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.