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Fixing Fire

Discussion in 'Game Mods' started by bobucles, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. bobucles

    bobucles Registered

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    Fire in vanilla Apocalypse is awful. Just awful. Here's how it works:
    - Agents hit by an incendiary explosion are covered in fire for a few seconds.
    - Agents that suffer damage in a fire are also set on fire.
    - Agents on fire proc fire damage every few ticks.
    - The fire proc deals a small amount of damage (<10).
    - That damage is negated by armor.

    What's the problem here? Take a look at that underlined point. Megapol armor starts at 40 defense, yet fire never strikes for more than 10'sh damage. Strangely enough, armor does not take any durability hit from fire damage except when it is on the ground. Long story short, an agent will NEVER be hurt by fire!

    So what can we do? IMO the best trick is to steal a page from the Entropy Gun's book. That's right. The gun that eats your armor and causes your agents to explode? It sounds a lot like fire! Here's how it would work:
    - Agents hit by incendiaries catch on fire.
    - Fire procs every few ticks
    - That proc deals both a small amount of physical damage AND causes armor decay (1-4 points all)
    - Agents who walk on fire suffer the same procs.
    - Agents who get damage from ground fire have a CHANCE (vanilla is 100% on damage) to also light up.
    - Agents that take damage from the fire debuff can cause equipment to explode. (basically after the armor fails)

    Fire won't shred agents anywhere as quickly as the Entropy Gun. That would be bad. But there is one upside. Due to how durability mechanics work in Apoc, the Personal Shield is totally immune to fire. That means no matter how much you scorch an alien, they will always drop their shields every time. This adds a whole new dimension to incendiary rounds, as a way of getting shields! In Vanilla this is not possible because even the tiny armor values used by aliens causes most of them to be totally immune to fire.
     
  2. The Reaver of Darkness

    The Reaver of Darkness Registered

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    That seems quite reasonable.

    I remember testing incendiary in all three games and never succeeding in killing anything with it. Even against my own agents/soldiers/aquanauts it seemed to deal a trivial amount of damage. In Apocalypse in particular I did one test in which I cornered a multiworm into a corner and lit the whole room on fire. After some 30+ turns of it writhing in the corner I finally just shot it and discovered it to have basically full HP remaining.

    More recently I did an incendiary test in Openxcom (UFO) and the first hit (80 power) on a Reaper killed it instantly. For the rest of the mission, not one single enemy died from incendiary, including one cornered floater who stood in fire for 4 turns after having received three direct hits from incendiary ammo. None of the remaining reapers went down from the initial blast of incendiary (not even after being hit multiple times), and I never managed to corner any of them and make them stand in the fire, so they always walked out of it.

    Anyway, I think it'd be nice to make incendiary actually hurt things, in all of the X-Com games.
     
  3. Solarius Scorch

    Solarius Scorch Call to Power modder Global Moderator

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    What's so weird? I don't think a futuristic armour, essentially a powered battle unit, should be harmed by mundane flames. It was made to withstand energy weapons, for gods' sake; its heat storage and dissipation must be fantastic. Sure, it will overheat in the end, but not within seconds.

    Most aliens should be different though. Organic matter, even very tough, is not fire-resistant, unless bio-engineered for this specific purpose. If you see an alien,

    [​IMG]

    The only problem with fire is that it burns rooms, buildings and civilians. As well as explodey alien stuff laying around.
     
  4. bobucles

    bobucles Registered

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    Don't forget that the fire is also futuristic! Napalm and thermite are serious business.

    With the values I provided, an agent on fire will eat through their armor in 10-20 seconds and take another similar amount of time to kill. That's plenty of time to pull them out of danger or do something. Any longer than that and the mission is going to be over before fire gets its chance. Alternatively fire could deal less equipment damage (or equipment could have more fire resistance) so that it takes more time before an agent explodes(quick burning aliens is A-OK). Damage can be made more direct if it has some armor piercing quantity. Armor absolutely melts if it's left on the ground in a fire, so it should behave no differently on a person.

    The armor damage formula in Apocalypse starts off very slow and quickly escalates to eat the rest of the armor. If fire just used the regular damage formula to armor (maybe with a boost) it might work out okay.

    Note that the damage values for incendiary weapons are placeholders. They determine the AoE of the fire.

    Obviously dealing massive damage to structures is a great way to piss organizations off. I dunno how well this is modeled in Apoc but severe reckless damage WILL turn guys hostile so beware.
     
  5. Solarius Scorch

    Solarius Scorch Call to Power modder Global Moderator

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    I agree with and accept your model Bobucles, but only in relation to fire that is, as you said, futuristic - which means a direct result of an incendiary weapon. Like pools of chemicals burning at 2000 C, for example.

    The game as it is (just like the previous X-Com games) models a different kind of fire, one that is comes from burning scenery stuff, is only several hundred degrees hot and always has the same damage value.

    So using the former type ("napalm") would produce a secondary effect of setting nearby things on the latter type of fire by radiating heat.
     
  6. The Reaver of Darkness

    The Reaver of Darkness Registered

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    That's what I was thinking. There should be a difference between incendiary fire (thermite/phosphor/whatever-apocalypse-uses) and environmental fire. Incendiary units could get environmental fires started, as could lasers, plasma, explosives, or existing fire sources such as lamps, torches, fire pits, etc. Incendiaries on the other hand would have a special fire that, while it can launch new environmental fire, the incendiary hot fire would itself burn out fairly rapidly.
     
  7. Grimagor

    Grimagor Registered

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    Another suggestion, allow fire damage to reduce morale.
    That give another tactical use of fire, maybe it can do a lot of dmg but their morale impact should help a lot.
     
  8. The Reaver of Darkness

    The Reaver of Darkness Registered

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    I like that idea. Fire should affect morale, and leaving someone in fire should have a high chance of making them panic and run out of it. Of course morale damage would be based on physical damage sustained, so that armor which protects them from the fire also makes them less afraid of it.

    In a similar vein, I think there could be a tear gas grenade which would both lower morale and irritate senses. Units affected by the tear gas would have greatly reduced vision and the effect would take several turns to wear off fully.
     
  9. bobucles

    bobucles Registered

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    That already happens in vanilla. A hit from an incendiary blast sets an agent on fire AND leaves them in a pool of fire. That leaves them taking double fire damage at the very least. Should be good enough.

    Fire already FORCES all units to run outside the fire zone. Even on aggressive setting. It's a pain in the ass to deal with it! Changing fire to affect morale would probably be a nerf because the forced fleeing happens even at full morale.
     
  10. Solarius Scorch

    Solarius Scorch Call to Power modder Global Moderator

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    Sadly, it wouldn't in this model. The point is that a 22-th century heavy armour should be able to withstand being in ordinary fire indefinitely, or long enough it wouldn't matter in this game. Doubling the damage wouldn't do much, since the basic damage would be zero anyway.

    High-power fire, on the other side...

    Yeah, it's an old problem with games. :) For example, in WH40K, there is the Griffon mortar which fires incendiary shells, and any unit which is hit but survives must take an obligatory move to get out of the inferno. As I play Chaos, I have many units with the "Fearless" ability, and some of my friends found it bizarre that they have to move out too, so we introduced a rule where the player has the choice of either doing the move or suffering another to-wound roll.

    Anecdotes aside, I think my own units in OpenApoc should remain in the fire if I tell them too, as long as they are in Aggressive mode. This applies to units that remain unharmed at the time being, otherwise they should be losing morale.
     
  11. Jos

    Jos Registered

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    I totally agree fire is lame in Apoc. I have modded it (using Apoc'd) to destroy scenery faster (in Apoc'd you can change the resistances of all the different scenery objects, and increase the damage they take from fire.

    Reducing morale when in fire is an interesting idea,
    and damaging armor every game tick in fire is also a good idea, IMO.
     
  12. The Reaver of Darkness

    The Reaver of Darkness Registered

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    That's what I was talking about. The Megapol armor should protect completely from environmental fire, but should be deteriorated rapidly by incendiary fire. Incendiary fire could look different to make it clear that it's more dangerous.

    Reminds me of this old FPS game called Terminal Terror. You'd get this fire extinguisher which you could use to get fire sout of your path if you didn't want to run through them and take damage. But there was one particular inferno which you couldn't just extinguish, it would damage you very rapidly and you couldn't move through it. It was said to be something other than a standard fire so there was a quest to get something special to put it out with.
     
  13. Solarius Scorch

    Solarius Scorch Call to Power modder Global Moderator

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    Yeah, particularly hot fire should be visually different...


    [​IMG]

    :)
     
  14. bobucles

    bobucles Registered

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    Sorry, I'm not going to agree here. Game mechanics trump future tech any day of the week. If fire is not powerful enough to endanger agents, then it is not powerful enough. Period. Any other argument is secondary to making sure that fire has a functional use in game.

    The fire that I suggested will not harm agents until their armor reaches the critical zone. At that point the agent is in danger against everything, including internal ammo explosions. That should be a good starting point for fire.

    Fire already has intensity levels in game (graphic representations of time remaining), and the burning potential of any object can be further tweaked so that some things can burn small or big. Ultimately those other things are tweaks to the whole. IMO altering the damage based on "heat" is pointless busywork because there are already 2 tiers of fire: standing on it and catching it. Having both is twice as deadly, which means trouble happens in half the time.
    I've had time to think about this, and I think it's a good idea. The vast majority of aliens have extremely high bravery compared to human troops. Attacking them with fire would not be effective against their morale, while it would remain super effective against ordinary people. Fire would still shred alien "armor" and cause HE weapons to explode, so it still gets to be super effective at dealing lethal damage while not caring too much about alien morale. Besides, aliens are aliens so who knows how they react to fire. It could be a completely novel thing to the organically formed society.

    Replacing the forced fier move with a morale loss means that:
    Fire vs. Humans +++
    Fire vs. Aliens --
    That's good. I'm not a major fan of fire, but I know that screwing with AI is super damn good so it shouldn't be as easy to spam as incendiary rounds.
     
  15. Solarius Scorch

    Solarius Scorch Call to Power modder Global Moderator

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    But it has a function already. It forces units to move, damages environment and spreads. I like fire already, but rarely use it because of how destructive it is to the city and the alien equipment.

    About agents not being endangered and so on, this is why we suggested two types of fire. We're not sacrificing mechanics for realism. (And I don't believe we should sacrifice realism for mechanics either, this sort of "balance" always, always leads to bad games.)

    Oh, once the armour is deteriorated by other means, sure - it's no longer valid. My point was that a campfire damaging an equivalent of Power Suit is completely stupid. Unless you use hi-tech to fight hi-tech.

    I and a couple other people had exactly the same problem modding OpenXcom: fire damage value only determined the size of explosion, not actual damage. This is fine as long as we mean normal "environmental" fire, but not chemicals that burn at different temperatures and are supposed to be weapons.
    I would really like to avoid the issue this time, hence the proposal of another type of fire that is actually a different thing, but it shares some properties with fire:
    - It works against the same resistance type.
    - It burns for some time (doesn't need external fuel).
    - It spreads, but it creates normal fire instead of itself.

    Me too. :)
     
  16. bobucles

    bobucles Registered

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    WHY would fire ever force a unit to move? Assuming that you are correct and traditional fire is harmless against megapol armor, don't you think that's the FIRST thing they would teach an XCOM agent? If you want realism, XCOM hazing day would literally involve suiting your rookies up, pouring gasoline on them, and lighting them up to teach them just how pointless it is to run away from a blaze. In two days some guy is going to make a "realism" mod because "guys don't get hurt in fire so they shouldn't be fleeing from fire", and they would be absolutely correct to do so.

    Two classes of fire will not address this. All it does is create a situation where once again agents are sitting in the "safe" fire taking a smoke break.

    So no. Your idea completely fails to be internally consistent with the game world. It's broken out the gate, and that makes it a bad idea. The previous XCOM games proved that players won't use fire if it can not be lethal. Agents should be running from fire because "holy shit I'm on fire I'm gonna die". The actual intensity and danger of the fire can be easily addressed through tile mechanics, making sure that poor combustibles generate low power fires that quickly disperse, while incendiary rounds create strong long lasting flame.

    The morale system is superior to a forced move, because it still CAN force an agent to flee from fire against their better judgement. Stoic agents can suck it up for a while, and aliens will be more resistant to having their entire assault completely negated by one guy with an incendiary cannon. Those are all good gameplay things, especially getting rid of the alien AI exploit.

    UFO/TFTD fire was awful and you know it. It was hard enough to kill a naked rookie by sitting him in a blaze. Incendiary ammo was non viable and it had nothing to do with the mysterious nature of power armor's infinite resistance. Power armor could have had no resistance to fire and it would not have changed anything about XCOM. That's how pointless it was.

    Calling a throwback to a mysterious resistance against a broken mechanic is not a good argument. It only encourages bad design by hurting fire's ability to be viable in Apocalypse.

    On the field, no way. There should not be a "safe" kind of fire. But consider that the futuristic combustible is something that burns hard and fast. Stuff like thermite burns out super quickly and deals most of its damage immediately. The best way to model that is by dealing direct damage with the incendiary blast. This allows a fire attack with a high enough damage value to pierce armor and kill things directly. The lethality can then be adjusted with various armor resistances so that both the direct component and the burning component can work together as a full package.
     
  17. Solarius Scorch

    Solarius Scorch Call to Power modder Global Moderator

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    Uh, yeah. So? Sorry, but I fail to see the problem.

    The only reasons that prevents us from using this tactics are:
    1) It's really bad for the local area - we're a special agency, not army, and THERE IS NO WAR IN BA-SING-SE. ;)
    2) Using such equipment would be technically difficult.[/quote]

    I certainly agree with this. Nevertheless, I believe damage levels are necessary if we're treating fire as a weapon. It doesn't really matter if Megapol armour is immune to the weak for or not, I'm talking about the general mechanics that is really insufficient for modelling fire as a weapon - covering torches, Molotov cocktails, flame throwers and napalm.

    Sorry, but it isn't true. When I made aliens with hellfire missiles (using the triscene from TFTD), soldiers died to their attacks rather well, because they caught fire and burned to death within 3 - 4 turns. Of course once you had power suits the missiles were no longer a threat, because it was still the same, ordinary fire that the suits were immune to.

    Yeah, I can see your point and I'm not saying I'm certainly right. I'm just seeing certain (old) problems are trying to find a way to deal with them; I would like at least to highlight them, which I am hopefully doing in this post.

    Yep, I can accept this solution. As long as the damage value is adjustable, no problem.
     
  18. The Reaver of Darkness

    The Reaver of Darkness Registered

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    This is the sort of view that breaks games time and time again, and that the creators of X-Com shied away from it is a major contributing factor to the games' outstanding success.

    A typical game designer believes that a fire in a game should cause the character(s) damage because that is a trope of games, regardless of any sort of built-in fire immunity the character is supposed to have by default. Only an in-game temporary powerup should ever make the character(s) immune to fire.

    But why can't soldiers be immune to fire if there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for it in the backstory? Ignoring such things makes this just another game, and encourages a lack of critical thinking in favor of mindlessly assuming that all gaming tropes are valid. Most games are teaching players to play the same way every time,, and players who get used to this style of gaming can go from one game to the next never learning any new tactics. Once confronted with a game that defies these tropes, they get confused for a while because they aren't used to actually having to think about what they're going to do. Then once they get used to it, they learn to like it and wonder why there aren't more games like that.

    Of course incendiary ammunition should get through armor, but there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to suggest that ordinary environmental fire should deal any significant amount of damage through Megapol armor. It should only ever be dangerous to an unarmored soldier or a soldier with very light armor, or an armor that is flammable. Perhaps the aliens' armor burns from environmental fire, who knows?
     
  19. Jos

    Jos Registered

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    At the very least, a soldier in fire should have his visibility reduced to almost 0, thereby neutralising him completely until he exits it. It should also do stun damage from smoke inhalation (i think it already does a little bit as fire generates smoke)
    I also think fire should slowly damage armour. It is very hot after all. I think it's very easy to loose sight of just how intense and powerful fire is from the saftey of a video game.
     
  20. bobucles

    bobucles Registered

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    Positing a moot attribute from a broken mechanic from a previous game is NOT a good explanation. XCOM agents are NOT lava monsters who sleep in a balgrog pit. They are flesh and blood, equipped with an ablative combat armor that sacrifices itself to deflect high power attacks. At no point in the UFOpaedia is fire immunity ever hinted at or suggested to be viable in any form. It only exists in your mind because fire has been a broken and non viable mechanic in every XCOM ever. That doesn't make it right.

    I already took care of that. Did you not read a single word I wrote? The soldier is effectively immune to fire until his armor fails. Being in the fire causes the armor to fail, and at a fairly slow rate at that. There is more than enough time to pull a burning agent to safety every single time.

    Vanilla fire does NOT cause armor to fail. This is a contradiction to the game's own mechanics, where all forms of damage cause armor failure. Even the game's own damage table tells us that armor is supposed to take damage from fire:

    Code:
    Incendiary:
        Disruptor Armor    10%
        Marsec Armor       20%
        Megapol Armor      40%
        Android            60%
        Disruptor Shield   60%
        Hyperworm          150%
    Surprisingly enough the disruptor shield is supposed to take fire damage, but not only does it fail to block fire, the projector is totally immune to flames due to yet another bug. So don't go telling me that fire works okay. It very clearly doesn't.

    Safe fire is wrong on both a conceptual level AND on a gameplay level. It contradicts what the player expects, and it fails to add a new behavior to improve battle. I don't know why you would argue for keeping a mechanic that fails to function except in the most hilariously broken and nonsensical way.
     

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