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  1. I think it's time for another update on our progress on Xenonauts-2 as I've been alluding to cool new stuff for several weeks now. I'm not going to show off any media yet, but I am going to fill you in on what we've been doing for the past couple of months and what our thinking currently is with Xenonauts-2. Setting: The key thing to know is this - both the aliens and the Xenonauts are trying to keep their existence secret. The aliens are VERY few in number and don't have the military power to destroy Earth, so are trying to start a nuclear war that will wipe out most of humanity first (using infiltrators and psionic powers to raise global tensions and suppress any evidence of their existence). The Xenonauts are even fewer in number and must keep stay in the shadows otherwise the aliens if the aliens are not to find them and wipe them out. Because the world governments have been partially infiltrated by aliens, the Xenonauts cannot work too closely with them or risk being discovered. Strategy Mechanics: Basically we've shifted the strategy layer away from just being a clone of Xenonauts 1 and we've drawn some additional inspiration from Jagged Alliance. Most of this is on the strategic side rather than the tactical combat (so don't expect us to add the prone stance etc in the combat), but it includes things like: The staff available for hire are no longer randomly generated; they're the same each game. There's currently 40 and they are priced differently depending on their skills. We expect the player to have 10-15 staff in total towards the end of the game. There's no distinction between soldiers / scientists / etc. Each person has a competency rating in Combat, Science, Technical and Communication and you can set any to do any role, and use any of them on the battlefield. The base functionality is now generated mostly by assigning staff to buildings - e.g. a lab doesn't produce science until you put someone in it, and it produces more science the better that person's Science rating is. The combat missions are flown (although not always fought) at night, so people can perform a task in-base during the day and then still fight a combat mission at night. However there is a fatigue system that stops you from pushing your staff too hard - they accumulate a lot very quickly if you don't let them sleep. You can't do every combat mission - the number of combat missions you can run is limited by the airworthiness of the dropship. If you want to run more missions you can assign engineers to help repair it faster, but obviously those staff could be doing other things instead. We've borrowed the "covert operations" from the XCOM 2 expansion, which are small non-playable missions with skill requirements that invite you to send one or two people away for X days in order to receive a reward (basically they force you to shuffle your assignments and combat teams regularly instead of always using the same guys in a given role). In short, we've zoomed the focus in a bit. The base is smaller but more detailed - e.g. the current mechanics tie the rate of staff stress regeneration to how comfortable the base is, so having enough living space and fresh food and a rec room lets them recover from missions faster. I'd like to make the stores management deeper if we can, too. Plenty of scope to do cool stuff here. To make the alien invasion more strategic, we've made things last longer on the Geoscape. The player is actively choosing from a multitude of missions which ones they think will best advance their strategic position, rather than in Xenonauts 1 when you were reacting to what the aliens did as soon as it happened. The aliens themselves are now persistent missions on the map; they slowly generate infiltration markers in the region they are in, reducing Xenonaut relations with that region and bringing the world closer to nuclear war. Launching a mission and killing that alien removes the infiltration markers, but it also levels up that race and makes all future missions more difficult against, say, the Sebillians. Kill enough of that race and they drop out of the war entirely. The other key strategy mechanic is Threat, which is a bit like the wanted level in Grand Theft Auto - it goes up when you attack the aliens, and declines over time. If reaches a certain level, the aliens launch an attack on your base. Not all combat missions generate threat, as not all involve fighting the aliens - there's plenty of missions available where you are stealing resources from local governments etc that you can do instead if your threat is too high. So base attack missions are still in the game, but you have direct control over when they will (or will not) happen. Ground Combat Mechanics: As a result of the setting shift, we want an alien to be something that the player should fear on the battlefield (not something a random dude with an M16 can deal with). So instead of a mission containing a dozen aliens, missions will now usually feature a single powerful and tough "boss" alien and a dozen weaker human bodyguards. This is thematically appropriate, but also the majority of the combatants being humans with weaker weapons mean your soldiers should suffer more serious wounds and fewer RNG instakills, which should improve the gameplay. If you're wondering how the Combat Rating feeds into combat stats, the idea is that it controls the Accuracy and Bravery of the soldier. HP, TU and Reflexes are now set by the armour equipped by the soldier, so lighter armour gives less HP but allows units to move faster and do more. Certain equipment will probably be gated by skills, too - so a first generation laser rifle might require a certain amount of Science to use it, or explosives might need a certain level of Technical, etc. I think that opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of battlefield equipment. Public Builds & Progress: Expect the public builds to restart in roughly a month, but don't expect the strategy to be included. We've been adding a lot more to the strategy layer than we originally expected (when we were just cloning X1), so whilst many of the features are already in place it's obviously going to take longer and need more testing. We will however be releasing more information, artwork and some UI screenshots in the near future. The public builds will be focusing on polishing up a single ground combat mission to be used in a Kickstarter. The action will be moving from the wilderness to a military base, with a new (non-box) UFO, better destructibility, and an extra layer of visual polish. I've taken over level design duties now so expect the new map to be more like the ones from Xenonauts 1 (more limited sight lines), and the improved map editor we've spent a long time working on means I can much more easily edit the existing map and generate new ones than before. In the slightly longer term I'd like to improve the ground combat AI, and also to try and implement a stealth system that is a cross between the one in XCOM2 and JA2. Basically this means the enemies don't turn hostile until they detect your forces, allowing you to scope out the map and the enemies before the fighting starts. We can potentially then add things like suppressed weapons to make the stealth phase more interesting, and hopefully set up the AI to react to detected events to allow diversions and so forth (e.g. if you set off a bomb elsewhere in the base then the aggressive forces will run in that direction, etc). That'll definitely take more than a few weeks though! Anyway, I'll report back with more concrete plans and show off some artwork in a few weeks, but I hope this post is enough to keep people abreast of our current progress and thinking. TL;DR - things are taking longer because we're adding some cool new stuff!
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