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Chris

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  1. The plans for the main and secondary bases in Xenonauts-2 have been subject to a lot of discussions in the ATLAS Base thread. They have covered so many topics that writing a single post to consolidate and explain the issues is quite a daunting task, but here we go! First of all, there's several different debates being had: Side-on view vs. top-down view Building "slots" vs. X1-style tetris grid Single "full" base vs. multiple "full" bases Let's start by discussing the smaller of the two debates, and leave the single vs. multiple "full" base discussion until afterwards. Side-on view vs. top-down view: The artwork for the bases in X2 has changed perspective so the base is now viewed from the side, rather than being viewed from the top as it was in Xenonauts 1 and in old X-Com. There's only one advantage of doing this, albeit quite a big one - it looks much cooler. I really like the concept art of ATLAS Base because not only do you get to see the sky and ground around the base, it's fundamentally much more interesting to see the contents of a base structure from the side than it is to view it from above. However, there are also some disadvantages: It seems to trigger a lot of people into knee-jerk judgements about us turning the game into XCOM It is worse at supporting tetris-grid base building than a topdown view, as a 2x2 structure implies building downwards through a solid floor (also there's a big missile bisecting the base) Hangars suffer particularly badly, because planes need to get to the surface to get airborne and side-on view emphasises the fact that this would be difficult in the lower levels I'm happy to live with the XCOM comparisons if the base mechanics work well, and it's possible to semi-handwave the Hangars by adding some kind of elevator into the back wall. However the difficulties with the tetris-style base building may cause issues if we decide that's what we want to pursue. Building "Slots" vs. X1 "Tetris" grid: In X1 you have a square 6x6 grid and you can build freely on it, with the only restriction being that you must place new buildings adjacent to buildings that already exist. In X2 we're using a system like in XCOM where your base has 18 pre-defined "slots" and you can click on them to place a building into that slot. The difference between the two only becomes apparent in a few situations. If you're dealing with exclusively 1x1 rooms then slots are actually superior because they allow you to support a cleaner interface. However, you can't build larger rooms using the slot system - unless you do it in a modular fashion, so instead of making a Living Quarters 2x1 slots wide you allow the player to build small 1x1 Living Quarters and then grant an adajcency bonus for putting two next to each other. This falls apart a bit for certain buildings, though - Hangars once again are the best example. You can't split a 2x2 Hangar into four smaller rooms that each hold 1/4 of a plane. So where does this leave us? Taken in conjuction with the above point, if we want to house aircraft in a base then the current side-on view presents problems. The choice then becomes whether we want to not store aircraft at the main base (and have them in seperate Geoscape bases that could use the top-down view), whether we want to move to a top-down view for all the bases, or whether we want to see if we can change the scale on the side-on art so there's more space in general - and less vertical space between levels, making building 2x2 structures something feasible (not sure what we do with the nuclear missile then though). Single "full" base vs. multiple full bases: The player will be allowed to have multiple bases in X2 whatever happens - the debate is just about how much those bases can support. In X1 every base you built was theoretically equally important, as you could build everything in a secondary base that you could build in your first base (although in practice the first base was almost always the most important base). The proposal in X2 is that you have a single side-on main base (ATLAS Base) that acts as the HQ for your organisation and is the only place that can hold your staff, but the only aircraft it can hold is your dropship. You can then build Airbases on Geoscape that act like X1 Bases except you can only build Hangars and Radars there. However we choose to proceed with the bases, I am planning to make your first base your "main" base and have it contain a unique Command Room building. This is where the named characters of the Xenonauts hang out (including you) and it's an immediate game loss if it falls to the aliens. Even if we allow complex secondary bases, this allows us to retain the "Threat" mechanics that trigger attacks on your main base and gives us a way to cut short losing campaigns, and force the player to keep their tactical team strong instead of focusing fully on the strategy layer. There would be costs for moving back to the Xenonauts 1 base system: It obviously takes time to implement the added complexity of allowing multiple instances of each base screen (structures, stores, personnel etc) and then support transferring the contents of those between different bases We have to clutter up the UI with extra elements to support switching between bases and moving things between them - which makes the user experience more clunky and frustrating We'd lose the visually attractive side-on art and have to replace it with the top-down X1 style art You lose the hard limit on the building space the player has available, which means it's much harder to balance buildings based on size rather than cost The logic behind "Readiness" starts to fall down if you can have more than one dropship That doesn't mean that moving back to the Xenonauts 1 system is impossible, it just means that we need a good reason to do so - not only is it a lot of work to implement, if players don't use the new functionality then the gameplay experience would have actually been made worse as a result. So what would be the point of having secondary bases? Secondary Bases - what's the point? It's important to draw a distinction here between Xenonauts and old X-Com, because in Xenonauts we are actively trying to limit the number of ground missions the player can play in a single campaign. In order to keep the air war interesting, we throw far more UFOs at the player than X-Com does - which means a lot more crash sites. We can't possibly expect (or allow) the player to do all those missions, so we've introduced the Readiness mechanic to force the player to choose which missions they consider important. Not allowing the player to do every crash site removes one of the biggest reasons for building up a secondary team on the Geoscape, which means the only real role for secondary bases in the current X2 design is to expand radar coverage and to house interceptors - everything else can be done more efficiently in your main base! However, it's become clear over the past few weeks that a sizeable number of our players like building secondary bases even if it doesn't necessarily make sense in gameplay terms. It makes the game feel bigger and more sandboxy if you have the option to do all that stuff, and lets you roleplay a little. With that in mind, it's worth considering what mechanics might make secondary bases more interesting relative to X1. Here's a few thoughts: Expanding some of the building sizes would make it more challenging to build everything you want in a single base; Hangars being the obvious example. They're 2x1 in Xenonauts but 2x2 in X-Com. Adjacency bonuses would encourage you to build specialised bases where you can connect particular buildings to others of the same type (if you cannot easily recruit unlimited numbers of scientist and engineers, adjacent buildings could make the staff working there more effective rather than just unlocking additional space within them) Perhaps your Power system becomes less efficient the more Power you are generating? It is more efficient to spread your power-intensive buildings across more than one base, but they're easier to defend if you keep them in one place. If there's more stuff at the base to protect than just planes and radars, the player is encouraged to put a garrison there - which in turn means Living Quarters, Training Rooms and a Storeroom A few people have raised the possibility of having some base upgrades tied to ground combat missions; I was thinking it might be interesting if the only way you could generate additional Power in your base is to steal a nuclear reactor from one of your funding regions (likely via a ground combat mission). This would then allow you to build a reactor structure in one of your bases to generate additional power, so you get a nice link between doing a combat mission and getting to expand your base. This would naturally constrain the growth of your bases and could allow different qualities of building - for instance, an advanced lab that makes the scientists working there more effective. This would be kinda cool with regards to the radars, as you could set it up so that you can't stack radars to increase the radar range of a base but instead have to build increasingly power hungry radar facilities. So rushing radar coverage becomes harder because you either have to give up other power-hungry buildings instead, or you have to run a load of nuclear reactor missions in the early game. I'm kinda just throwing ideas out a bit now, so take all that stuff about reactors with a pinch of salt - but it would be nice to do something that made the base mangement more interesting. In X1 the layout of your main base hardly mattered, and once you'd built some more Radars and another Lab and Workshop in the first month there wasn't much else to do for the rest of the game...
  2. Nah, there’s a limit of three consecutive rooms for room merging / adjacency bonuses for that exact reason (mentioned in the earlier post). To be honest the mechanics and balance will no doubt be tweaked a bit anyway, I guess it’s more about the overall perception of how sandboxy the base feels now. Also regarding the interceptors you’ve got a little confused, probably because the terminology is mixed. You can still deploy s group of three aircraft into battle in X2, the real question is whether each of those planes should be an individual plane or a squadron of 5 identical planes. The “squadron” system handles damage better but there might be logic issues if you’re using 15 planes to shoot down a UFO then attack it with 8 dudes on the ground. Same with the weapon manufacturing stuff.
  3. This thread is intended to act as master index for all the forum threads related to the design changes and new features that will be included in Xenonauts-2 ("X2"). Basics & Setting: Xenonauts-2 is a large and complex strategy game loosely inspired by the classic X-Com games from the 90s, although it is not a direct remake in the same way as its predecessor Xenonauts ("X1") was. This gives us some additional freedom to add or alter game mechanics in order to make the experience deeper and more strategic. Xenonauts-2 is not a direct sequel to the first Xenonauts but rather an updated and improved portrayal of the same events. The time period of the game is no longer the 1970s but instead 2015, however the action now takes place in an alternate history where the Soviet Union never collapsed and the Cold War never ended - you can thank extraterrestrial interference in human politics for all of this! The game starts immediately after the Xenonauts lose their headquarters CENTRAL Base to an unexpected extraterrestrial ground attack. A small number of survivors flee in a helicopter to ATLAS Base, a derelict missile silo in remote Iceland that has a small backup command center and a stash of emergency supplies for exactly this scenario. It is clear that the alien invasion is increasing in intensity and (with the previous Commander having been killed) you are now responsible for rebuilding the organisation and keeping a lid on the political situation until the Xenonauts can figure out a way to defeat the aliens for good. To better employ the paranoia of the Cold War setting, the Xenonauts and the aliens are fighting a "shadow war" rather than open warfare - few people believe that aliens exist, let alone are walking among us ... and the aliens are actively trying keep it that way by deliberately covering up any evidence of their own existence. The few people that have encountered them and survived are dismissed as crazy conspiracy theorists if they try to speak out about it, then tend mysteriously disappear. Little is known of the aliens beyond this: They have been interfering with human politics for decades, always in an attempt to raise global tensions towards nuclear war They deploy personnel and UFOs directly to Earth via translocator technology (i.e. they don't fly here across interstellar space), and disappear after a day or two Very limited numbers of aliens appear - e.g. historically only a handful of infiltrators / a single small UFO would generally appear in any given month They have psionic powers, but only subtle ones - the power to influence people / limited telepathy / etc, rather than direct mind control A few familiar faces are returning in the alien and Xenonaut ranks, but remember that none of the stuff from the lore of the first Xenonauts is considered canon for the sequel! Key Changes & Improvements: Geoscape DEFCON System Threat Meter Region Relations & Infiltration Agents & Field Operations Readiness Operation Endgame Turn-Based Geoscape Air Combat: Geoscape Airbases & Interceptor Squadrons Interception Attack Run Further Development ATLAS Base Base Structures & Personnel Slots Power Capacity Stores Capacity & Upkeep Training & Base Comfort Base Defence Missions Research Tree Development Projects Alenium Cells Weapon Tiers Multiple Ammo Types Soldiers Soldier Attributes Combat Experience vs. Skills Equipment Stat Modifiers Soldier Inventory Stress / Fatigue Vehicles Removal of multi-tile vehicles MARS Weapon Platform (stretch goal) Sentry Guns (stretch goal) Ground Combat Planned Mission Types Planned Environments Map & Mission Variety Alien Racial Abilities Breachable UFOs Modding Xenonauts-2: Community Edition Modding Methods Translation Editor
  4. So in this concept this would be the main base and wouldn't handle radars or interceptors. It just holds the Xenonaut dropship that delivers your troops around the world. Your interceptors are housed on Geoscape airbases that contain only radars and jets (whether this is a good idea or not is the other major discussion going on in this thread). You get one of these at the start of the game which you get to place anywhere, containing one Condor. The squadron change is something that might be reversed because I'm leaning towards having plane weapons individually manufactured this time, rather than the auto upgrade system we had in the first game. You start to run into logic problems if your engineers are building enough weapons to arm a whole squadron of aircraft in the same time it takes to build a laser rifle. We'll just have damage last longer on the planes instead.
  5. After thirty days of the Xenonauts-2 Kickstarter campaign, things have come to an end - and we've raised £191,107 (approx. $250,000) from our £50,000 target! We've raised 60% more than we did for Xenonauts 1 back in 2012, and importantly we did so without committing to any physical rewards... so in reality we've probably doubled the effective useful revenue compared to last time. I feel like that's a pretty impressive result for us - before the Kickstarter began we genuinely weren't even sure if we'd be able to hit our £50,000 goal, and even assuming that things went well I wasn't expecting us to go above £150,000! It's been really great to see the total go so high, and it's also been a major boost to read the many nice messages from people who enjoyed the first game and wanted to express their enthusiasm for the next one. I've written this post because I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone on the forum for helping us achieve that goal. Many of you have helped directly by pledging to the Kickstarter, but collectively you've also provided a lot of useful feedback and support as we moved towards the Kickstarter. All that really does mean a lot to us, and the fact the Kickstarter has done so well means that we can now take more time to read your thoughts and suggestions and polish up Xenonauts-2 into something properly special. So thanks for all your help - it's been a hell of a ride!
  6. Thanks for the thoughts. I think there's a few areas that need a bit of explanation, though. Firstly, for Paypal - as Max has linked above we're effectively banned from Paypal, otherwise we would indeed have added some kind of Paypal support. You are correct that setting up a store on our website may be a good idea and that's something I do plan to look into, although I don't feel it's inherently likely to generate any PR and it'll only be a stopgap measure for six months until we're available for sale on Steam / GOG in terms of pre-orders. However this does have the advantage that we would be able to continue to sell the "custom soldier" tier where you could pay $20 and put a soldier in the game with a face from the Portrait Editor - I think that's a reward that people who discover the game later in development (e.g. on Steam) may want to pick up. It's even something we could continue to do after release if we upload the new soldiers once a month or something. I think you probably just missed the press coverage that there was: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2018/06/20/xenonauts-2-kickstarter-playable-demo/ https://www.pcgamer.com/xenonauts-2-launches-crowdfunding-campaign/ Sure, it's only two articles but they're the only two big sites willing to write about our Kickstarter and they drove about 20% of our non-Kickstarter pledges. There was also a newsletter from GOG that was apparently sent out to the 550,000 people who own the game (which was why we did the free giveaway on GOG about two weeks beforehand). So I don't think it's fair to say we started doing it too late or didn't do enough, I think you're just seeing that it's a tough market out there and a developer doing a Kickstarter isn't really a news item unless the circumstances are in some way exceptional. Finally, you're correct that the videos were better for many other major high profile Kickstarters. But I think you're overestimating the size and PR capacity of our studio; there's only five full-time staff here at Goldhawk and two of those live well outside London and work remotely. The studios you're comparing us to there - Larian and Obsidian - are studios of 30+ employees with much bigger budgets than we have. Same for companies like Harebrained who did Shadowrun and Battletech etc, they're another big studio who do really successful Kickstarters but throw a lot more resources at them than we do. Those guys have full-time PR people and I'd be very surprised if they didn't have artists who work with video professionally on their staff full-time. That's not something we have access to; we don't even have a good location to shoot more video - for the video I had to borrow the meeting room in the office of a friend who works in a flashy tech startup down the road from us. So, yeah - you are right that our video wasn't as professional as some of the others you saw, but those guys are setting a very high bar. Broadly, I'm pleased with the way Kickstarter went. The amount of money a game raises on Kickstarter is generally only a small fraction of the sales that you get on Steam / GOG after release, and it's possible to chase the Kickstarter numbers too much if you're not careful. I was aiming to run a fairly conservative Kickstarter that was as efficient as possible - one that generated as much usable revenue for the game whilst sucking up as little of mine / the company's bandwidth as possible (because the key thing is to make the game). I think we did a pretty good job there; all the rewards are digital and most of them won't cause us that much trouble to fulfil ... which is a very different story to the physical rewards in Xenonauts 1. I think if I was going to do it again I'd probably try and get a website set up on our site that did support Paypal, as there's third-party solutions that would let us do that. I'm not sure it's something that would have made a big difference but it's something we're looking at doing now anyway so in retrospect I probably should have done it in advance.
  7. You can read the basic description of the new soldier inventory system in this thread: https://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/index.php?/topic/19462-xenonauts-2-soldiers/ I think this is a topic that needs to be discussed in more detail. The purpose of this thread is to explain the reasons why we have made these changes, so players who are concerned about the changes can make suggestions for how the new inventory system could be changed or improved to bring back missing functionality from Xenonauts 1. Honestly, I'm happy to update the inventory design if we can bring back some of the freedom from the X1 system into the current system - but I'd also be happy to bring back the X1 system if people were able to suggest appropriate improvements to that. Ultimately, we all want to produce the best possible game here! So let's start by talking about the inventory system from Xenonauts 1, and what was good and bad about it: GOOD - it gives you the freedom to load your soldiers with all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations of equipment. This opens up various tactical possibilities that don't exist in more streamlined games like XCOM (soldiers carrying gear for other soldiers, etc.) NEUTRAL - soldiers could carry more than one "primary" weapon into combat, allowing a sniper to instantly become a close-combat specialist just by switching to a shotgun. This is listed as neutral because I'm actually OK with this ability provided it is balanced better than it was in X1 (more on this below). BAD - we balanced the number of items a soldier could carry using weight (KG) vs. the soldier strength, which led to a lot of "realistic weight" issues and some fiddly micromanaging of the soldier equipment every time their Strength went up. BAD - any item can go anywhere, so you need a huge Armory panel on the Soldier Equip screen that shows every possible item you might want. The new system has contextual filtering, so clicking on a Belt slot shows only ammo and grenades etc. This makes it much easier to find the items you need. TERRIBLE - you couldn't see the secondary items a soldier was equipped with in a combat mission unless you had the inventory panel open, so on the battlefield it was hard to easily find the soldier with the medikit / stun baton / etc when you needed them. TERRIBLE - using a secondary item was a fiddly process that involved opening the inventory, dragging the item into your primary, checking the TU cost of doing so, then closing the inventory and using it. After you've used it, you have to go through the entire process again to re-equip your primary weapon. The proposed X2 system deals with the negative parts of the X1 system, but I do understand that it also takes away the one big advantage of the Xenonauts 1 system - the freedom to equip your soldier the way you choose. I understand people don't want to lose that freedom, so I'd be very happy if we can find a hybrid system that deals with the usability and balance issues of the X1 system but retains some of all of that extra freedom. Here's some specific talking points that I want to highlight in this discussion. Secondary Slot: I think even the biggest supporter of the old X1 inventory system would agree that it's clunky to use. To address that in Xenonauts-2 we've added the Secondary slot, which will be displayed in the ground combat UI (placeholder concept seen below). This secondary slot isn't necessarily tied to the rest of the changes in the X2 inventory system; it could be integrated into the Xenonauts 1 inventory system too. It's basically a "holster" slot that is too small to fit a full-size weapon in it. If a backpack exists you could drag stuff from the backpack into this slot in the same way as you can for the Primary slot. The purpose of this secondary slot is to remove the time wasted cyling through soldiers to find the one that has the specific secondary item you're looking for, and also to make it much quicker to access that item when you do find it. I think we'll probably allow the soldier to use the item in their secondary slot without a TU penalty because that's the easiest and cleanest way to do it. To me, this is a straightforward upgrade over what we had in Xenonauts 1. It doesn't remove any complexity, it just makes secondary items much easier to view and use. Does anyone feel differently? Squad View: The "Soldier Equip" screen now has two levels. It has a top-level screen that allows you re-arrange soldiers in the dropship and swap out soldiers into a slot (new soldiers inherit the loadout of the soldier they replaced), and a lower-level screen that allows you to customise the equipment of an individual soldier. The UI is placeholder but you can see it below: Again, I don't expect this change to be particularly divisive. The screen gives you an easy way to see the loadout of your team and rearrange them in the dropship before you send them off to battle. There's obviously limits here to what we can show; there's no belt slots (or backpack) and we'd probably be limited to 12 soldiers unless we shrunk the bars down. Armory vs. Contextual Slots: The planned mechanics for Xenonauts replaces the (Tetris-style) inventory tiles from Xenonauts 1 with a series of slots - the Armour slot, Primary slot, Secondary slot and the 6 Belt slots. Three things to discuss here - limiting items to certain slots, the contextual selection UI, and the lack of the backpack. You can see in the above gif that items are limited to certain slots. For example, the majority of the weapons from X1 can only go in the Primary slot. Sidearms, melee weapons and items like medikits can only go in the Secondary slot. Note that this change does not have to be tied to the lack of a backpack; for instance we could add a backpack that could contain either a single Primary item or two Secondary items. Instead, the main advantage of this system is that you don't have to have the huge Armory panel on the Soldier Equip screen that contains every piece of battlefield equipment in your base stores. You just click on a slot and a contextual menu pops up that contains all the valid items. This much easier to use and is visually more attractive. The final thing to talk about is the backpack. This has been removed in the current design for X2 for the following reasons: It's not ideal if the player is able to equip soldiers with multiple primary weapons, as battles are much less tactical if all the soldiers can do everything. If your sniper can pick enemies off at long range, but instantly switch to a shotgun and destroy enemies at short range too ... what's his weakness? Limiting the player to a single Primary weapon and single Secondary item means we can give those items certain properties that don't work if the player can carry several of them. For example: The SMG is a Primary weapon that does less damage than a Rifle but gives the user a TU bonus. This isn't really viable if the soldier can carry a Rifle in his backpack and run around with the SMG then switch to the Rifle as soon as he encounters an enemy. Secondary items with passive effects (e.g. a psionic mind shield or a motion detector) are a bit overpowered if you can leave them equipped most of the time, but then temporarily switch to an "active" secondary like a Medikit when you need to heal someone. It effectively gives you the benefit of both. Certain items don't really make sense unless there are limits on other slots; for instance a pistol sidearm for the secondary slot is kinda pointless if the soldier can just carry a second primary weapon instead. The tetris-style backpack won't work the contextual slot UI seen in the gif above, so we'd need to move back to the clunky Armory UI. Which is going to get even more cluttered when we add extra items and the modular weapon / armour customisation options. Having said that, removing the backpack isn't the only way we can fix many of these problems. We could give soldiers a backpack and allow them to carry multiple weapons, but give the soldier a TU penalty appropriate to the weight of the weapon (which means sidearms would still have a use). The passive secondary items could instead be integrated into particular suits of armour, and the extra active secondary items could be carried in this backpack the same way that extra primary weapons are. As I don't particularly want to lose the contextual UI, you could potentially structure a backpack like a list instead of it being 6x6 tile grid or whatever. Adding an item to this list could give the soldier a certain TU penalty: e.g. a Primary item -10 TU, a Secondary item -5 TU, and a Belt item 2 -TU. This would give you access to extra equipment if you want it, but make the soldier less mobile if you do weigh them down with extra gear). Strength System: I also don't like the Strength system for governing how much a unit can carry. I think it's another very fiddly system, for these reasons: Equipping pre-set loadouts for soldiers is kinda annoying because you have to individually tweak each one every time depending on the soldier's strength Experienced soldiers can carry loads of gear relative to newbies. They aquire this skill by adding slightly more to their loadout each battle, training a stat that is only really used to control how much weight you can carry. It all just seems a bit weird and circular to me. You run into "realistic weight" problems for items, where their real-world weight and size isn't always proportional to their in-game usefulness - e.g. if we decided grenades were overpowered, we couldn't increase their weight much because everyone knows roughly how much a grenade weighs. This doesn't necessarily mean that the Strength system has to be removed entirely (although in the current design it is), but I think in its current form it's a pretty complicated system that needs to be improved somehow. Conclusion: There's plenty to discuss, but hopefully now people know what my concerns are with the inventory system and what I'm trying to achieve with the new mechanics they will be able to make suggestions to improve my idea. I think it's important that people try to communicate what it is they enjoyed about the Xenonauts 1 inventory system because it may be possible to recreate the good parts without having to revert back to the Xenonauts 1 system entirely. So, what do people think? Any thoughts or suggestions?
  8. Yeah, as I've mentioned previously this is the biggest thing I want to fix about the inventory system - every soldier has a different STR and therefore a different weight limit, so equipping / changing a loadout is unnecessarily time consuming and fiddly. And soldiers are slowly gaining strength by carrying gear ... which only really grants them the ability to carry still more gear, but still requires a loadout tweak after every mission. I'm actually quite tempted just to use the X1 system but with a standardized carry weight per soldier. The system I proposed earlier in the thread with the backpack giving TU deductions is great and all, but then means a soldier carrying a LMG and wearing Wolf armour has the same TU as a soldier with a pistol and basic armour. Tweaking the X1 system and adding the secondary slot is probably enough to make the system significantly more usable without removing the complexity people like. Yeah, my thinking on this has evolved over the course of the discussion. The weight system already has the ability to negate overly versatile soldiers, so that whole point really boils down to "if you limit the soldier to 1 weapon, you can put stat bonuses / penalties on the weapons" ... and you can do that anyway if you make changing weapons sufficiently expensive in terms of TU. So yeah, I don't actually think I am opposed to soldiers carrying multiple weapons into battle after all. As with the point above this discussions has been helpful to allow me to focus and adjust my proposed changes to improve the usability without taking too much away from the players.
  9. Xenonauts: Community Edition (X:CE) is an unofficial community-made update for Xenonauts, produced by volunteer programmers who have been given access to the source code of the game by the developers of the original game. The intention is: To enhance and improve the original Xenonauts gameplay experience without fundamentally altering the gameplay, whilst also allowing improved mod integration and offering a larger range of optional game customisation options to those that wish to use them. X:CE is therefore meant to be an improved version of the original game, including additional bugfixes and various new features that do not fundamentally alter the intended game experience (rather, they just make it play better). It is also intended to include a number of optional improvements and a more advanced mod loader than the original game. This will make it easier for people to change the game if they want a non-vanilla experience. A more detailed summary of X:CE and answers to some common questions are in the post below. Please bear in mind that X:CE is not an official Goldhawk product. It is community owned and community driven, which means Goldhawk cannot be held responsible for the content of the updated game or any bugs it may introduce, nor provide any customer support for it. That too will have to be handled by the volunteers who produced X:CE in the first place. How do I get it? If you are on Steam and on Windows, all you need to do is to change to the Community branch: Right click on Xenonauts >>> Properties >>> Betas >>> Community You can revert to the standard official branch at any time by selecting the "NONE" option from the same list. If you are not on Steam / Windows you will need to install it manually. Download the desired version from the X:CE Release Announcements subforum and follow the install instructions in that thread.
  10. So this is a basic art-bash concept (i.e. totally not final) of how the visuals of a side-on grid base might look later on in the game where the base is pretty heavily built up. A few mechanics ideas - which are not necessarily reflected in the concept: The base has four vertical levels, each of which has 11 grid tiles in it. You can only build new buildings horizontally adjacent to your existing buildings (in-construction buildings will also count this time around, although you can't then demolish the "link" building). To access a lower vertical level, you must build an Access Lift which is a vertical 2x1 building. Most types of buildings are 1x1 but get adjacency bonuses, which are represented by adjacent rooms of the same type merging together to form a single larger room. The maximum size of a room is 3 tiles wide, beyond which a new room is started. Certain grid tiles will be filled with rocks instead of normal earth, and it costs extra if you build in these tiles. To be honest this is really quite similar to our existing system behind the scenes, but for some reason when I think about the system and look at the concept it feels much more interesting than what we currently have and seems a bit more distinct from XCOM. It doesn't address all the problems with the base system ... but it seems like a straightforward upgrade on our original plans that can hopefully bring the two sides of the debate a bit closer together while we figure out how complex secondary bases should be. Having 11 tiles in a row means you can't just run access lifts right down the middle of the base without blocking off the ability to have two full-expanded rooms on one side of the base, which should lead to the base layout being a bit more interesting. The positioning of the rocks will also hopefully encourage the player to build around them rather than through them in some situations.
  11. Yeah, this potentially becomes a game balance issue then (which is why they just affected Bravery, which kinda made sense to me) - if you shoot 5 aliens dead and get a medal that makes your soldier more accurate, I'm not sure if that's a good idea. Although admittedly XCOM did it and it was kinda cool (although you had to choose which soldiers you gave the medals to and not everyone could have one).
  12. I know time is ticking down for the Kickstarter to end, but you only sent me the first message at quarter to midnight last night (according to my email notifications) and I only go into work about an hour ago - I can't see anywhere that you contacted us two weeks ago. In any case, yes, we can add an option to the menu to allow the player to disable the screen shake before the beta. Thanks for backing.
  13. For Xenonauts-2 we are retaining all the core elements of the ground combat in Xenonauts 1, but making the experience more freeform and less repetitive. The classic "Time Unit" system is not seeing any fundamental changes but more varied missions and environments, improved destructibility and more exotic equipment should keep it feeling fresher for longer. These are the topics that are discussed in this thread: Planned Mission Types Planned Environments Map & Mission Variety Alien Racial Abilities Breachable UFOs Planned Mission Types: All of the mission types from the original Xenonauts are returning and two new ones are being added, giving the following list: UFO Crash Site Abduction Mission Terror Site Alien Base Attack Xenonaut Base Defence DEFCON / VIP Elimination The UFO Crash Site and Abudction missions are both resource gathering missions. Crash Sites involve attacking a downed UFO to capture new technology and recover Alien Alloys, and these generally take place in wilderness environments with lots of cliffs / trees and maybe one or two small buildings. Abduction sites allow you to gather Alenium and are set in a rural area with a lot more buildings around - e.g. a polar research outpost, a farm, a logging camp, etc. We may put a timer on the Alenium in these missions, tempting the player to play aggressively in order to secure all the Alenium ... even though carefully and cautiously will still allow you to recover a decent amount of it. Alien Base Attack and Xenonaut Base Defence missions operate much like in the first Xenonauts in terms of objectives. Both are set underground and the former involves clearing an alien facility of the resident aliens, whilst the latter involves defending your own base against attacking aliens (with the ability to set up your troops and defences anywhere on the map before the battle starts). Terror sites also work much as they did in the first Xenonauts, being an attack on either a Western or Soviet town full of civilians that need to be saved. The DEFCON missions are a new addition where you attack either a Soviet or Western military base in order to capture or kill a VIP who is pushing the world towards war. Doing so lowers global tensions, but killing the VIP or his guards causes relations damage with the local region (stunning them is fine). I suspect this will be an interesting change of pace for many people and I'm keen to see what tactics people come up with to achieve their objectives whilst causing minimal relations damage to the local region! Planned Environments: We have planned a total of 10 environments in the game. The first six of these will be used for the Crash Site and Abduction missions and should give us a good variety of maps to suit a crash site in any region. They are: Polar - Research Outpost Boreal - Logging Camp Temperate - Farm Tropical - Dockyard Arid - Village Desert - Junkyard All of these biomes share a core set of props that have been reskinned or replaced according to the biome (e.g. cliffs, rocks, trees, etc) but a successful Kickstarter and Early Access period will allow us to add unique features to each of them that make them behave differently from one another. There are also two unique tilesets that are used for the Alien Base Attack and Xenonaut Base Defence missions. These missions are fought in cramped underground tunnels and rooms so pose a very different tactical experience to the other types of environment! Alien Base Xenonaut Base The final two biomes are used for the Terror Sites and the DEFCON missions, representing either a Western or Soviet town or urban military base. Western Town Soviet Town The mapping of our biomes to the tilesets used in Xenonauts 1 is not an exact science, but the environments will be more varied overall - we've added a couple of extra biomes and we can use each one as multiple things (e.g. the Temperate biome can be used to make a farm for the Abduction missions, but it also works as a forest for a UFO Crash Site). Having much better support for verticality and waist-high raised areas of terrain also makes things look and feel more interesting than before. Map & Mission Variety: One of the biggest complaints with the first Xenonauts was that the missions and maps repeated far too frequently - and this was entirely warranted (even though Xenonauts had over 100 maps in it). This problem has several facets, and we think we can improve on all of them. The first way to do this is just to add more mission variety. The average campaign of Xenonauts probably involved 80-90% UFO Crash Site missions, the only variation being the size of the UFO. Ironically, a player that was doing well could actually shoot down all the UFOs before they could spawn anything else ... so ALL they got was Crash Sites. It's not difficult to see why this made the game a bit repetitive! In Xenonauts-2 we think the average campaign should have roughly 25 missions, roughly split out as follows: 1 final mission, 3 terror attacks, 2 alien base attacks, 2 base defence missions, 2 DEFCON missions and the remaining 15 missions split between UFO Crash Site and Abduction missions as the player sees fit. This is all subject to playtesting and we might find it is possible to add some additional types of mission that can further reduce the number of Crash Sites and Adduction missions ... but an average of just under 30% of your missions being Crash Sites would still be heck of lot better than it was in the first game! The second aspect of the solution is to stop the maps repeating so often. This tended to happen in Xenonauts 1 because the earliest UFOs shared the same pool of "small UFO" maps, of which there were only three per biome. That would have been fine if the player shot down UFOs across a variety of different biomes, but naturally this was limited to where your first base was placed - e.g. if you put your first base in Africa, there was basically no way you could shoot down a UFO in a region that would give you a Polar map ... but you'd get plenty of Desert and Middle East maps! The net result was that your first two or three missions picked from a pool of perhaps nine different maps, with no code in place to prevent the same map being played repeatedly. There's some easy solutions here: There's naturally going to be extra map variation as a result of the extra mission variation; your first two missions won't always be UFO Crash Sites so you'll have a bigger pool of maps to pick from! We'll weight the number of maps in the game so the early-game missions have more maps than the late-game ones (you generally only see the end of the game once, but you often see the beginning multiple times) We'll set up some code to ensure the game will always pick maps that it has not used before (wherever possible) Given the more abstracted interception mechanics in X2, we can deliberately spawn UFOs over specific biomes to ensure the player sees a good variety of environments (in X1 we just had to hope the UFO was flying over something interesting when it got shot down) Full map randomisation is likely to be difficult simply because fully random maps tend to look pretty bad, but our map editor does support the same level of randomisation as XCOM2 and we just need to experiment to see how effective it is for making maps that aren't set in futuristic scifi cities where the architecture is deliberately designed around supporting randomisation (my bet is "not very effective", as we already tried a similar system in X1). In any case, we should be able to get far better value out of our maps in X2 than we could in X1 ... and if it turns out that there's still not enough map variation, we'll just make some more maps! We're planning to introduce Skitso to the map editor later in development, which should also help Alien Racial Abilities: The aliens in Xenonauts-2 are also going to be revisited so they have more interesting visual designs and combat abilities, as they did lack a certain amount of character in the first game. The gameplay in X2 is not yet advanced enough that the composition of the alien forces can be evaluated in the context of a campaign, so we've still got some experimentation to do - but our current thinking is we'll be creating several different variants of the same alien with different equipment, so fighting a mission against Sebillians might see you encountering a mix of fast melee berserkers, tough short-range shotgunners and artillery lizards with long-range grenade launchers that create poisonous smoke clouds. This is all still conceptual and my ideas may well change as development continues and we start testing stuff out, but the idea is that you get a bit more tactical variety when you face an alien race than you did in X1 as every race would have (different) short, medium and long range capabilities. The racial abilities of the different aliens have not yet been implemented, but this is what I'm currently thinking: Reapers - their attack is no longer always an insta-kill, and the zombification only occurs if the melee attack damage does enough to kill the target Sebillians - they regenerate to full HP at the start of their turn if not killed, although their max HP is slowly reduced as they take damage (possibly they will be unable to regenerate damage from Laser weapons). Androns - robotic, plus explode like Cyberdiscs when destroyed unless you kill them with EMP damage (in which case you can recover some Alenium from them) Wraiths - a few possibilities for these guys: "Fade" when they take damage, reducing your chance to hit against them for the rest of the turn "Defensive Teleport" that teleports them to a new location after taking damage Heals off electrical / EMP damage Psyons - I'm still not sure about these guys, but there'll probably be some interplay between the small weak Psyons and the larger Officers! The other mechanic I like but haven't thought up an alien to put it on yet is the "swarm" mechanic, where an alien with 50 HP is actually made up of 5 aliens with 10 HP each. This makes them naturally weak against burst weapons and explosives, but very strong against high-damage single shot weapons like sniper rifles that end up "wasting" a lot of damage with each shot. Just need to figure out something to put it on! This area is likely going to be in flux right until the end of development, as the abilities, stats and equipment of the various different aliens plays a huge part of game balance and we'll be iterating and changing it based on our testing and feedback from the community at every step of the journey! Breachable UFOs: The last thing to mention is that the UFOs in the game will no longer be invulnerable - you will be able to breach the hull in specific places (although it may only be the C4 Breaching Charge that allows you to punch a hole in a UFO hull). You may also find some of these breaching spots have already been cracked open during the crash if you're attacking a crashed UFO rather than a landed one. Mechanically this is pretty straightforward stuff, but I think the ability to make new entrances in the UFO hull is definitely going to be a good addition to the game!
  14. 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
  15. Your soldiers are the unsung heroes of Xenonauts, bravely marching off to face death in service of humanity every time you launch a ground mission. So how have they changed compared to their predecessors in the first game? I've mostly been interested in two things: making the skill and promotion system more appropriate to the sort of game we're building, and finding ways to make the player rotate their team so they don't use the same soldiers in literally every mission. The topics discussed in this thread are: Soldier Attributes Combat Experience vs. Skills Equipment Stat Modifiers Soldier Inventory Stress / Fatigue Soldier Attributes: Soldiers interact with the battlefield through a similar set of attributes to what they had in the first game: Time Units Health Points Accuracy Reflexes Bravery The changes we've made are around how those attributes are calculated; e.g. a soldier will not necessarily have the same Accuracy with different types of weapon, as the familiarity of the soldier with the equipped type of weapon will now be factored into their Accuracy stat. Similarly, equipping heavy armour may boost Health Points but reduce Time Units (as well as providing a % damage reduction). Attributes are therefore now calculated based on a mix of the soldier's base competency, their skills, their combat experience and on the equipment they have equipped. We're trying to reduce the number of attributes (e.g. Strength has been removed) but make those that remain deeper more interesting; more details on that as I explain each system in turn. Combat Experience vs. Skills: In reality a soldier's effectiveness is derived from both their skills / training and their veterancy / combat experience. A green recruit trained for a specific role may be more useful than veteran fighter who has not ... but obviously the most effective soldiers are both experienced and well trained! Xenonauts-2 therefore splits out a soldier's stats into a general measure of their combat experience (measured by rank) and a set of skills that denote the ability of the soldier to perform various battlefield actions (predominantly familiarity with different types of weapons). Combat experience / rank provides a global bonus to the soldier's stats - e.g. a Colonel has a higher base Accuracy, HP and TU than a Private does. Combat experience is primarily gained by taking part in ground combat missions, but Field Agents also gain experience on certain types of (dangerous) missions - but in any case, soldiers only gain rank in situations where their life is at risk. Soldier skills are primarily gained through training, although they are also developed on the battlefield - using a rifle in battle will grant you progress towards the Rifle Familiarity skill. Soldiers will passively learn a specific skill (chosen by you) as long as you have enough training space at your base, so it is possible to train rookies to be competent at a specific role without them ever leaving the base ... but they won't reach their full potential until they start gaining veterancy in battle. To give you an example of how rank and skills can combine (all numbers are subject to change): Privates have 50 Accuracy Colonels get +20 Accuracy from accumulated combat experience Rifle Familiarity has three levels and grants the following bonuses: Level 1, +10 Accuracy with Rifles Level 2, +15 Accuracy with Rifles Level 3, +20 Accuracy with Rifles A Private would be treated as having 50 Accuracy with a Rifle if he has no training. That does not mean that all his shots have a 50% hit chance; this number is also modified by intervening cover and the fire mode of the Rifle itself (e.g. your accuracy will be lower if you fire a snap shot, but if you spend more TU on aiming then it will be higher). If that Private has trained his Rifle Familiarity up to level 3, he will have 70 Accuracy with a Rifle equipped but 50 Accuracy with every other type of weapon. The Colonel would also have 70 Accuracy with the Rifle but would also have it with any other type of weapon. If that Colonel also happens to have level 3 Rifle Familiarity, he will have 90 Accuracy. This system allows you to quickly train up competent replacement soldiers into a particular role if a key soldiers gets killed - but veteran soldiers rightly still remain a valuable commodity! There's also plenty of room for further expanding this system - e.g. weapon familiarity could be further broken down into "Ballistics Familiarity" vs. "Energy Weapon Familiarity" and so forth, representing how different types of technology would operate rather differently from one another. Figuring out how deep we want to go is something we'll be experimenting with in the beta / Early Access period! Equipment Stat Modifiers: Because soldiers now tend to make progress towards earning specific skills and their general veterancy level rather than by permanently increasing a specific attribute, we have moved some attribute modifiers to the equipment itself. For example, heavy armour might provide a HP bonus and a TU penalty (it might also provide a % reduction against certain types of damage). A close range weapon like a SMG might provide the user +10 TU and +10 Reflexes but inflict less damage than a Rifle would in the same situation. I'm not going to go into too much detail here - it's a simple system to understand, and it lets us balance weapons and equipment in more ways then we used to have (previously just damage, accuracy and range). Soldier Inventory: The soldier inventory system has been streamlined a little - the main weapon slot, armour slot and the belt slots are all the same as before. However instead of a backpack, soldiers now get a general "secondary item" slot that can hold a smaller item like a medikit or stun baton (but not a full-size weapon). You can still pick items up from the floor and so forth, but you have to swap out the item already in that slot when you do so. Note that the number of belt slots available and whether there will be a secondary item slot is based on the equipped armour - we now have variables to set whether certain types of armour have more carrying capacity than others. The first objective here is to be able to display all the equipment a soldier has on the UI, so you can easily access secondary items without having to go into the inventory screen and play tetris. This isn't really because inventory tetris gets tiresome (although it does), it's mostly so you can easily find the guy that has a medikit / whatever without having to go through additional layers of screens. This sort of thing worked well with the grenade / reload quickslots and I think the added convenience outweighs the slight loss of complexity. The second objective is to support some of the new mechanics above - having a SMG grant you a bunch of extra TU is a bit overpowered under the old X1 system, as the player can cheerfully sprint about with the SMG selected until they encounter some aliens and then just pull a sniper rifle out of their backpack. In this system, you're locked into your primary weapon (unless you pick one up of a dead guy) and so taking that SMG is a decision likely to have more consequences. Similarly you now have to choose between a medikit or a secondary weapon for your snipers or heavy weapon troopers, rather than just getting to take both ... and because a secondary is now a defined slot, you can have more variants of things to put in it (e.g. the pistol could easily be split into a short-range automatic machine pistol and a longer-range scoped semi-auto). Some people might be disappointed by the headline change of shrinking down the backpack, but quite honestly the change is just moving complexity elsewhere rather than simplifying the game! Stress / Fatigue: The final thing to talk about is how we are putting pressure on players to rotate their squad - as it's more interesting when you're not just using the same soldiers every single battle. We're hoping to have some pressure from the Geoscape in terms of events and Field Operations that may entice you to temporarily assign key soldiers elsewhere for a number of turns, but I think there is room for a stick as well as a carrot. The "stress" system is what may force you to rotate soldiers out of your squad. Being sent on a combat mission cause a soldier Stress, and certain battlefield events (like getting shot or seeing fellow Xenonauts killed) causes additional stress. If this ever gets too high, the soldier suffers a mental breakdown that inflicts a large amount of extra stress ... and then they are unable to fight until they have recovered. Stress heals on a daily basis, with the rate being set by the Base Comfort value of ATLAS Base. Right now this is just a fixed value but we may add new buildings (e.g. a Rec Room) that increase the Comfort level so troops recover from Stress more quickly. The other area where this system may tie into existing systems is through Morale and Bravery, which were somewhat underutilised in the first game and may be even less useful in X2 if we remove the alien psionic powers that a lot of people complained about. It's feasible that Bravery could modify the amount of stress a soldier takes from a specific event, so soldiers with higher Bravery can fight for longer before they suffer ill effects. Morale could then just show the current stress level of the soldier, and if it ever goes above 100 in a mission then the soldier starts panicking ... which means low-stress soldiers (even rookies) will essentially never panic, but taking a high-stress soldier into battle is pretty dangerous. Potentially a panicking soldier might have to pass a test at the start of each turn based on their rank / combat experience to see whether they get any TU that turn or not, so an experienced soldier could fight through the panic (although they'll suffer a breakdown after the mission) but a panicking rookie is highly unlikely to do anything useful for the remainder of the mission. Right now the implementation is kinda simple and it needs quite a bit of balancing, but I think this system could turn into something quite interesting by the end of development!
  16. The first Xenonauts game was a weird combination of being extremely moddable and not being very moddable at all. I'm very pleased with the way that we got the community involved to produce Xenonauts: Community Edition, which proved far more successful than I ever hoped it would ... and I'm also very impressed with some of the mods and maps that were made by the community (Skitso's map pack and the X-Division mod are two of the most popular, but there's been a lot of impressive content generated over the years). The goal for Xenonauts-2 is to make the game as moddable as possible. The move to Unity means there are some aspects of the game that are going to be harder to mod than before, but there are other parts that will be easier to mod. These are the areas we will be discussing in this post: Xenonauts-2: Community Edition (stretch goal) Methods of Modding Translation Editor Xenonauts-2: Community Edition: (stretch goal) If you are unfamiliar with what the "Community Edition" of the first Xenonauts was, here's a quick primer - after the game was released, we offered a number of professional programmers in the community (the best known were Solver and llunak) access to the full source code of the game in order to continue unofficial development on the game. This was done under an NDA and strictly on a non-commercial basis, but the final product was given its own sub-forum and Steam branch so is freely available to anyone who purchased Xenonauts (details here). This was an enormous success. The Community Coders did an excellent job of fixing up a few unresolved bugs / issues that were left in the release version of the game, and implemented a number of new features that the community were after - e.g. a soldier memorial screen. They also added a whole bunch of extra support for modders, which is why so many of the major mods for Xenonauts run on Community Edition rather than vanilla Xenonauts. It's amazing what skilled modders can achieve, but it's even more impressive what modders can do (and enable in the wider community) if they are professional coders with access to the source code. We would very much like to make Xenonauts-2: Community Edition a reality ... and, realistically, we'll probably find a way to do it whatever happens. But taking the time to prepare the code and set up the infrastructure around the project is a lot more time consuming than you might imagine, and therefore we're going to incorporate it into our stretch goals for the Kickstarter. Everything will work much more smoothly if we can take the time to set up the X2:CE program properly, rather than just letting the Community Coders loose on a huge codebase with no guidance or advice! We'll do our best to provide good modding tools for the community at the release of Xenonauts-2, but X2:CE will ensure the community can develop and expand the game well beyond that point! Methods of Modding: The main method of modding Xenonauts 1 was editing text files in a text editor such as Notepad, which is still viable in X2 - you can already edit many of the items and unit properties using the same method. However we spend most of our time working on the game files within Unity itself because it much easier to display the information in readable manner within the game engine. We are most likely going to create a Game Editor as a plugin for Unity when we release the game. As mentioned above, this will display the information in a manner that is easier to understand than editing the text files directly, but more importantly it will also automatically perform the mod-merging formatting that allows multiple mods to work together ... but also makes modding X1 quite a difficult process. I expect this tool to have a bit of a learning curve (especially if you don't know Unity), but it should be a valuable piece of kit for any serious modder. The Map Editor is also going to have to exist as a plugin for Unity. Unfortunately there's not really any way to seperate the level creation process from Unity itself, and there's also some potential legal issues in that we use several commercial plugins for the game that we are licensed to use but not to redistribute. It may actually be that the map editor needs to rolled into the Community Edition program where mappers become semi-affiliated with Goldhawk and the map editor is not publicly distributed. This is definitely not the ideal situation ... but sadly it's fairly difficult to make a game this complicated in Unity whilst keeping the map generation systems separate from the game engine. On the other hand, the Game Editor could theoretically exist entirely independently of Unity. Once development has finished and the data structures are fixed, it should be possible to write a program that displays the information from the various text files and allows you to edit them using a graphical interface, and also handles all the automatic mod merging. This is conceivably something we could look at post-release if the game sells well, but it's something that the Community Coders would need to be involved in (as they will need to maintain and update it once they start changing the code). Anyway, the summary is this - you can edit the game using the text files like you could in Xenonauts-2, and likely we'll have a Unity plugin for serious modders who are willing to spend a bit of time learning how it works (and there is a possibility a standalone Game Editor that combines the best of both worlds may eventually arrive). However, map creation is going to be harder than in the first Xenonauts because it's not possible for the map editor to exist outside Unity! Translation Editor: One neglected area of modding was translation - although this was certainly not because the community did not try hard enough (I remember Gam somehow translating the whole game into Italian despite all the difficulties). Basically the problem was that a translation was a mod that affected every single text string in the game, which was very hard to do in the first place and was also totally incompatible with X:CE / any other mod, and would immediately break as soon as we updated almost any file in the game. Not a good setup! We're hoping to do much better this time around. We're planning to build a specific Translation Editor that allows you to read all the text in the game in a single place and then type the equivalent text strings in a new language into a corresponding box and then save it out as a special "translation mod" that is treated differently to normal mods in order to avoid all the translation problems from the first game. Having a dedicated program that lets you easily create or edit a translation should make the game a million times easier to translate, so I expect to see a number of community-created translations so people can enjoy the game in a variety of languages (having something like this would also make it much cheaper to get a professional localization done for the game if we decided to go down that route too). As mentioned earlier, all of this modding / translation work is dependent on the funding we raise from Kickstarter and Early Access - although things would have to go very badly indeed for us to cut out support for modding / translation / X:CE given what we've seen the community do with the first game!
  17. The research tree in the first Xenonauts was functional but rather straightforward, so we'll be making some changes in the sequel to make things a bit more interesting. The main objective is to make the research progress less of straight line full of simple numerical upgrades on previous tiers, giving players the ability to skip certain tiers entirely and pump resources into others to make them viable for a longer period in the game. Because we're making the research tree wider and adding in development projects, we're likely going to be making the research tree flatter - for example, instead of three distinct tiers of weapons and armor we'll likely limit ourselves to just two tiers but add more stuff in to each one (that way your tech doesn't become obsolete after a few missions like it did in X1). We'll hopefully also be adding more items that interact with the battlefield in interesting ways, so as the game progresses you get some items that keep the combat feeling fresh and novel. These are the new systems that are discussed in this post: Development Projects Alenium Cells Weapon Tiers Multiple Ammo Types Development Projects: Everyone is familiar with the idea of Research projects and how they are used to unlock new tech, but in Xenonauts-2 we have added the concept of "development projects" as well - rather than unlocking new technology, these improve the performance of technology that already exists. These projects can either become available immediately after the technology is researched or can be triggered at a later date by further technology advances; e.g. researching Alien Alloys may unlock Wolf Armour research but could also unlock a development project to boost the stats of the Jackal Armour you already own. The idea is that these projects focus on a specific characteristic of the equipment that has been researched rather than providing bonuses to everything. For example, if you research Laser Weapons then the following projects may all immediately become available for research: Laser Weapons - Charged Emitter (provides a small damage boost) Laser Weapons - Beam Focus (provides a range boost) Laser Weapons - Battery Efficiency (expands the ammo capacity) Laser Weapons - Ergonomics (reduces the TU cost of firing the weapon) Which of the projects you want to research depends on how you use the technology; if you're primarily using Laser Shotguns then slightly boosting the range might not be particularly useful, and if you're mostly using Laser Snipers then the shot TU reduction might not be so valuable. This system is going to need a LOT of balancing to get right, but I think it could be one of the coolest new additions to the game when it's all set up correctly! Alenium Cells: In Xenonauts 1 there were two types of alien materials used to build advanced technology, Alien Alloys and Alenium. In the sequel Alien Alloys are used in the same way as before, but Alenium is treated rather differently - it is not actually consumed when you build new technology, but it is required to power advanced technology when a soldier takes it into battle (this does not permanently consume it either). Alenium therefore represents a "power limit" for the equipment your troops can bring to battle. If Laser weapons require 1 Alenium and you have 2 Alenium, you can happily build a variety of different Laser weapons but you can only ever take two of them into battle on any given mission. Getting more Alenium is not particularly difficult, but it is recovered from Abduction mission sites rather than Crash Sites (which provide tech and Alloys), so the player must choose their missions appropriately if they want to collect more. This mixes up the tech tree in an interesting way; in most cases the player will not have enough Alenium to kit their entire squad out with advanced gear, so starting equipment or specific types of advanced tech that do not require Alenium stay relevant even once you've researched ostensibly better gear. Luckily, the development projects allow you improve the stats of this lower-tier gear if you find yourself using it a lot! Weapon Tiers: These new systems allow us to have multiple types of weapon type in each tier that do different things - for example, the first tier of weapons could have Laser weapons, which are powerful but require Alenium, and Coilguns which do not require Alenium but are less powerful than Lasers. This immediately poses questions - should the player go for Lasers even though they only have enough Alenium to give them to half the squad? If so, is it worth upgrading the starting weapons so the rest of the team can be more relevant ... or do you pile all your research into improving your Lasers? Or do you pursue both Lasers and Coilguns at the same time so everyone has an advanced weapon, knowing neither type of weapon will ever be "maxed out"? Or forget Lasers entirely and use Coilguns exclusively? I'm also keen to make different types of weapons operate differently from one another - a good example being that Lasers might not have ammo in the conventional sense, instead just having a battery that recharges a set amount each turn. With more weapon tiers and the Alenium system in the game, you can also potentially make different types of aliens (and different types of soldier armour) strong or weak against different types of weapon - e.g. some kind of Electro Rifle would predominantly be used as a a ranged stun weapon, but it might also be very effective against robotic enemies ... but potentially it might heal a specific type of alien (e.g. Wraiths) if you try and use it against them. So being able to swap out elements of your loadout depending on the enemies you are facing on the mission could add another dimension to the game. It's harder to do this for other types of equipment - even armour just doesn't have as many variables to play with as weapon do - but we do want to add in some of the cool stuff from earlier X-Com games or other spiritual successors / mods. Much of this is dependent on how much money the game raises during our Kickstarter / Early Access, but it'd be great to have things like proxy grenades and motion detectors and all that stuff if we can! Multiple Ammo Types: One of the features most requested by the community is the ability to create alternative types of ammo for weapons in Xenonauts-2. This has been implemented in the game already and there are a few instances where we plan to use it to give existing weapons new capabilities - although we still need to give the UI for swapping ammo types mid-battle some thought! An example of how we might use this is to give the player access to researchable Taser slugs for the shotgun, allowing them to apply stun damage from range rather than having to run right up to a target and beat it with Stun Batons. These would be particularly useful in specific missions like the DEFCON missions, where you are attacking fellow humans and suffer a relations penalty for killing them. I'm not particularly keen to add loads of different types of ammo for each type of weapon in the style of JA2 (I think it'll be hard to combine that with having lots of new weapons types that do different things), but the functionality will exist and I've no doubt modders will make extensive use of it!
  18. One thing we're experimenting with at the moment (as well as the top-down art) is to make the side-on view more like Xenonauts 1 and classic X-Com by giving you a grid to build various structures on (tetris-style) rather than having 9 pre-set slots on either side of the missile. We were working on this this morning and it works reasonably well, although you have to push the missile backwards and hide the lower parts of the silo so it isn't blocking the building grid any more. It doesn't address the issues to do with Hangars etc that I mentioned earlier, but it does go some way towards making the game feel different to new XCOM where all the buildings are the same size etc. We'll have to see how it develops I think I might prefer it to our original side-on concept.
  19. Did you know that Xenonauts 1 already had medals for the soldiers? Something similar will be making a return in the sequel, although they're not yet implemented.
  20. Yeah, I don't see the radial map being an option. The two options are top-down and side-on, and then there's a whole bunch of potentially hybrid models. Just to be clear, the current plan (i.e. the one I was planning when I launched the Kickstarter and before this discussion happened) is to have a side-on view for the main base and an X1-style top-down view for the airbases. You're just much more limited in the buildings you have available to you in the secondary bases than you are in X1, and there's no UI to support transferring items and staff etc to those bases. @Ravn7- yeah, I imagine at some point I'll ask the opinions of the Kickstarter backers with a poll, but I want to have something more concrete for them to discuss before I do that. I am planning to write up a bit more about the base stuff tonight; I just haven't had any time because the end of the KS is getting close and I've been doing PR all day. Hopefully later on I'll find some time tho.
  21. Chris

    Xenonauts-2 Kickstarter Now Live!

    Unfortunately we're in a uniquely bad situation with regards to Paypal, as we had a clash with them a while back that makes me extremely uncomfortable about using them ever again: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/10/09/enemy-known-xenonauts-vs-paypal/
  22. The Xenonauts-2 Kickstarter page is now live and can be accessed here! We've been talking about this Kickstarter for so long that it's a little bit surreal to finally press the button and see it go live ... but it's out there now, and everyone here at Goldhawk HQ has their fingers crossed that the next 30 days goes well! We'd hugely appreciate any support you guys were willing to give us, particularly if you're willing to help us get off to a strong start by backing us in the first 24 hours! All the information you need is on the Kickstarter page, but if you want to help us by spreading the word then please: Tell any friends you think might be interested in the game! Mention our Kickstarter campaign in any gaming communities that you are part of! Upvote our announcement on Reddit! Retweet our Twitter announcement! Anything else you can think of! Anyone that backs the Kickstarter is eligible to vote for the ordering of the stretch goals on our Google Forms poll during the first week of the Kickstarter. If you want to vote, the poll can be accessed here. A few brief points of interest to anyone that has been following the Kickstarter planning: Every custom soldier (£35+) is now eligible for a custom portrait created through the Portrait Editor, rather than this being limited to the £75 tier I decided to remove the £75 and £100 tiers entirely We fixed a couple of bugs in the Portrait Editor that meant red hair was not working, and certain skin tones did not show eyes if you switched immediately to them If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask them here. I suspect I'll be pretty active on the forums and the Kickstarter page over the next couple of days
  23. I think people are entirely within their rights to lower pledges or not support the game if they don't like the proposed features or they don't like the sound of what we might change it to - if people care deeply about a choice and it's not something I can definitively say "this is how we're going to do it" then I'd rather people reduced their pledges to a level they were comfortable with rather than getting annoyed later on because we're not delivering what they thought they were going to get. The costs of redoing the art for the base aren't going to be that big if we choose to switch to top-down rather than side-on, to the point the artist is working on a concept of a top-down base right now so we can properly compare them. I'm waiting on that before I make any serious decisions; if we can get a nice-looking underground base and also have an upper "defenses" level that goes on top of it which shows the Base Defence map layout and the surrounding exterior terrain then I think most people will accept changing to a top-down view without much fuss. The side-on view has a much better sense of "place" than the base in X1, and it'd be great if we could also create that if we went with a top-down view in X2. Being able to see the terrain around your base would certainly be a good way to make it feel more alive than in X1. Personally, I've definitely seen more negativity around the change to the side-on view than I have positivity (speaking about the Kickstarter, here on the forums, on reddit, elsewhere etc). I'm aware that this can be misleading as people who are annoyed are much more likely to post messages than people who like something are ... but looking into it in more detail, I don't think I realised quite how many people just like messing around building extra bases and second teams even though they *know* it's stupid and sub-optimal. A lot of people just seem to like doing it simply because it makes them feel more like a commander of a secret organisation. I never bother with that sorta stuff, so I didn't really think many people would miss the feature. Once I started asking around I can kinda see why people would ... and actually thinking back to when I first started playing X-Com all those years ago, I guess I did spend a few games messing about with multiple bases and I think I really liked the fact you could do that even if it wasn't particularly helpful. I've spent so long playing / making this sort of game that I'm probably not the best judge of what the average player wants from this sort of game! In any case, there's not really *that* much difference mechanically between the top-down multiple base system I'm considering and the side-on ATLAS / airbase system, so I'll probably write up a longer post outlining a bit more of the stuff that might change and the stuff that definitely won't change tomorrow.
  24. This version of Xenonauts 2 is a free public test build only available on GOG Galaxy. It is the build we are planning to use as the public demo for our Kickstarter and it is likely to be the last of our free public builds, and you can get it here: https://www.gog.com/game/xenonauts_2_demo We've fixed a few more bugs in the previous version and we think this is a good place to stop updates; things seem sufficiently stable and playable for an alpha demo. We do have extra features in the developer builds we don't want to risk copying them across to the public builds in case they introduce extra bugs (plus this way the beta will seem like a major step up from our public builds!) If you're interested in getting a notification when our Kickstarter launches, please sign up for our mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/4FKe9 CHANGELOG: Main menu now has a "Play Game" option instead of the "New Game" and "Load Game" options. Soldier inventory button now switches weapons (same functionality as pressing "X") instead of just doing nothing. Units moving from roofs down to the ground no longer appear as a ghost for a few seconds. Fixed the crash that occurs when a civilian gets into your dropship for real this time. Small updates to the text of the "do you want to turn on error reporting" and "gameplay tutorial" pop-ups. The game now displays "alpha build" in the bottom left of the screen. No massive changes there, but it'd be helpful if people could give the build a play at some point and let us know if you experience any major issues. It's unlikely we'll make any additional changes or fixes unless there are critical gameplay bugs or major crashes in the build, as any change we make has a chance of introducing further bugs - but if there are any issues we'd definitely like to know about them before the Kickstarter begins. More news on the Kickstarter (and hopefully a firm launch date) later this week!
  25. The Geoscape is the central command and control screen of Xenonauts-2. It is here that the war against the aliens unfolds, with aliens units and UFOs appearing on the map and you assigning your limited number of aircraft and soldiers to defend the funding regions of the world as best you can. This thread explains a number of the new systems that we've added to make the experience substantially deeper and more complex than the equivalent in X1, but given that the systems for the Geoscape and your main base are linked closely together you should also read the corresponding thread about ATLAS Base. Our overall objective with these Geoscape changes was to empower the player and give them more strategic choices during a campaign. The first Xenonauts essentially has just one viable Geoscape strategy (rushing interceptor coverage), whereas hopefully this post will illustrate that the sequel is giving you far more options to play with! These are the systems covered: DEFCON System Threat Meter Region Relations & Infiltration Agents & Field Operations Readiness Operation Endgame Turn-Based Geoscape DEFCON System: Our first major change was to give the game player a thematically appropriate loss condition. The DEFCON counter represents how close the world is to nuclear war, and if it ever hits zero then the aliens have successfully triggered World War 3 and you lose the game. The DEFCON counter moves down by one when you lose a funding region or fail to deal with a terror site, and it goes up by one when you complete a "DEFCON Mission". This is a new type of ground mission that can only be attempted in the US or the Soviet Union and involves capturing / killing a warmongering local military officer so that someone more level-headed can take over. Successfully removing the VIP lowers global tension but also inflicts a relations penalty in the local region. If the mission turns into a bloodbath, this relations penalty can be rather severe - but if you've been using non-lethal weapons it is far lower. We'll be adding some additional stun weapons to the tech tree so you can go the non-lethal route if you want to! This is a pretty simple system but it works well to communicate how close the player is to losing the game at any given time, and also to cut short games where the player is losing badly - it's definitely a big improvement over the rather opaque loss conditions of the first Xenonauts! Threat Meter: The second new system represents the other loss condition - having your base destroyed by the aliens. The Threat Bar starts at 0 and runs all the way up to 100, and an alien attack against ATLAS base is triggered once it fills up. Hostile actions against the aliens (e.g. shooting down a UFO) generate Threat, but the aliens that attack your base are the same irrespective of how far into the game the attack(s) occur. Triggering the first attack close to the start of the game makes for a very difficult fight; managing to evade detection until you have some advanced equipment and better base defences means that the same aliens will be much less threatening. This concept represents the aliens being having limited forces available and being primarily interested in their own objectives rather than hunting you down. However, the more you interfere with their plans - and the more blatantly you do so - the greater the chance of them diverting resources to wiping your out (as happened to CENTRAL Base at the start of the game). The player can passively manage Threat by carefully choosing what missions to take / UFOs to shoot down, as some of them are not immediately threatening and can be ignored if Threat is dangerously high. The second can also burn off Threat directly - a field agent in a region is able to frame a local organisation for your actions (e.g. in the US an Agent might generate false evidence that the CIA had been behind some of the anti-alien actions that the Xenonauts carried out). This reduces your current Threat level but leads to the aliens destroying the target organisation and weakening the whole region, shortening the Relations bar there and making it more vulnerable to alien infiltration in the long-term. This is explained further in the Region Relations & Infiltration section. How much the player wants to manage Threat is a choice - the intention is to balance the game so a player playing a normal balanced strategy with a competent squad of soldiers doesn't have to worry about it too much (at least on the easier difficulty settings), but it is a much bigger concern if you're focusing heavily on rushing base expansion or air dominance in the early game and consequently have a weaker squad of soldiers and less advanced tech. It also gives us the ability to tie it into certain Geoscape events or other systems - perhaps one of your Agents failed a mission and is about to be killed by the aliens, but you can evacuate him if you're willing to take a Threat penalty etc. Region Relations & Infiltration: There are six funding regions on the Geoscape and each one now models their relations with the Xenonauts on their 10-tile Relations Bar. Each point of Relations is represented by a green square on the left-hand side of the relations bar, which represents local support for the Xenonauts and grants the player a certain amount of funding each week. The Infiltration in each region is now also tracked and shown by red squares added to the right-hand side of the same bar. If a tile becomes contested, Infiltration takes priority and the extra Relations are permanently lost. A region is lost to the aliens if the Infiltration level is ever double the Relations level. This means Infiltration is not dangerous in small amounts but becomes increasingly problematic as it gets higher, and specific alien Geoscape activity tends to either add Infiltration to a region or lower your Relations in that region (but not both). Some missions are therefore more dangerous in certain regions than they are in others. It is also worth noting that the Relations bar in a region can be shortened if the player decides to use a field agent to burn off Threat. The side effect of this is to remove one or more tiles from the Relations Bar, which does not alter the raw Relations / Infiltration levels but does move them closer together and potentially lead to Infiltration overwriting Relations. For example, if you shortened the relations bar by 2 tiles in a region where there was 5 Relations and 5 Infiltration, you would go down to 3 Relations in that region (causing you a funding loss and leaving the region perilously close to flipping to the aliens). Infiltration can be bought under control using field agents using their Reduce Infiltration action. This is covered in more detail in the Agents & Field Operations section but the effectiveness of this action is based on combat experience, so you can always drop your best soldier into a region to bring the situation under control if Infiltration is looking dangerous. However, this will potentially tie them up on the Geoscape for an extended period of time. Agents & Field Operations: The Agent system allows you to assign your soldiers to specific regions as Agents, which allows them to conduct abstracted text-based undercover missions called Field Operations in that region. There are a variety of different field operations to choose from and the player knows the duration and success chance of the mission in advance; although different ones rely on different skills. The purpose of this system is to give the player a way to intervene directly in a troubled region and generally exert more control over the Geoscape. The hope is that it will also encourage you to rotate your soldiers - e.g. if a couple of experienced soldiers with particular skills are required to spend a week dealing with a specific situation in one of the regions, you'll have to use someone different in you combat teams while they are away. The field operations on offer at the moment are fairly straightforward ones based around improving relations and reducing infiltration and so forth, but in the long term I'd like to tie it into other systems like Operation Endgame and also add some more situational missions for the player to conduct. Given that field operations are rather powerful, there are limitations on the number you can run at any given time (plus you need the space for all the extra soldiers) - but this can be expanded by upgrading ATLAS Base. I think there's also scope to add in alien counter-play here - e.g. Alien Kill Teams could occasionally spawn in regions that have ongoing field operations and either force you to either destroy the Kill Team with your soldiers, abandon your operation and pull your Agent out, or continue the operation and risk having them killed. Readiness: The Readiness mechanic controls the number of Geoscape actions a player can perform. In game terms it represents the maintenance level of the helicopter dropship at ATLAS Base - so if an action requires Readiness and your helicopter isn't airworthy, you can't do it. Given the helicopter is primarily used to deploy soldiers to Geoscape combat sites, the primary function of the system is to act as a check on the number of combat missions you can play across the course of the game. It was problematic in Xenonauts 1 that there was nothing to stop the player from fighting every single crash site and combat mission spawned on the Geoscape (other than the fact it was extremely boring); this now means the player has to pick and choose rather than do them all. As there are unpleasant overtones of the Firaxis XCOM "choose one of three missions" system here, it's important to note that the player has far more freedom in this setup. You're not arbitrarily barred from doing multiple sites in a single day if you have enough Readiness to launch two missions, and the Readiness generation rate can be increased if you hire additional Engineers and assign them to the Hangar at ATLAS Base. You can run more combat missions than a normal player if you want to - but you need to make a conscious choice to do so and devote resources to it. The final cool feature to mention here is that Readiness can also allow us to expand the base mechanics - for instance, by bringing back Stores Capacity. We're experimenting with a system where Readiness isn't just used to deploy troops on combat missions - a secondary use is to buy things and hire personnel from the Stores screen (the helicopter has to fly and pick up those supplies). This means that the player has to choose carefully when they want to buy / hire, because they are wasting Readiness if they do it too often - so you might not want to hire replacement soldiers immediately after taking casualties, as if you wait a few more days until your Lab finishes building you can hire six new scientists at the same time and save Readiness. Having more Storage Capacity at your base allows you to buy more stuff with each supply run, making your base more efficient. Operation Endgame: As the name suggests, Operation Endgame is the final mission and winning it wins you the game. The player is given an "Endgame Completion" meter at the start of the game that can be filled in a variety of ways; once this is filled to 100% the player is allowed to launch the final mission whenever they want. This process takes a long time, but the player must balance completing Endgame too early (wasting resources if you're not yet ready to fight the final mission) against the risk of unlocking it too late and losing the game. These are some of the ways I am considering allowing Endgame advancement: You get a certain passive gain each turn from the Chief Scientist You can assign additional Scientists to Research Command in ATLAS Base to increase this passive gain Research projects like alien autopsies / alien interrogations / UFO datacores / etc no longer auto-complete, but now give Endgame advancement if researched Certain Geoscape missions and field operations could also grant Endgame advancement This means the player does not have to jump through incredibly specific hoops in order to make progress towards unlocking the final mission (e.g. go capture a Praetor!), but rather there are a large number of hoops available and the player can choose which ones they want to jump through - capturing aliens alive etc will still give you a boost to your Endgame progress, but you don't have to do it to progress. I also think it would be neat if we linked some specific unlocks to certain levels of Endgame completion - e.g. perhaps at 30% Endgame completion you know enough about the aliens to unlock the Hyperwave Decoder - and thus rushing Endgame progress becomes yet another possible strategy that the player could attempt. Not sure how well that will work in practice, but there's no harm in trying it out! Realtime Geoscape: After a long period of experimentation with a turn-based Geoscape in X2, we've decided to keep the realtime Geoscape mechanics from the original Xenonauts. The turn-based Geoscape did allow us to create more interesting tactical decisions for the player, but it also felt simpler and less interactive than the mechanics from X1 did. We therefore decided it would be better to retain the X1 mechanics and try to address a few of the weaknesses. The main 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. This means there was less strategy to the interceptions than there should be. 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. We also want to display information to the player in a clearer way - for instance, if three UFOs spawn within five minutes of each other, we may as well spawn them at the same time so the player can make a decision about where to send his interceptors without having to keep shuffling his assignments as new UFOs spawn in every five seconds. We'll do the same for construction work and research projects etc, collating that stuff to the nearest hour (or whatever) rather than tracking it to the exact minute. Finally, we're also going to experiment with moving the radar coverage from your bases to the Geoscape regions themselves in order to fix the "optimal place to put your base" issue - or at least make the decision harder for the player. Under this system, you'll have to purchase radar coverage over each region individually, so placing a base in the Middle East will cover a lot of territory but you might need to buy radar coverage over four or five regions to use it properly.
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