Chris

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About Chris

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    Project Lead, Xenonauts
  1. I expect there to be quite a lot of this in the short term. While some fans are very happy with the idea of X1 but with better graphics etc, other people want a more radical departure from the original game. Unfortunately for the reasons listed in my original post I don't think we can cater to the second group of fans in the short term - changing and experimenting with new mechanics is more time consuming (and thus expensive) than using ones we already know work, so it makes sense to only do that once we're past the stage where it might derail the whole project. You're right though that the media we put out needs to emphasize the differences between the first and second game where possible. Still, if people aren't clear about what our intentions regarding development are (i.e. sprinting for a working game first) then they might be disappointed when they actually play it and find that the early builds are quite similar to the original game. Expanding in more detail on the changes that we plan to try out once we've hit the first milestone would probably help; I'll likely do that next week. That might be the difference between the sequel looking like a 3d rehash and looking like a work in progress.
  2. One of the other limitations on our Kickstarter rewards that I should have mentioned earlier is that we're not willing to give out creative control on the game to high-level Kickstarter backers - e.g. allowing people to name or design a character or alien in the game. The main reason is that they might do a terrible job of it, and then we would have made the game worse for everyone by chasing the money of an individual Kickstarter backer (which would be lame). The second is that those things don't really scale, as there's not that many alien races or characters etc to name. The ideal would be things like creating a custom soldier. You get a code for your custom soldier to input into the game and then that soldier always spawns in your starting combat team, but doesn't necessarily ever appear in other people's games. It's something specifically for the backer that doesn't affect other users, and therefore we could sell it to twenty thousand people just as easily as you could to a single person. Nonetheless, I appreciate the suggestions - coming up with good reward ideas is hard!
  3. Hello everyone - happy new year! Now we've returned from the Christmas holidays and had a few days to settle back into things, we've had some internal meetings about our plans for the coming year. This post is a quick summary on what we've got scheduled. Next Build: In the short term, we'll be releasing a new public build of the game. We're hoping for the tail end of next week (Thursday?) but it might be pushed back into the week after dependent on how the work goes, and it should include these features: Outlines for soldiers hidden behind solid objects "Cutaways" for objects that are above the current camera view level (e.g. trees, building roofs, etc) Smoother and more responsive unit movement animations A new map in an Industrial dockyard tileset, hopefully supporting layout randomisation in some form Potentially also a reskin of the GC UI First Development Milestone: We talked a bit more about the longer term planning and did some worst-case financial forecasting. I think it's important for us to plan appropriately for alpha funding so there's minimal chance for our backers to get screwed over, and what this means is that we've decided our priority should be to deliver the minimum viable product for Xenonauts 2 as soon as possible. Once we reach that point we can ship the game at any point and our backers will have a completed game that they will hopefully enjoy, and any extra money can be used to extend development and improve the game further. This avoids a situation where we have an incomplete game and no money to finish it. This sounds like common sense, but it feeds into a deeper question about Xenonauts 2: what do we want the sequel to be? Well, in my view, the minimum viable product for Xenonauts-2 is the first game with enhanced 3D graphics and map randomisation. Of course, this is just the first phase of our development plan. We're not planning to stop there and, if funding allows, then we'll continue to add new content and balance and improve the game mechanics (or add entirely new ones). But I am specifically trying to avoid a situation where we start experimenting with new systems too early, run out of money, then end up with something that is incomplete / worse than the original game. The reason why I mention this is because over the coming few months you're going to see some of the content and systems from X1 reappearing in the sequel, apparently with very little changed. Please don't take this as a lack of originality on the part of the developers; we're just sprinting towards a working proxy of the first game before we start attempting any big changes because that's the safest way to develop. This has the advantage of allowing you to test these new ideas and systems in a live game, so you can test the game before and after the changes and then give us an informed opinion on how they change the experience of playing the game (which is usually much more useful than theorycrafting about abstract ideas that nobody has played yet). Please also remember that all this is worst-case scenario planning - if the game raises anything like the funding that the first game raised on Kickstarter or Early Access, we're not going to have any financial issues at all. I'm probably being overly cautious here, but that's probably better than the reverse. Oh, and one more thing - I know Xenonauts 1 with better graphics sounds kinda dull, but even our minimum product would be a substantial upgrade over the first. Here's a promotional screenshot we're currently working on ... although not actually in-game, this is all posed in-engine using game assets and taken via the in-game camera, except the UI (a Photoshop mockup based on the X1 UI). Doesn't look too bad, does it? That's the "worst" you can expect from X2. Kickstarter & Commercialisation: We've been talking about all that stuff (and working on the promotional screenshots etc) because we're moving into active planning for the Kickstarter. We're hoping to do this at some point in March. Free builds will continue until the end of the Kickstarter, at which point we'll start preparing for the Early Access launch (likely testing the EA builds using beta testers drawn from the Kickstarter backers). This means we'll be starting active promotion of the public builds soon, either with the next major update or the following one - I think addressing the UI, the view-blocking objects, cleaning up the animations and finally adding a new map will get us to a state where the game is presentable to non-hardcore fans. In terms of the Geoscape, we might also be able to cobble together a reasonably functional proxy of the X1 Geoscape in the next six to eight weeks. It's a big job but some of the functionality is already there, and we'll also take the opportunity to add in our dialogue screens which tell the new story and provide exposition beyond that contained in the research projects. The specific non-build things we're currently working on are: The new Xenonauts.com is nearly ready, and will be a hub for both X1 and X2 (Xenonauts2.com will just redirect to it). We're working on some nice promotional artwork of the various environments (e.g. the image posted above). We're pushing ahead with the randomisable soldier portraits, which we'll need for the rewards. Kickstarter Rewards: I'm floating this early because I know community feedback on our proposed Kickstarter rewards was very valuable last time around! We're currently planning a £40,000 / $50,000 Kickstarter pitched like our first one: we've got enough budget to ship the minimum game, but we're trying to raise money to fund extra development time that will allow us to improve it further. I can currently think of two Kickstarter tiers that would work well: $25 - a copy of the game $50 - a copy of the game, plus you get to put yourself in the game as a soldier (creating a face via the face creator tool) Unfortunately, I can't really think of much more than that! I'm *very* keen to avoid physical rewards because I think we made a net loss on those in our first Kickstarter once you include shipping, even if you ignore the cost of the hours I spent organising them - the art book in particular was a massive endeavor! On the other hand, putting yourself in the game as a soldier was immensely popular during the first Kickstarter even though the custom portraits were only available at the $200 tier. Unfortunately having our artist hand-paint a portrait from photographs cost most of the $50 marginal cost of these portraits, so we can't really do that this time round either. Instead, we're hoping people will be able to create a reasonable approximation of themselves using our face generator. Because the portraits in our game are split into layers (e.g. head, hair, eyes, eyebrows, nose, ear, facial hair, etc) it's possible to generate lots of different portraits and we should hopefully be able to avoid the portrait repetition of the first game. But we're also going to put together a program that allows people to manually cycle through all the options for each layer to try and make something that resembles them. We've not yet done enough facial feature variations to give it a test but we hope it'll be a nice way of letting people customise "their" soldier without being incredibly expensive to the dev team. I'm going to throw it open to the floor here - do you like the sound of that? Would you pay $25 extra to create a custom soldier for yourself? Can you think of digital higher tier rewards (other than creating more custom soldiers) that aren't too expensive for us to deliver? Happy to listen to thoughts and comments on any of the above. More details on the next build will be provided as they come in, and we'll discuss the Kickstarter in more detail as it approaches!
  4. Yeah, we're back now. I expect another release in the next two week but I'm not sure exactly when it will be yet as we're making some quite big changes to the level editor right now. We'll be having some big team meetings tomorrow and setting our internal goals for the new few weeks, so I expect to do another proper status update this week that will give you a bit more information on the path to our next release and the upcoming Kickstarter.
  5. Is the forum not fully visible to people who haven't got an account? I was under the impression everyone could read it.
  6. Just a quick news post to let everyone know that we've officially shut down for Christmas. A few of the team are still working on things but I won't be back around until the 3rd January. We've already got a headstart on some of the cool features we've got slated for early next year, like the map randomisation code and our new animation system and our civilian models, so hopefully we'll be making some real fast progress when January rolls around. Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful festive season and a happy new year!
  7. Did you actually have a crash to desktop? If so, did you have crash reporting enabled? I can't see the crash anywhere on our system. I'll get GJ to reply to your query anyways. Thanks Max for your various feedbacks. We're working on the movement animation as a priority so hopefully the new system will sort that out, if not then we'll take another look the speeds and heights etc then. The AP bar issue is a bug that we'll fix in the next build. Also remember we have have a proper editor for the unit stats etc so you won't need to manually edit the JSON files; we might start putting that our public builds early next year.
  8. We have just released an update to the free public build of Xenonauts 2 - this is free because it is a very early build of the game and we don't think the project is of the quality where we can reasonably expect everyone to pay for it; full details on where to get the build can be found in this thread. This build is just a quick hotfix for Version 0.1, which we put out a few days ago! CHANGELOG: Some crashes fixed that were linked to firing weapons. Xenonauts no longer spray purple blood and scream like aliens when injured. We've fixed some shader issues that mean the ground combat UI selection squares etc now display better. The loading screen quote text no longer has giant white writing on it. Dead units can no longer be controlled. Move path squares are no longer being double-placed in some situations. Escape key now opens the menu. You can no longer suppress friendlies around your soldier just by firing at distant enemies. Fixed some AI turn hangs, and a crash on overwatch. AI turn is a lot faster. Have fun, and please let us know if there's any obvious issues in this build as we'll be around to make fixes next week if they are needed!
  9. You're talking more about drones and support units more than X1-style vehicles then ... and there's no real reason that they couldn't exist, it's just that we're not planning to include them in Xenonauts 2 as a default player feature. I imagine adding a 1x1 scout / support unit like the X1 alien Light Drone would require very little effort at all, it'd probably just be a case of ensuring it didn't receive any combat XP. Potentially a human version of them is something we could even put in the vanilla game if I felt there was a niche for it. I have no intention of adding armoured cars and tanks to the game like we had in X1 though; I only did that because I felt I had to because the original X-Com had them. They're too big and powerful to work within the scale of combat we're looking to do.
  10. Vehicles are silly in any setting that is predominantly about small-squad infantry vs. infantry combat because they're simply too powerful. If a weapon can put a hole in an armoured car, why would it not instantly kill any human (or biological unit) that it hits? And why would any vehicle mounted weapon not be far superior to any infantry weapon? Even a basic humvee usually packs a 0.50cal machinegun that can put out an order of magnitude more firepower than a standard man portable rifle or LMG. And why would a dog need to be a vehicle? Just make it a standard combatant instead. In any case you're extrapolating based off your own assumptions (although kinda understandable given you've played X1) rather than genuine facts; you don't know that the game won't have 2x2 units and you don't know that you couldn't add dogs or whatever to it. This is why I don't want to go into much detail about specific systems until people can play with them themselves - focusing on a specific mechanic or feature removal can give a misleading overall impression.
  11. The air combat is pretty subordinate to the strategy layer design at the moment; we've got a few prototypes for how it could look but right now it's autoresolved with a UFO requiring a certain number of aircraft to shoot it down and having a % kill chance for each one that is tested independently. We'll choose an air combat model once we have an idea of what the strategy layer needs it to do. It would be good to have more complexity in terms of how many aircraft you are committing and what they are equipped with, though. @StellarRatThere's not going to be any vehicles in the game, I'm afraid. For now the planes are just the X1 equivalents as well, but we might make redesign them and make nice animated 3d models of them once we know the shape of the air combat a bit better.
  12. I'll ask the coders to check if our error tracker has ridden to the rescue and saved the crash the data
  13. Yup, the maps are kinda blocky at the moment. That can be changed, but it's a question of whether we want to. There's two reasons why the maps currently look a bit blocky: 1) The cliff walls are only 10cm deep at the moment, as they sit on the edge of tiles and intrude into them. If we make them too thick then they'll potentially clip into units that are standing in those tiles. The cliffs were 20cm thick in our earlier builds but I had them reduced to make the map tidier; potentially I went a bit too far though because the tiles are 1.5m wide and there's quite a lot of space in each one. Having more depth on the rock walls makes the map look a bit less blocky. 2) The second thing is battlefield readability. We actually had a less blocky looking map before our initial public build, with lots of vegetation and detail rocks breaking up the shape of the level and making it look more natural ... but it turns out it's actually very hard to figure out where tiles start and end under that system, so it's difficult to process where you can move your soldiers and so forth. Makes it a bit frustrating to play. There's probably a balance to be found but you don't want to make the map feel too natural. Xenonauts 2 will initially be a lot like a stripped down version of Xenonauts 1 with better graphics, but that'll start to change once the game is playable and we can start experimenting with the new mechanics we have planned. However we've gotta make the game playable across both strategy and ground combat first, which means we'll draw heavily from X1 to get there. We'll probably add new aliens in X2, but even the existing ones should have more interesting abilities this time around that make them less samey. Things like the weapon tier upgrades are balance issues that we'll have more time to discuss once the game is playable but yeah, the idea is that X2 will build on the foundation of the first game and improve on the things it got wrong. Boring aliens and repetitive tech progression are two things we want to address but I think the solutions are better developed in conjunction with community playtesting than me theorycrafting about what the ideal solution is
  14. We have just released an update to the free public build of Xenonauts 2 - this is free because it is a very early build of the game and we don't think the project is of the quality where we can reasonably expect everyone to pay for it; full details on where to get the build can be found in this thread. If you want to see what progress we're making on the game content (like artwork etc) then you'll have to check out our November Progress Update, as this build is an attempt to address some of the more major code issues with the game and does not add any new content. We've reworked some major systems (e.g. line of sight, mouse input, etc) so there may well be some new bugs introduced; please report them if you see them as we're planning to put out small "fix" builds out over the next week or so to address them. New maps and environments, aliens, weapons etc will start coming after Christmas. CHANGELOG: Move paths and other in-world UI elements now draw above grass and other decorative vegetation. We've rewritten the input system to stop the crosshair and selection box being so jumpy We've improved the way the camera tracking works: When your units shoot, the camera more intelligently picks a focus point based on the positions of the shooter and the target Alien activity under the hidden movement screen should be displayed properly now, including both movement and shooting The Xenonauts and aliens have all had a fresh texture job to make their details "pop" a bit more at the camera distance we're using in the game. The camera angle and distance have been changed to be somewhat closer to the view in X1; we think that gives a more "strategic" feel Pressing End Turn no longer hangs the game for a few seconds Load times for the ground combat have been halved I've done a UI pass on the game, replacing programmer art with slightly superior game designer art. It's still fairly placeholder stuff, but: The Xenonauts font has returned on the ground combat UI elements, giving them a more appropriate style Colour consistency has also been improved; the predominantly blue GC elements now use more black Many element outlines have been sharpened up and made a bit neater We've switched to a plugin that improves on the Unity text rendering, so we should now have crisper text The move path has been updated: The green / orange / red move path squares from the first game have returned. The TU cost now displays "?" if you click on the shroud, preventing "scouting" the terrain via the move cost. The fog of war has been recoloured to be less aggressively blue. Units now have 16 sight range instead of 20, as they did in the original. Movement animations have been made less jerky, as previously units took the same amount of time to cross tiles diagonally as they did laterally (despite diagonally being a longer distance) Crouching units now play injury animations when they take damage Please let us know what issues you're experiencing, as we should now be able to fix all the camera / crosshair / UI etc issues once we're made aware of them. We've got a couple of weeks until we shut down for Christmas and we'll be releasing small fix builds in this time; I don't expect any major new updates to be put out before then. We're going to be targeting two main things for the next build in early January - one is the sub-map support which should let us start semi-randomly generating maps, and the other is the soldier animations system. Currently our code cannot plan actions in advance so a soldier doesn't know he's ended his movement until he's reached his destination tile, and then plays his "stop running" animation by jogging on the spot once he's already there - really he needs to know half a tile earlier, so he can slow down in time. I imagine we'll start work on both these things before our holidays, but neither are quick jobs! Thoughts, bugs and other feedback can be posted in this thread.
  15. Yup, we'll almost certainly have additional variants of each alien race in terms of armour - but that's a lower priority than getting all the main races modelled up and put in the game, so not for a few months at least.