one key aspect of the late-game design... Unless X-COM destroyed all structures quickly, the aliens could rebuild structures along the umbilical, forcing X-COM to do all those missions again and extending the conflict. It is quite obvious why this was cut for the form the game took in it's vanilla form; there just wouldnt be the interest in a repetitive end with that many features "missing" from the extended conflict planned. Microprose wanted it's game released, Mythos was given a deadline to "round things up" and release so the megapod chamber growth was disabled as one of the "last minute" cuts to the game.

    2) But why was the Megapod Chamber even a thing if they were to cut it's functionality?
    A) Well, things were not always as they were in vanilla, even in Beta2, made only weeks before vanilla release the Megapod Chamber could still "regrow" alien buildings or spread them across the assigned alien dimension (there were several maps changeable by cheats but by Beta2 the actual implementation of multiple alien dimensions had already been dropped - more on that later). The vast spread of buildings is most visible in the footage of Beta2 ive posted around the forums. Note the multiple copies of each alien building, the lack of an umbilical and so forth.



    X-COM could also land at buildings, rather than dropping into caverns next to the umbilical



    Finally, UFOs could crash and be explored IN THE ALIEN DIMENSION, they did not explode as they do in vanilla. Instead, when destroyed their crash control pilot would take the UFO down to a suitable crash-site for X-COM to take missions in... Sadly both Beta2 and Vanilla lacked the appropriate tile sprites for making crash-sites in the alien dimension, so they appear as they do in MegaPrimus. In debug however there were some sprites and many placeholders for Alien Dimension UFO crash-sites.



    This was all part of the "One way to win" design at that time; there was an extended war in the alien dimension once X-COM got access. It was not as simple as just hopping into the umbilical and following it to the end of the game. The longer X-COM took to take out those buildings, the more would be regrown and X-COM would have to move fast to scout buildings to ascertain their purpose (see screen below), return to the Cityscape, research the information obtained and return to destroy the building. Additionally, X-COM was not forced to take each building type out linearly, they could land at a megapod chamber, dimension gate generator or factory at ANY TIME and learn its function. This is why multiple copies exist, to give the aliens a chance of regrowing structures whilst still maintaining active dimension gates.

    http://openapoc.org/attachments/tacp_005-png.59/

    In Beta2 the "One way to win" is by destroying ALL the megapod chambers before they have chance to grown new ones. The UFOPedia entry is still defunct (as no version of one way to win was specified because Beta2 was a middle-ground to cuts from the game as it travelled towards vanilla - new content was NOT being made by then) but the importance of the Megapod Chamber is still apparent through play, you just cant win without destroying it. If you destroy all the dimension gate generators, but leave a megapod chamber in the alien dimension, you lose your craft and a few weeks later dimension gates start opening over the cityscape again as the aliens have regrown the generators...

    Prior to Beta1 in the so called "debug" versions of the game, the design was for something even more complex.
    Not only could the aliens regrow buildings, but they could expand in multiple other dimensions too. There was at this time a schism in game design, the micronoids were the "true alien" but there was debate as to whether a "cydonia or bust" type queen or brain would also be essential to completing the game.

    Ultimately the queen was chosen and made essential to the creation of "new" aliens. By destroying the queen, X-COM could stop production of the normal alien types, but NOT micronoids who bred independently of a queen and not to dissimilarly to parasites or bacteria. Additionally, any living structure could still serve it's primary function as long as it stood, so UFOs and new buildings could still expand the micronoid empire even without the foot-soldiers if the queen had been destroyed. The aliens would also endeavour to have MORE THAN ONE QUEEN in more than one dimension initially "hidden" to X-COM. as well as regrow a new queens chamber and queen if given enough time.

    To find the mutliple alien dimensions X-COM would have to follow a series of clues as well as obtain material leading to the conclusion that our dimension was not the only one invaded; only then could the original design of "One way to win" be exposed...

    (MORE TO COME, REACHED MAXIMUM CHARACTER LIMIT AND FREE TIME FOR TODAY)
     
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  2. Yataka Shimaoka

    Yataka Shimaoka Well-Known Member Tester Translator/Writer

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    I suspected that right from the start when I saw that ufopaedia info, but little do I know about the massive gameplay impact those pods to the game, well of course never realised as it was cut. As stated in the other threads, no umblicals inside the dimension, which is I greatly wanted to see because its too much for me to on doing missions in a chain. Though I got a hypothesis why the UFO crash lands in the dimension, I bet during that time UFO crashing is still being tested, so I believe back then the engine doesn't know which tile (accidentally written time by me) should a UFO crash

    EDIT: Typo check
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
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  3. FilmBoy84

    FilmBoy84 Administrator Administrator Tester Researcher

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    (Continued from 1st Post http://openapoc.org/threads/beta-what-was-the-one-way-to-win.279/ )

    "One way to win" Original Concepts and Design (DEBUG and EARLIER VERSIONS)

    The pre Beta1 versions of Apocalypse were problematic, not just due to their Alpha state, but also in the sheer number of ideas and unrealised, partially implemented concepts that were either just in the design phase or held in the game with place-holders and test tables.

    Some of these tables do remain, disabled in the vanilla code, for example Skin36 found the remnants of a much more complex diplomacy table a few months back that in the vanilla version at least just deals with simple relations between organisations;
    upload_2018-4-24_10-40-58.png

    As a result of all the, well documented, development shenanigans finding exactly what the original intent of "One way to win" was is made extremely difficult. However, the following details were known at various stages of development. I've tried, where possible, to put the "One way to win" ideas into "eras of development" by what the known intent at the time was... Please note these are NOT official classifications or sections of development, they are simply the only way i can see breaking up the mess that was Apocalypse development into clear sections...

    FIRST PLANETS / Solar System Era

    Back in very early development, there were multiple planets of the solar system open to X-COM and the other organisations; Marsec and Solmine for example had control of mars and MarSec particularly would take offence to X-COM activities on the red planet. Other planets or moons had also been colonised by mankind and all served or were controlled by one or more of the organisations we still see in vanilla (plus a few cut ones). The only remaining link to the planets system is in Beta2 which still contains Planet.PCK and sprites to allow the user to switch between the various planets and moons developed prior to Beta1.

    To understand what was going on during the planets era is very difficult, development had started on Apocalypse as early as 1994 when UFO was near completion. It continued whilst Microprose put together TFTD and computer hardware was changing rapidly. Very early design concepts had multiple Geoscopes for each planet, with X-COM going down to procedurally generated cities from which missions were then launched... This gave a FOUR-layer design concept (Planet, Geoscope, Cityscape, Battlescape) and the game was to be completed in much the same way as UFO/TFTD with X-COM following a series of special missions similar to the "Cydonia or bust" of UFO.

    The aliens were to have a queen or brain as per UFO/TFTD only the player would have multiple paths of research to vary the ending slightly; only one of these endings would be "good" with one "bad" and at least one "false-win" or "not-so-good" ending. It was unclear what was intended.

    SECOND PLANETS / Solar System Era

    Once it was clear that the Geoscope layer was going to make the game too complex, things were reduced to Planet->Cityscape->Battlescape and the idea of "Mega-Cities" was born, each planet having it's own "capital" for which X-COM and the various organisations would have a presence. The player would switch between cities with the buttons still present in the aforementioned "planet.pck" file and have to fight the aliens across a range of different environments, gravities and political backgrounds. An alien dimension had been introduced as well as the mechanism for the aliens to expand their presence as X-COM did by "growing" new buildings from the Megapod Chambers and moving them to the planets populated by humanity. The player and organisations could buy, sell and build new properties also and there was a complex real-estate mechanism partially implemented to reflect the ever changing fortunes of the organisations and aliens as the war progressed. The player could bankrupt organisations through diplomatic action, sanctions, conflict, destruction of property, assassination and extortion and then buy or forcibly take over the buildings of the rival organisation. Likewise the aliens could infest buildings and grown new ones in the human cities; the MegaPod chambers were essential to this end and during the planets era we see the start of the last "One way to win concept" - X-COM simply could not succeed without stopping the aliens ability to grow and mature new alien structures that supported the alien war against humanity.

    Whilst the "true" alien power was still in debate; unclear whether or not a Queen/Brain/Micronoids were the main aggressors and if there would be a "Cydonia or bust" final mission, the player HAD to destroy the MegaPod Chamber and that fact could not be changed in terms of game lore at this stage.

    FIRST MULTIPLE-DIMENSION Era

    In time the concept of multiple cities on multiple planets was dropped, instead the player would control interests in Mega-Primus on Earth and battle the aliens across a handful of different dimensions all serving a different purpose for the aliens. There would be a verdant "food" dimension, a "factory" dimension and so-on... To win the player would have to follow a path through the research tree that would allow them to discover each dimension and the means to destroy it by following clues and the collection of artefacts from both hand-crafted and procedurally generated missions. By the time the player reached the "final" alien dimension, or found a means to circumvent the others to destroy "The real alien threat" the destruction of the MegaPod Chamber as the only way to truly close the dimension gate generators, or stop their recreation, would be clear to the player. By destroying the MegaPod Chamber the player stopped the micronoids from entering other parts of their empire, replacing queens, replacing lost buildings or putting new buildings on earth or the other territories of mankind.

    This stage of development was the first, true, "One way to win" phase in the form we currently know it. The Micronoids were established as the main aggressors, the alien queen was essential to most alien lifeforms, but not the real problem, maintenance of the entire alien empire relied on the Megapods as a means of surviving the harsh environments that the Micronoids had to exist within and alien expansion was firmly dependant on the Megapod Chambers.
     
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  4. FilmBoy84

    FilmBoy84 Administrator Administrator Tester Researcher

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    SECOND MULTIPLE-DIMENSION Era (DEBUG / Pre-BETA1)

    Despite the cuts previously, partially on the grounds of the game being too complex, once again, development became more bogged down with complex features, ideas and concepts. The multiple alien dimensions were expanded to be totally procedurally generated with only the "main" dimension hand-crafted, the aliens could expand across them differently each time, changing the buildings produced by the Megapod Chambers each week to suit a counter to X-COM activities. If the aliens were struggling to produce enough weapons, more factories were spawned, if they were short of beasts, more queen chambers were born, each dimension was different and the alien infestation in them and across Mega-Primus would take a different form each play-through.

    Additionally, the idea that X-COM would have to follow clues from both Battlescape and Spy methods to find the multiple alien dimensions had been expanded, amongst the procedurally generated missions there would be semi-random "special" missions that were hand-crafted and became available after certain areas of research or certain artefacts or clues were found. If X-COM found enough of them they would be able to research the following THREE bits of equipment, the flags for which remain in vanilla code to this day:

    Structure Probe

    This allowed X-COM to probe alien buildings to ascertain a means of destroying them, as well as their purpose. It was fitted to the dimension probe once built and allowed X-COM to reduce risk to it's agents by not having to put feet on the ground to discover a buildings purpose. However, it also meant that a player choosing only to probe buildings would never be able to find all the clues that lead to the discovery of multiple alien dimensions and the full "One way to win" story arc. In short, it was useful, but ultimately drove X-COM down the wrong path. They would destroy the first alien dimension, think they had won, only to have the dimension gates open again a few weeks later as the aliens rebuilt their dimension from another place.

    Vortex Analyser

    If X-COM was successful in finding all the clues to multiple dimensions and had researched the DIMENSION SHIFTER equipment obtained from UFOs (This is still in vanilla but does nothing), they could research this additional module for the dimension probe. Similarly to the Structure Probe, the Vortex Analyser allowed X-COM to scan dimension gates to see where they lead. Sooner or later X-COM would find a gate to another procedurally generated dimension, log it, and be able to choose operations there via a switcher interface (never implemented, though present via hotkeys even as late in development as Beta2). If X-COM analysed ALL of the dimension gates generated each week, sooner or later they would find the path to the main alien dimension and the Megapod Chamber within. The Megapod Chamber was only present in this final dimension and only feet-on-the-ground research of the building would allow X-COM to truly ascertain it's purpose. If not researched or destroyed X-COM would opt to destroy the Dimension Gate generatorsand obtain the false win ending, (remember there was no umbilical until vanilla, X-COM could choose which dimensions and buildings they landed at freely - this is why the Megapod Chamber had to be hidden in the "last" alien dimension and behind many clues, research paths and artefacts) just as if they had never bothered to find the other dimensions - all that effort would come to nothing if the player did not discover the real purpose of the MegaPods... There really only was "One way to win" destroy the Megapods, or face a never ending battle with the micronoids able to regrow their entire forces within a matter of weeks.

    As a side note, the Dimension Probe in Vanilla is fairly useless, it marks a stage of development and research for X-COM but in effect, does very little useful. Only by realisation of the above three bits of equipment do we see how this weak, tiny craft, was so essential to X-COM efforts in early versions. It's importance in "One way to win" cannot be understated, once upgraded it was the only way to analyse buildings and dimension gates, the player would have to use other craft to protect it from attacks long enough to get it to the location where it could make an analysis, then escort it all the way back to X-COMs research facilities. Even then, if the player only managed to upgrade the probe with the structure probe equipment they could miss the opportunity to also give it the vortex analyser and the craft could be complicit in sending X-COM down a false path...

    This largely concludes my knowledge of "One way to win", as documented on the other threads listed in the OP of this thread, there were many other little nuances to the path, but I hope this thread helps you all see what could have been and how Apocalypse retained this piece of research long enough to still have a UFOPedia entry on the vanilla CD

    If anyone from the original dev team is browsing this forum and wants to add more, please PM me; I'd love to hear from you.
     
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