So, it's been a long time since we released a new build. This is mostly down to Paypal, I'm afraid, but we have Build V8 due out next weekend (12th / 13th Nov) to make up for it and to dovetail into our full Desura-powered relaunch.
Build V7.5 was our first playable 'mission', and Build V8 is meant to be the first playable game of Xenonauts. It probably won't be particularly well balanced, but it will contain all the elements of the final game in at least basic form. It will be iterated several times, as it is intended to
These are the improvements over Build V7.5 that will be in Build V8:
- Geoscape Save / Load: You are now able to save and load the game on the Geoscape (not yet functional in the ground combat though). Small feature, big usability change.
- Title Screen: We've also added the title screen to the game. This gives you 4 difficulty setting options when starting a new game, and also allows key remapping if you so desire.
- Research: This has been in the development build for a while, but the next game will contain the first hour or two of the research tree for you to play with.
- Interface fixes: largely related to ground combat. A lot of people have commented on V7.5 both online and at the Expo that some things were a bit clunky when controlling your soldiers. We've tried to address them all - there's a few too many to list here.
- Fire Control system: If you were not shooting at terrain in an attempt to destroy it, it was previously very difficult to target a specific prop or cover wall because the game wouldn't let you aim at them. Now you can (and you get an accuracy boost because you're specifically shooting at them, not trying to shoot past them).
- Vaulting / Mantling: Waist-high walls are no longer the impenetrable barrier they once were! Your soldiers can now vault / mantle over them.
- New Cover System: there's been extensive debate on the forums over the merits of the previous cover system versus manual kneeling, as the two were not compatible. Long story short, we've updated the combat system so all kneeling is now manual (as in X-Com) and cover automatically provides a defence bonus when you are in a tile that offers cover. Kneeling increases that bonus, and both makes soldiers harder to hit and gives them an accuracy bonus. However it now also has an AP cost.
- Level Editor updates: We've also updated the level editor to better reflect the fact that a crash site can have different types of UFO on it, and different types of dropship too. Essentially these are handled on seperate layers and there is better randomisation of start location.
These are the improvements that will appear in build V8.x before it is sent to the press (ie, the stuff we'll be focusing all our development on over the next couple of weeks):
- Ground Combat Save / Loading: Important feature for a lot of people.
- Ground Combat Difficulty Setting: Currently the difficulty setting only affects the Geoscape. It should also affect the stats of the aliens and their weaponry in the ground combat too.
- Correct map loading: With the changes to the level editor, I want to change the game so it correctly loads the UFO type shot down to initiate the map (so you can run both Scout and Corvette crash site missions).
- New Animations: We've had to start rendering every single unit in the game again thanks to the changes to the cover system. We'll need all the basic troop animations for the basic weapons in the game before it goes to the press though.
- Mission Map randomisation: While the game will still only support one map (the testmap in the Industrial tileset) at this point, I want to improve the map so it shows off the randomisation capacities of the engine. So the buildings won't be the same every time, and hopefully we can show off the UFO / dropship location randomisation too.
- UFO tiles (hopefully): This one is still up in the air, but I'd like to get the UFO tiles in the game if possible. We've got a new tile artist who might be able to turn them around quite quickly - it's a bit strange capturing the Evil Alien Shed at the moment...
There may be other things that I've forgotten about, but in short there's been some pretty major updates and hopefully the gameplay will be considerably better than before.