Chris posted this on the old forum and it covers a lot of points that come up... repeatedly. (to put it mildly)
As we've been around for a while now, a lot of questions keep poppoing up. In this thread, we've compiled a list of the most popular questions and our answers to them. Please check it before you post!
Features from X-Com:
Will there be blaster bombs in the game?
Will there be Chryssalids in the game?
Will there be psionic powers in the game?
Will I still be able to sell manufactured items at a profit?
Will there be night missions?
Will there be underwater missions?
Will I still be able to rename soldiers?
Why are there no female soldiers in the game?
Will soldiers equipment loadout be stored from mission to mission?
Can I customise the position of the soldiers in the dropship?
How do soldiers increase their attributes?
How do soldiers increase their ranks?
Does the player start with a team of well-trained soldiers?
Vehicles & Aircraft:
Will vehicles gain battlefield experience?
Will vehicles be customizable?
Will interceptor pilots gain experience or have stats?
Your choice of gun for (insert gun type here) is wrong! This is unrealistic!
Will there be different variants on the starting weapons (eg. will there be a choice between AK47s and M16s for the assault rifle)?
Will there be unique special weapons dropped by the aliens?
Will there be melee weapons and melee attacks?
What’s the thinking behind the different tiers of weapons?
How does the cover system work?
Will you tell me about armour and the health system?
Morale. What’s the point?
Will the player be able to call in off-map fire support (artillery, gunships etc)?
Will there be weapon emplacements/defences in the base-defence missions?
Can bases collaborate with research and manufacturing?
Will you sell via digital distribution (ie. Steam)?
How did you decide on the price of $29.99?
Can you play as the aliens?
Will there be multiplayer?
Can the map be rotated?
Will you have a beta test?
Will there be a demo?
How can I help out Xenonauts?
Features from X-Com:
Q. I really liked Blaster Bombs in the original X-Com! They were so cool! Will they be in Xenonauts?
A. No, we consider them to unbalanced a weapon to include. Being able to fire without LOS allows the player to hide his units away from danger, which enormously reduces the tension and fear in the game. They are also very frustrating to play against, as there is no real defence against blaster bombs and having to rely on luck in a mission is not good game design.
Q. I really liked Chryssalids in the original X-Com! They were so cool! Will they be in Xenonauts?
A. Something very much like them will appear in the game, except even worse. You’ll have to wait till you actually play the game to find out how though!
Q. Will psionic powers be making a return?
A. For the alien side, yes. For the human side, no. Psionics inspire tension and terror that conventional weapons do not, and for that reason it would be foolish of us to leave them out. However, they will not be available for the human side as they don't really fit with the style of game we're going for. Additionally, we feel powers like Mind Control vastly unbalanced the original X-Com.
Q. Will we still be able to sell manufactured items for a profit?
A. No, the player will be able to sell them but only at a loss. You will be reliant on monthly funding tried to your performance, or from selling captured items.
Q. Will there be day and night missions?
A. Yes, there will be. Similarly we intend to implement flares etc in a manner similar to the original.
Q. Will there be underwater missions?
A. No, but with a a showerhead and a little indoor plumbing, you should be able to enjoy the desired game experience.
Q. Will I still be able to rename soldiers?
A. Yes, you can.
Q. Will there be female soldiers in the game?
A. No, I’m afraid not. This is not because of deep-seated prejudices amongst women, but because we’re using sprites. We already have to render every armour type with every weapon from 8 different directions, which is in the region of 100,000 frames of animation. If we had female soldiers, we’d have to double that. There will however be female civilians.
This is the same reason why all the soldiers on the battlefield are white – there are ethnic soldiers in the art, but adding non-white soldiers would also double the number of animation frames required.
Female soldiers are now present in the game!
The developers decided that the differences between male and female soldiers in most armour types was negligible so the same sprites could be used on the ground.
Different images are used where the differences would be noticeable, for example the basic armour and in the base screens.
Q. Will soldiers' equipment loadout be stored from mission to mission?
A. Yes. You won't have to re-equip them every mission.
Q. Will we be able to arrange soldiers in the dropship in any order we want?
A. Yes. If you want your toughest (or perhaps most expendable) guy to be the closest to the exit ramp, you can set him to start there.
Q. How do soldiers improve their attributes?
A. Soldiers learn and improve their skills by using them. A soldier who fires his weapon enough times on the battlefield will gain bonuses to Accuracy, while a soldier who has taken sufficient numbers of morale checks will earn a bonus to their Bravery (and so on for the other stats).
These are running totals; the shots or morale checks could be earned across multiple missions. However, there is a cap on how many points can be earned on any one mission so ‘training’ your skills is not possible. One thing is for certain though – soldiers who get left behind in the dropship every mission won’t be gaining any experience!
Q. How do soldiers increase in rank, and what attributes does it offer?
A. Soldiers are promoted once they have earned a set number of attribute increases on the battlefield (in any statistic), with later ranks requiring more attribute increases to attain promotion. Rank is not tied to the number of soldiers the player has – you can have a team entirely comprised of Commanders if you are skilful enough!
Increased rank provides a bonus to the morale of the rest of the team (and therefore psionic defence). This also works in reverse, so bringing newly recruited Rookies along to the fight actually provides a morale penalty to the team, at least until they have earned their stripes in battle and been promoted to Corporals.
Q. Does the player start with a team of experienced soldiers?
A. The Xenonauts have existed as an organisation for over twenty years before the alien invasion fleet arrived, so the player takes control of a team of twelve highly-trained soldiers. These soldiers, consisting of eleven Corporals and one Sergeant, have significantly higher statistics than new recruits and therefore will provide the core of the player’s strike team in the early stages of the game. They are not expendable - try not to get them killed!
Vehicles & Aircraft:
Q. Will vehicles gain experience and improved stats on the battlefield?
A. Nope. Only soldiers will gain experience on the battlefield. Though vehicles technically have drivers and gunners etc, the player does not need to manage these staff or even provide them living quarters. This is to streamline the game and avoid feature bloat, and to encourage players to use their soldiers rather than relying on vehicles.
Q. Will I be able to customise my vehicles?
A. Yes. The player will be able to choose what weapons to equip their vehicles with (though there are some limitations on what chassis types can carry what weapon types). You will therefore be able to upgrade your vehicles, and equip them for specific missions, without having to research a whole new vehicle.
Q. Will interceptor pilots gain experience and have stats?
A. No. Air combat is meant to be streamlined and quick, as you'll be doing it countless times during the course of a game and it should not feel like a chore. Therefore we don't want to overcomplicate the process, and we think adding pilots would do that.
Q. Your choice of gun for (insert gun type here) is wrong! This is unrealistic!
A. This is technically not a question, but it crops up a lot. The starting weapons have been chosen to fill specific battlefield roles, and are based on stereotypes in gaming culture. In reality a shotgun may not be of much use against body armour, but anyone who plays games regularly intuitively knows that shotguns are excellent close-quarter weapons. The weapons chosen to fill these roles are reasonably historically accurate, but if there are elements of unrealism in their stats/battlefield role then it has been done for the sake of game balance, which we consider far more important.
Q. I notice most of the starting weaponry is NATO weaponry - will there be Soviet weaponry like the AK47 in the game too? Also, why is there only one type of assault rifle etc - why can't we have 3 or 4 different types to allow greater customisation?
A. There will not be other ballistic weaponry available beyond the basic starting gear. The reason for this is that there are already large numbers of weapons in the game at various tech levels, and we don't see the need to pad out the starting weapon selection unnecessarily. Additionally, all the starting weapons have a set battlefield 'role' that is in keeping with the perception of that weapon (the shotgun is a superb close-range weapon, for instance).
It could confuse new players if they had to choose between several slightly different variants of an assault rifle with only cosmetic differences between them. Players will be free to mod in their own weapon choices/artwork after release, but we do not see it as worth development time.
Goldhawk have released some additional weapon images for use by modders and have added a second assault rifle using the AK47 artwork for use by Soviet military NPC's. This is currently only obtainable from the ground missions.
Q. Will there be unique, one off, items in the game like special weapon drops?
A. No. The game isn't about 'loot' so we don't think it's fitting with the spirit of X-Com.
Q. Will there be melee weapons and melee attacks?
A. Yes, the starting stun baton will be melee only and will be used for subduing aliens in the same way as the stun rod in X-Com. There will also be a default melee attack using whatever weapon the soldier has equipped, the damage done based on the strength of the soldier (and possibly modified by the weight of the weapon equipped). There will not be any specialist melee weapons or attachments beyond this, however, as melee weapons don't make sense to the dev team in an environment where there are extremely powerful projectile weapons around - melee should definitely be a last resort only!
Q. What’s the thinking behind the different tiers of weapons?
A. The starting weapons allow a player to equip his troops for whatever role he wants to use them in. Rifles are general purpose weapons and pistols are good for scouts, while shotguns excel up close and the precision rifle is a superb sniping weapon.
Higher ‘tiers’ of weapons (ie, laser and plasma weapons in the original X-Com) will also have different variants for different roles, although the details of the ‘tiers’ have not yet been released. This is to stop ‘Give every soldier a Heavy Plasma’ syndrome that rather afflicted the original X-Com. In general, each weapon will be superior to its equivalent in the tier below, but be heavier, harder to aim and more costly to build and maintain.
There are also a number of specialist items and heavy weapons that exist outside the general model listed above, for example the flamethrower and rocket launcher in the starting weapons.
Q. How does the cover system work?
A. Xenonauts uses a directional cover system. In an isometric grid, each unit has eight surrounding tiles. Each of the eight tiles provides a cover value to that soldier, and provides a measure of protection against damage coming from that direction (if a shot comes from between two tiles, a hybrid value is used).
Thus a soldier hiding behind a stone wall will receive good protection from immediately in front of him, but if a soldier flanks him and shoots him from the side (or lobs a grenade over the wall so it lands behind him), he will receive no protection.
Q. Will you tell me about armour and the health system?
A. Each soldier has a HP value, and being injured reduces both the soldier’s current HP and maximum HP. The former can be healed on the battlefield using medipacks, but the latter can only be healed with recuperation time on the Geoscape after the battle is over. Soldiers can be sent into battle injured (up to a point), but suffer AP penalties for doing so.
A soldier is considered ‘dead’ for the purposes of the mission if they reach 0HP, but they are not necessarily dead in game terms. A soldier has a chance of surviving the mission with a long injury lay-off, but this chance is reduced the more damage they have taken below 0HP, and after a certain amount of damage this falls to zero.
Armour works by mitigating the damage received by a soldier, reducing the damage taken by a set amount. However, weapons also have armour mitigation values, which reduce the armour mitigation by a corresponding amount. An assault rifle and a precision rifle would do fairly similar damage against unarmoured targets, but the precision rifle would do substantially more against an armoured target due to its superior armour mitigation value.
Q. Morale. What’s the point?
A. Morale provides a measure of how likely a soldier is to panic and lose all his APs for the turn, or panic and start running away or firing his weapons in random directions. Morale also provides a soldier’s defence against alien psionic attack, as a frightened soldier is more likely to succumb to mental attacks.
Morale is initially derived from a combination of their Bravery statistic and the ranks of the soldiers in the team. Once the battle begins it is affected positively by killing aliens and proximity to fellow soldiers, and affected negatively by injury and the loss of civilians and teammates (with a higher penalty for the loss of more experienced soldiers).
Q. Will the player be able to call in off-map fire support (artillery, gunships etc)?
A. No, for the same reason why the blaster bombs have been removed. Any weapons that don’t require line-of-sight (excepting a couple of alien psionic powers) remove a lot of the tension from the game because they reduce the danger that the player is exposing his men to, so we’re avoiding them.
Q. Will there be weapon emplacements/defences in the base-defence missions?
A. No. We want the focus to be on infantry combat, and besides it would be a lot of additional coding to implement. But mostly we don’t want to overcomplicate things.
Q. Can bases collaborate with research and manufacturing?
A. They can collaborate between bases on research, but not manufacturing. We found this is the best blend of convenience and realism.
Q. Will the game be sold over Steam or any other method of digital distribution?
A. Yes, we intend to get the game on Steam if at all humanly possible. If not, then we'll look at alternative methods of digital distribution, such as Impulse from Stardock etc. Assuming the Steam contract is non-exclusive, we will also have non-Steam digital distribution alternatives for those of you who hate Valve for whatever reason.
Q. How did you decide on the price of $29.99?
A. We believe that Xenonauts is a large project comparable to many AAA titles in scope, and hopefully also in quality. Given that many AAA games are released at prices closer to $50 than $30 nowadays, we believe $29.99 is a fair price for the game. Also, much as we’d like to operate as a charity, members of the team have taken on significant amounts of financial risk to produce the game, so it would be wrong to operate the company as anything other than a business. We believe $29.99 represents a reasonable return on our investment without being so expensive it would price people out of buying it.
Q. Can you play as the aliens?
A. No, we’ve only got enough time to create one game. Plus it'd be far too easy.
Q. Will there be multiplayer functionality?
A. No. We’d have liked to, but unfortunately we don’t have the time or budget to make it a reality.
Q. I have a new idea for an alien monster, why don't you put it in your game?
A. Because all of the aliens have been concepted and are in the process of being modelled and animated, so it’s a bit late in the day to add new aliens to the game (no matter how exciting they may be). You could always mod them in after release though!
Q. Can the map be rotated?
A. No, all tiles are pre-rendered and touched up for that retro "painted" look.
Q. Will you have a beta test?
A. Yes, everyone who pre-orders the game will be eligible for beta testing. See the pre-order page for details.
Q. Will there be a demo?
A. Yes, we will make a demo available after the game is released. It will be the same content-limited (ie, it won’t feature the full tech tree) version of the game that had previously been used for the beta testing, but of course you won’t have a chance to influence the direction and balancing of the game with your opinions.
Q. How can I help out Xenonauts and the dev team?
A. The two most helpful things you can do are to participate in the community on our forums, and to pre-order the game when we make it available. We’d hugely appreciate both of those.
If you want to join the team, see what roles we have available on our Vacancies page.