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Chris

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Chris last won the day on June 12

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About Chris

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    Project Lead, Xenonauts
  1. I think you're misunderstanding the intention of the ground teams here. They're not ground-based anti-air vehicles, they're just exist on the Geoscape and are controlled in the same way as interceptors are. They don't interact with air units / events in the same way that aircraft don't interact with ground events. What they actually represent is a few of your soldiers travelling across the ground / sea by whatever method is most appropriate; either a jeep or a boat most likely (which is why they're much slower than aircraft). These guys will be able to deal with ground events that spawn randomly on the Geoscape (recruiting people, collecting UFO wreckage, improving local relations, etc) once they reach them, but the travel time can take a long time and you need to weigh up whether it's worth sending a team out to attempt to collect the reward or not (or maybe there's a limit on the number of ground teams you can have on the Geoscape at any one time). The other mechanic I feel could make this interesting is if alien facilities etc could spawn infiltration markers that cause problems in the local region. You can remove these markers by sending a few soldiers to them, or you could just destroy the alien facility - but if you're not strong enough to destroy the facility or you want to spend your time elsewhere, you've then got the ability to contain the infiltration just by stationing a ground team to the region. Once they're near the base they can quickly mop up any infiltration markers that spawn, which removes the infiltration threat from the alien base provided you're willing to tie up some of your troops for an extended length of time. Fundamentally I think that's more interesting than the X1 system where the alien bases bleed away relations directly and there's nothing you can do to stop it unless you destroy the base.
  2. With the Kickstarter just around the corner, I think it's important that these design threads accurately reflect our plans for the game. As such I've amended a few of the posts - the Geoscape, Air Combat and ATLAS Base. If you've already read those threads, I've summarised the changes here so you don't need to read them again. If you've not read those threads then skip this one and read them directly as the new information will make more sense in context. The major change to the design since I released all these threads has been to move the Geoscape from being turn-based back to the real-time setup that was used in the first Xenonauts, which also has ramifications for a couple of other systems. Why Realtime? I'll start by running you through the setup we had with the turn-based Geoscape. Basically, each turn was initially 24 hours long and UFOs / missions would last multiple turns on the Geoscape. You could launch each interceptor once per turn, and when you attempted an interception you were given a % chance of successfully catching that UFO based on the speed of your aircraft vs. that of the UFO. If you successfully caught the UFO and shot it down, a crash site was immediately spawned on the map. Most of what happens on the Geoscape in an X-Com game involves organising the air defence of your territory, so not being able to directly control your interceptors and control the speed of time just led to the strategy layer feeling a bit dull and uninteractive. We made three important changes to try and address this - the first was shortening the turns to 8 hours, the second was making UFOs move position and spawn Geoscape events between turns, and the third was to increase the interception chance based on how close the UFO was to the base the interceptors were stationed at. This resulted in a pretty close approximation of the X1 Geoscape mechanics in a turn-based setup ... and whilst it did have some advantages, it just didn't feel as interesting or complex as the X1 systems did. As I don't think it's wise to change the mechanics in an existing franchise without a compelling reason to do so, I decided we should switch back to the familiar realtime Geoscape and try some new mechanics to fix the weaknesses in the X1 Geoscape. Implementation Time: Changing from a turn-based to a realtime Geoscape isn't that difficult from a game logic perspective, but we are going to have to spend a bit of time getting the new interception mechanics working. Our previous abstracted interception mechanics meant that units didn't need a position on the Geoscape in the same way that they do in the simulated approach used in the realtime Geoscape, so we don't currently have a proper co-ordinate system that controls exactly where units are and which direction they are heading etc. This will take some time to implement but it isn't a *massive* task. It should be fully functional before the Kickstarter ends, assuming nothing unexpected crops up. X1 Geoscape Weaknesses & Potential Improvements: The first issue is information display - a turn-based Geoscape clearly presents you all the UFOs / missions / choices at the start of the turn. I think the X1 Geoscape could get annoying when batches of events may as well all have been presented at once, but instead kept popping up and interrupting you one at a time and making you reshuffle your units each time. So for example we'll probably make an effort to spawn a wave of three UFOs all together, rather than spawning the first at 12:07, the next at 12:09, etc. The second issue is the interception chance. In X1 the chance of an interceptor successfully catching a UFO had a large random element, because the UFOs would frequently change course and fly in a random direction. If they decided to fly directly towards your interceptor then even a slow interceptor could catch a fast UFO. If the UFO turned around and flew out of radar range, even a fast interceptor wasn't going to catch it in time. I think here the solution is just to make UFOs fly straighter for longer towards their targets, and limit the course changes to more shallow turns. This means the interceptions will have less random chance involved in them and the speed of the interceptor will be a bigger factor. Importantly, though, it also means UFOs will necessarily spawn further from their targets and have to cover more ground / sea to get there. This means the Geoscape Events spawned by UFOs will actually be useful in areas without radar coverage, as they'll show a rough trajectory of the UFO so you can make an educated guess about where it is heading and when it might reach your territory. The third issue is reactivity. In X1 the only UFOs that react to your aircraft are the air superiority fighters, which home in on your aircraft and attack them. I was thinking that it would be nice to add some additional behaviors to the UFOs that the players can manipulate; for example fast UFOs might not travel very fast most of the time but might speed up dramatically if an interceptor closes to within a certain range and then fly directly away from it. Because you can control the angle of attack of the interceptor, you could then use one interceptor to steer a fast UFO directly towards a second interceptor. I'm not sure how well something like that would work in practice, but I'm keen to try it out and see! And, hey, if none of those changes work, the worst that will happen is you're left with the interception mechanics from the first Xenonauts! Ramifications For Other Mechanics: Right now the plans for ATLAS Base being an off-map HQ and the airbases being where you station your interceptors on the Geoscape is unchanged, but that particular mechanic comes under more pressure under a realtime setup. The dropship is now something you'll see flying around on the map ... but if ATLAS is off-map, where does it come from? Narratively ATLAS is placed in Iceland, but in a realtime setup the flight time of the dropship actually matters in some situations (even if the dropship has global range). So having a main base that you cannot place where you want may be limiting for the player. Secondly, changing back to the X1 interception mechanics means that I once again need to consider the problem of the "air war" being far more important than the "ground war". One solution to this I'm considering is to expand the role of your soldiers on the strategy layer, allowing the player to send ground teams out on the geocsape in the same way that you can send out interceptors (except they are much slower and don't run out of fuel). This system is an expansion of the Geoscape Agent system, except instead of assigning staff to a region slot they're actually travelling the world map to do their various activities - improving relations, recovering crashed UFO sections, removing alien infiltrators, recruiting staff, etc. If we went with that, this too would further suggest we should switch back to the X1 base style - your secondary bases might be more than just interceptor bases if you want to use them as a staging post for ground team operations in that area. Anyway, I'll keep you updated with how that all goes.
  3. Chris

    Xenonauts-2: Air Combat

    Hmmm, I don't think this is true at all. You can definitely cover the entire world well enough to easily win the game using three well-placed bases along the equator, and it's definitely the most efficient way to play the game. The Foxtrot also moves significantly faster than the starting Condor aircraft do; if you think the changes are purely visual then you're mistaken. Yeah, missiles have been suggested before. It's an interesting idea, but I've not really thought up anything that makes sense for why missiles would be an interesting choice for the player. If a UFO flies near your missile site, you'll pretty much always want to fire missiles at it, right?
  4. The "correct" shape of a radar near one of the poles on a flat map would be kinda ridiculous though, if you think about it - the circle would run all the way along the bottom of the map. There might be a way to bring more realism into it in X2 though, for instance that is less of a problem if you have the radar coverage be specific the Geoscape region rather than on the bases - because then they're not circles and won't be covering the poles, etc.
  5. This is already in Xenonauts-2 btw, you can see it on the demo. It's a toggle button above the shot mode selection slider.
  6. I like the fact that everyone so far seems to have wildly different preferences for the stretch goals - that suggests to me that at least someone finds everything on the list interesting, so the vote will be an interesting one!
  7. Thanks for the feedback, always useful to read your thoughts
  8. Incidentally I've posted up the current plans I have for the stretch goals here:
  9. It'd definitely be cool if that could happen, but it's a huge amount of work even if there was a straightforward way to design it (e.g. what do you do when the other player is doing a mission you're not involved in)?
  10. Custom interceptor skins is actually a pretty good idea. It's been suggested to me several times but for some reason it's only just clicked now that it's pretty easy to just do a few extra paintjobs that the player can cycle between if they want, and we could do a Kickstarter-exclusive one to give away. Not sure where it would fit in the reward structure, but it might be a nice little plus too.
  11. From the start of the Kickstarter to roughly one week in, anyone who backs the Kickstarter will be able to vote on what they think the order of the stretch goals should be. If we hit the funding target required for a stretch goal, we'll do everything in our power to put that system in the game for testing during Early Access. Some of these features may make it into the game even if we don't hit the required funding level, but the idea is that the community can use this vote to tell us which ones they REALLY want to see in the game so we can prioritize them. (Please note that implementing and testing a system does not necessarily mean that it will be included in the final game - in the unlikely event that the system doesn't work very well or the players don't like it, we might end up taking it out again.) We will hit the first stretch goal when we hit the initial Kickstarter target of £50,000, and each £50,000 above that up to £250,000 will unlock another reward as follows: £50,000 - #1 Voted Stretch Goal £100,000 - #2 Voted Stretch Goal £150,000 - #3 Voted Stretch Goal £200,000 - #4 Voted Stretch Goal £250,000 - #5 Voted Stretch Goal These are the proposed stretch goals: MARS Weapon Platform & Sentry Guns Modular Weapons & Armour Location Injuries & Medical Care Orchestral Soundtrack Recording Improved support for Xenonauts: Community Edition / Modding / Translation Reaper Hives Weather Conditions Geoscape Situations Okay, so here's the detailed information on each of the different stretch goals available! MARS Weapon Platform & Sentry Guns: Xenonauts-2 will not be including multi-tile vehicles like the X1 Hunter Armoured Car because they kinda don't work within the combat rules (detailed explanation why here). Single-tile vehicles would not suffer from the same problems and so we would like to implement a small "MARS" battlefield weapon platform loosely inspired by the real-life MAARS robotic vehicle, and we'd also like to include single-tile Sentry Guns that you can build and deploy on base defence missions. In both cases these vehicles would be equipped with infantry weapons of your choice - by default the LMG, but you can experiment with other weapons and upgrade them as you develop more advanced weapons. The Sentry Guns would be immobile, but the MARS would be able to crush light walls and cover much like the larger vehicles could in X1, allowing it to clear a path for your troops through fences etc. The MARS would also provide mobile cover to your units, and its smaller size would allow it to go inside UFOs. There's also scope for research and engineering projects to upgrade the base stats of these units, perhaps eventually allowing you to build flying MARS variants and so on. Modular Weapons & Armour: We would like to add an extra layer of customization to the weapons and armour in the game by making them "modular" - i.e. giving them sub-slots into which you can place new components. For example, a suit of Jackal armour would have a base set of resistances against various types of damage plus a "plating" slot that you could add various types of plating to: No Plating - if the slot is left empty, the unit gets a TU bonus Ballistic Plating - these are starting equipment that provide extra kinetic resistance Ceramic Plating - these is early-game research that provides energy resistance Alloy Plating - this is mid-game research, providing strong energy and kinetic resistance Both the suit of armour and the plating items are manufactured items built in the workshop. This system allows you to customise your suit of armour based on the specifics of the mission or the particular role of your unit, and would also create more interesting choices with regards to the tech tree. For example, when you research Alien Alloys do you need to build shiny new Wolf Armour for your team or can you make do by manufacturing some Alloy Plating for your existing Jackal Armour? For the weapons the system would be similar - researching new technology would give you ways to "upgrade" older tiers of weapon. Alien Alloys might give you the opportunity to build shiny new MAG Weapons but also allow you to build magnetic barrel accelerators that could boost the damage of your old ballistic weapons. More detailed customization like different scopes for each type of weapon (with advantages / disadvantages) is possible, but those systems would need to be designed that most equipment works fine on its default settings so players don't feel obliged to customise every weapon if they don't want to. Although I like this idea, I think it is much riskier than the other ideas on this list because it is so tightly interwoven with the tech tree. There's always a chance that we'll find a better way to handle some of the issues solved by modular equipment (e.g. "upgrading" older equipment tiers can be done with modular equipment, but there's plenty of other ways we could do it) and that the idea will end up being changed / dropped as a result. Locational Injuries & Medical Care: Getting shot in Xenonauts is fairly binary in terms of outcomes - either your soldier dies, or they fight on at full effectiveness. We are considering expanding the bleeding system to an Injury system that could alter the effectiveness of the soldier in various different ways. The system is relatively simple - every time the soldier loses 10% of their HP, they have a chance of suffering an Injury. Different Injuries have different effects, for example: Permanent: (persistent until healed on the Geoscape) Broken Ribs: start each turn with reduced TU Leg Wound: each tile of movement costs extra TU Left Arm Wound: minor reduced Accuracy Right Arm Wound: major reduced Accuracy Head Wound: reduced Accuracy, reduced vision range Temporary: Concussed: reduced TU and vision range for 3 turns Blinded: 0 Acc and 0 Vision Range for 1 turn Bleeding Wound: soldier loses 5HP per turn until healed The "permanent" injuries last for a certain number of days on the Geoscape and are independent of HP values. You CAN keep deploying your best soldier into battle if he has broken ribs or some injury, but he's not going to be as effective as useful - but you might be fine with that, depending on his injury and the mission type. Because we don't want to make injured units useless, we could add a couple of extra battlefield items to help keep them in the fight. Bandages and Painkillers could be belt items that stop bleeding and temporarily reduce the negative effects of Permanent Injuries respectively. Medikits would be able to do both of these things, and also recover lost HP. Orchestral Soundtrack Recording: The soundtrack to the first Xenonauts is frequently mentioned as a highlight of the game, as it's one of the major sources of tension in the game. For Xenonauts-2 the same composer is returning to create an entirely new original soundtrack for the game (a free digital download for all £25+ tier backers!) and he has been telling me for some time that the biggest thing we can do to improve the quality of the soundtrack is to get the music recorded by a real orchestra rather than using his library of pre-recorded instruments like we did for X1. This isn't exactly cheap, but it's not absurdly expensive either. There are orchestras that specialise in this sort of thing and he's found an affordable one in Macedonia that he considers particularly good. If it's something you guys are keen to see happen, we could feasibly get it done as a stretch goal! Improved Support for Xenonauts-2: Community Edition / Modding / Translation: Xenonauts-2 will run a Community Edition program and have some form of support for modding and translation even if this stretch goal is not achieved, but us setting aside extra time to document the codebase and improve the mod / translation tools means that there will likely be more and higher-quality community content available in the long run. If you think that is important, you should vote for this stretch goal! Why is this necessary? Well, for example, the creation of Xenonauts: Community Edition was actually a pretty big drain on our time. Preparing the codebase for external coders to start working on it, writing documentation for the key stuff they need to know and then answering their questions all takes time. I think the Community Edition project for the first Xenonauts was a huge success and if others are keen to see us devote extra time to making sure the Community Coders have all they need for Xenonauts-2, you should consider voting for this stretch goal. We will also need additional time to create modding tools for mod creators. You can still mod Xenonauts-2 by editing the text files in a text editor, but it's more complex this time because we're using compressed JSON files rather than easily-readable XML files like in Xenonauts 1. The structure is also more complex because objects now have inheritance, which means it's much easier to create new variants of items etc but rather harder to edit them with a text editor because the values are often spread across multiple files. We therefore will want to create a Unity plugin that allows you guys to view and edit the files in the same way that we do ourselves, and that automatically handles the "mod-merging" tech used in Xenonauts 1 that allows multiple mods to change the same file without breaking the game (this had to be done manually in X1 and was hard work). In an ideal world we'd also like to create a game editor that allows people to easily mod the game files without needing Unity - although this is probably best done in collaboration with the Community Coders, as they'll need to maintain it as they continue to change the codebase post-release. We also want to make a translation system for Xenonauts-2, which allows anyone to translate the game into another language just by reading all the English strings and typing the same words in the new language into the line next to it. These translations would then be distributed as a special type of mod. I don't think we can afford to pay for professional translations for Xenonauts-2, but we'd love to make it easy for other people to do it if they want to! Reaper Hives: Although the Reapers from Xenonauts 1 will be making a reappearance in Xenonauts-2, they don't fit as neatly into the new "secret war" setup as the other aliens do (being mindless biological terror weapons). I would like to create a new type of early-game mission that is a variant on the late-game alien base assault missions. This mission would be an assault on an unmanned / abandoned alien outpost infested by dormant Reapers and perhaps a few robotic Androns. The idea is the Reapers become a biological defence system, staying in hibernation until a human stumbles upon the facility and wanders inside ... at which point the Reapers wake up and promptly infest the human, expanding the ranks of the Reapers. This would mean expanding the ranks of the Reapers a bit, maybe adding some larger Reapers with a range attack into the mix, and some kind of cocoon that wakes up if the player accidentally damages it that we can spread throughout the map. We'd probably also have a "hive" somewhere in the base that spawns a new Reaper every turn or two until you destroy it. The idea is that you need to balance your need to push through the base and destroy the hive spawning the Reapers with your need to carefully sweep the base so no Reapers get the jump on you. I think adding Androns and ranged Reapers into the mix would also be interesting, because players will have to kill them whilst being careful not to accidentally hit any dormant cocoons with and spawn additional Reapers while doing so. Although this is ultimately just a variant of the alien base assault missions, I think it would be a rather unique and memorable (read: "terrifying") experience for the player to add a bit more variety to the early game. Dynamic Weather Conditions: In the Kickstarter video you can see a brief clip where we have sand blowing past in a desert map. We'll likely have something similar going on with the snow on a Polar map, and maybe with the dust on an Arid map etc. At the moment this is purely cosmetic and exists just to add a bit more visual interest to the screen. Weather conditions could affect missions by reducing sight ranges for all combatants. We would like to have several different levels of weather effect, for example the sandstorm effect could have the following levels. Even "None" would have some sand flying about, but the sand clouds would get thicker and stronger as the levels increase: None: no effect on unit vision Bad: all units get -25% vision range Terrible: all units get -50% vision range Extreme: all units get -75% vision range Most missions would have "clear" weather conditions, which means there is no chance the weather falls below "None" and so it will not affect gameplay. However, other missions may be marked as having "Changeable" conditions. These missions start clear but there is a chance the weather changes each turn - a 50% chance it stays the same, a 25% chance it gets worse each turn, and a 25% chance it improves. This idea is that these missions are unpredictable, with vision ranges potentially changing every turn. Certain missions might also be marked as having Bad, Terrible or Extreme weather - these are treated like Changeable conditions except the weather starts at the appropriate level of reduced visibility rather than at "None". We will likely have to write special code for this to ensure that it does not apply inside buildings and we'll need to be careful that weather problems don't happen too often, but overall I think this might be a cool way of dynamically adding a bit more gameplay variation to the combat layer! Geoscape Situations: One thing that could add a bit more interest to the strategy layer is the addition of random text events - where the game pops up some text about an event and then allows the player to choose how they want to proceed. The player would have the option to ignore these events with no consequences, or take some risks to try and gain a reward. To keep things interesting, not every text event would occur in each game. For example, when the player researches Laser Weapons there might be a 25% chance that the following event is generated: Overcharged Emitter: A scientist approaches you and tells you that he has an idea for how he can overcharge the emitter and boost the damage on your new Laser Weapons - although he's not completely certain it would work, and the consequences of failure would be that the overcharged emitter explodes. The player has three choices: Attempt Experiment: (60% success) pick a soldier to attempt to test fire the overcharged weapon. If you fail, both the scientist and the soldier have a chance to suffer serious injury / death. If successful, Laser weapons receive +20% damage. Remote Experiment: (30% success) build a remote testing rig that costs 3 Alloys, which are destroyed if the experiment fails. If successful, Laser weapons receive +20% damage. Abandon Experiment: the experiment is abandoned Although this sort of choice can seem somewhat straightforward in many cases, I think if done well they could generate interesting moments for the player - I'm fairly sure that most players would just hand the laser to their most junior soldier and march him straight into the testing chamber. But that doesn't stop it being a cool little story when the guy survives ... and suddenly Pvt. Johnson isn't just a faceless rookie any more, he's the guy who successfully test-fired your awesome new overcharged lasers! Maybe he doesn't have to be the first through the UFO doors next time. I also imagine modders could have a lot of fun with this system
  12. I don't think this makes you the odd person out at all, I think most people hit their limit at $50-$60. I think getting a large number of people to throw in an extra $10-$15 is a bigger gain to the team than getting a handful of people to pay $200 each ... to the point where I was actually tempted to throw in the portrait generator portrait at £35/$50 alongside the soldier name. Maybe I'll still do that?
  13. Thanks for the comments, guys. Yes, I think for the £100 reward it'll have to be something related to the game content. Ideally though it should be something that costs us very little developer time to put in the game, because the £100 tier is only £25 more cash than the previous tier and that really does not cover much dev time. It also should not clutter up the game if, say, 100 people decide they want to buy that tier. For instance, one of the big crowdfunded games (either Divinity or Pillars of Eternity I think?) let you put a dedication in the game that appeared on a tombstone. This is something that costs the developers little time and doesn't overly clutter up the world even if there's hundreds of them. Something like naming a staff character in a research report is better suited to a £500 tier because that's limited to 5, and involves quite a bit more dev time to make it work. I suppose a possibility might be to incorporate some kind of news feed that prints out relevant "news" from the world / within your organisation as alien events happen - kinda similar to the little text you get when a UFO spawns a Geoscape Event in the first Xenonauts. That's something where we could easily slip backer names / characters in for minimal effort and also be able to scale well. Would any of you be interested in that? Or yes, a memorial wall with a section for "past" Xenonauts that died before the game and incorporate the backers into that somehow. I'm very reluctant to add in anything that affects game balance, so having "pre-order" weapons etc isn't something I'm particularly interested in.
  14. Pretty sure that's Steambirds you're referring to there?
  15. Interesting. I would have thought that the dispersion would have been stronger as it traveled through the air ... but then I don't actually know anything about lasers so perhaps that's not surprising. Is it a fairly low-powered laser? Would it disperse more if it was more powerful? Congrats on the job anyway
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