Chris

4th October Development Update

33 posts in this topic

Hello everybody. As it's been about a month since we brought V19 Stable out and there's no sign of a new experimental release, I thought I'd write a development update to explain what's happening.

Firstly, it's vacation time for the team. Aaron is off on his honeymoon for two weeks tomorrow, which he'll spend hiking around glaciers in Iceland. My "vacation" is slightly less exciting and has come about because the flat I was due to be moving into last week has not been finished yet and now I have nowhere in London to live. I've headed abroad to visit my family for a bit and am still working a bit, but it hasn't really helped production.

That's not to say we've not been making progress - it's just that we've been making progress on some rather boring things. We've rewritten the night mission lighting code, as that was very performance intensive and was causing noticeable slowdown particularly on slower machines. The new code is roughly 1,000 times faster, but ironing all the bugs and unusual behaviors out of it took the best part of a week.

Similarly, we spent a week rewriting the accuracy code to make it behave a bit better. Previously it suffered from a problem where shots would ALWAYS hit a (standing) unit if they passed through that tile, which caused issues when shots missed. For example, at close range units would have to turn 45 degrees to not hit the target. There was also an exploit where firing at the ground tile directly behind a target would pretty much guarantee a hit on them.

The new formula allows shots to pass through units. Missed shots can now hit behind the target, or even the tile they are standing on, without injuring the target. Additionally, all shots are 50% less likely to hit a unit unless you are specifically aiming at that unit. This fixes a lot of the exploits and should cut down on accidental hits and friendly fire by about 50%.

This is a big improvement to the game, but it has been a *lot* of work and that's why we waited for V19 Stable to be complete before we started work on it. We're now working on smaller things like getting the new jetpack animations in the game etc.

GJ is back at work on the AI. His most recent fix is that aliens now target vehicles correctly, but he's also working on fixing a number of other issues with the AI.

Aaron's done new maps and increased the randomisation for the Industrial and Arctic tilesets significantly, and he'll do the remaining tilesets when he gets back. The new Tundra tileset, Abduction missions and indoor Terror Missions are also still planned, though the latter two may be rolled together. Tile paintovers continue and the Alien Base tiles are now all done (and look awesome), so we're on the Xenonaut base - the final tileset left to paint over.

The new UI is coming along too. We're discussing the final changes to the last few screens - the big merge of the new UI code and our normal dev branch will probably start next week. The "progression" art for the various screen backgrounds is also on track to be completed for a Christmas release and I'm busy getting the new base tiles done to replace the existing base structure artwork. It's in a blueprint style that I think works much better than what we had before: http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/basemap.jpg

That's about all there is to report, I think. We'll start work on putting together V20 Experimental 1 in just over two weeks, as both Aaron and I will be back in the office then. Expect something around the end of the month.

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Really like the new look out. and am looking forward to be playing more in the new settings :)

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We've rewritten the night mission lighting code,
The new formula allows shots to pass through units.

Awwww yeah!

Thank you very much.

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Have a nice vacation, you are all doing great work.

Have yet to play the game - but looks like it is going to be a favourite of mine once I get some vacation time myself to get to play.

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Congratulations Aaron!

"Similarly, we spent a week rewriting the accuracy code to make it behave a bit better. Previously it suffered from a problem where shots would ALWAYS hit a (standing) unit if they passed through that tile, which caused issues when shots missed. For example, at close range units would have to turn 45 degrees to not hit the target. There was also an exploit where firing at the ground tile directly behind a target would pretty much guarantee a hit on them."

"The new formula allows shots to pass through units. Missed shots can now hit behind the target, or even the tile they are standing on, without injuring the target. Additionally, all shots are 50% less likely to hit a unit unless you are specifically aiming at that unit. This fixes a lot of the exploits and should cut down on accidental hits and friendly fire by about 50%." - OK this is just plain awesome! I considered this problem the only remaining truly bad thing in the game. Now it will be banished! HURRAH! I'm glad some of my ideas made it into the game even if it was also suggested by others too. You guys really listen to the customer and will be successful!

Like the new base layouts. As far as I'm concern you really only need a few tweaks to the AI (like alien grenades) and maybe a couple of fixes to some combat mechanics and you'll be good to go. The rest of the stuff is relatively minor. Then it's just a matter of getting the difficulty levels set.

Edited by StellarRat

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Brilliant, love the accuracy fixes. :)
I know, right? :D That also means that a lot of the misses are going to chew up the cover the target is standing in too! This is so cool!

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Yeah, congratulations to Aaron!

Oh, and Xenonauts is awesome. : ) Those sound like interesting developments to me

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Ah, so you have decided to take on Firaxis, blow their silly little game away, put them into bankruptcy, buy the company for £4.99 plus a packet of woodbine's then rename it to Firhawk? That, is a very good plan Chris.

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Hi Chris. It's been a while since I checked on the progress of Xenonauts, which is a fantastic game. One thing I immediately noticed upon launching the latest build is the changed geoscape map. I personally much prefer the old, dark one, which always feel very ominous and moody to me, a vibe which I loved this game for. I also loved the stark contrasts of day and night on the map. Can we possibly have an option to choose which to use in the game settings?

Additionally, an area which I've always felt could use refining is the actual soldier portraits. I think that they can be improved to enhance feel and immersion quite a lot, as right now they seem like cut-out paper portraits featuring droopy-faced soldiers. Other than that, I'm enjoying this project very much.

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Hi Chris. It's been a while since I checked on the progress of Xenonauts, which is a fantastic game. One thing I immediately noticed upon launching the latest build is the changed geoscape map. I personally much prefer the old, dark one, which always feel very ominous and moody to me, a vibe which I loved this game for. I also loved the stark contrasts of day and night on the map. Can we possibly have an option to choose which to use in the game settings?

Additionally, an area which I've always felt could use refining is the actual soldier portraits. I think that they can be improved to enhance feel and immersion quite a lot, as right now they seem like cut-out paper portraits featuring droopy-faced soldiers. Other than that, I'm enjoying this project very much.

Those droopy-faced soldiers is actually one of the reasons I like Xenonauts. I am in total love with the visual style of this game. The soldiers look so weary, like the war is slowly eating away at them. It's very fitting IMO.

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Thanks for the update, looking forward to the changes!

The new style does look better overall, I can see the original brush styled airplane has been replaced by a more cartoonish image fitting the overall art more. The blueprint is a nice touch, could also be applied for the weapons xenopedia sites.

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Hi Chris. It's been a while since I checked on the progress of Xenonauts, which is a fantastic game. One thing I immediately noticed upon launching the latest build is the changed geoscape map. I personally much prefer the old, dark one, which always feel very ominous and moody to me, a vibe which I loved this game for. I also loved the stark contrasts of day and night on the map. Can we possibly have an option to choose which to use in the game settings?

Additionally, an area which I've always felt could use refining is the actual soldier portraits. I think that they can be improved to enhance feel and immersion quite a lot, as right now they seem like cut-out paper portraits featuring droopy-faced soldiers. Other than that, I'm enjoying this project very much.

There's no way to change the soldier art at this stage, even if we wanted to, as it's too big a job.

Regarding the old map, it may be possible. The art itself is just a straight image swap, but the maps don't have identical landmass edges so different continent masks etc are used. They still work now, but I'm not sure if all the old art and continent masks will be compatible with the game at the end of development so I can't really say at this point.

Also bear in mind that when the new UI arrives, the old dark Geoscape will be much more inconsistent with the rest of the menus than it is at the moment.

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Additionally, an area which I've always felt could use refining is the actual soldier portraits.

Hi Delicieuxz! Check out this mode by Jsleezy and you just might find what you are looking for :): http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/7357-Jsleezy-s-Real-Fighter-Portrait-Pack

He has done some impressing work on the portraits, and also started revamping the armours...

Edited by zolobolo

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The game is really starting to shape up nicely. The main thing I wanna say I think is worry about the UI less. Other people's priorities might be different and I suppose the relative amount of work might be weighted to the UI side of things but I want to see the game mechanics working tight and with very few bugs more more than I want to see it look beautiful but play mediocre. Examples at the front of my mind (I'm actually writing this in the steam in-game overlay) might be the lingering UFO icons on the geo screen or awkward alien disk behaviour/targeting.

Having a blast with this built though.

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Good work. I can not wait to start a new game Xenonauts. But only when a new version is out. And I still hope that the base and terrorist operations Interestingly be made. ^ ^

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Hey great job - ist gonna be the best X-Com heir around for a long time - keep it up - like the portraits - you should really use them - they look way more mature ;-)

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