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Chris

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  1. Chris

    August Update

    Yeah, apologies for the confusion there. The August Update is just a developer news update, rather than a game update. All the code work on the maps has meant we haven't been able to release a build for the last few months but we're getting towards the end of that now and we're looking into when we'll start putting builds out again.
  2. It's time for the monthly update on our progress on Xenonauts 2. The stuff we've been working on this month has largely been nitty-gritty work on fundamental game systems like the fog of war / shroud and the way that levels load, which are necessary but broke our existing maps and prevented us from releasing new builds until all the code work (and the subsequent bugfixes) and the new maps were completed. We're now nearing the end of this process, and we've also been working on a few other systems you'll hopefully appreciate in the next release. This is a long post because these systems are complicated stuff and I know a lot of people in our community like reading it. If you're not in that category, just skip to the next heading once you get bored! Dynamic Map Loading: Maps in Xenonauts 2 are now created when the game tries to load the map, rather than being a pre-baked file. The map file exists as a sort of "plan" for the level, but some or all of the level can be randomised depending on how the map is put together. I won't go into too much detail because although this is an excellent system, it's not exactly groundbreaking stuff - the same system is used in Xenonauts 1, XCOM2 and is even used in the original X-Com to some degree. There were technical reasons that meant we weren't confident we'd be able to make it work properly in Unity at the beginning of the project but we've managed to overcome them and maps are now loading dynamically. This improves the player experience because it allows the Xenonaut base defence missions to mirror the layout of your actual base like they did in X1 and X-Com, because it allows more potential randomisation within a level, and because it will save you a great deal of hard drive space and download time when playing X2. It also means that fully-functional features will no longer be roadblocked because they require incredibly time-consuming map updates - something that recently affected advanced dropships and night missions (both of which worked but weren't worth updating the maps over). If you're interested in why this sort of thing happens, it's because a pre-baked map cannot be changed on load and thus you need a seperate version of each map for each ufo or dropship (or any other type of variant) it might support. If you take X1 which had three dropships, 7 UFOs and 6 map biomes, and assume you want five different maps per UFO per biome, the number of maps for crashsites is 3 x 7 x 6 x 5 = 630. And you probably want a landed (rather than crashed) variant of each of those UFOs, too, so you can double that to 1,260 maps. Each map is about 7 megabytes on the file system, so those crashsite maps would take up 10gb on your hard drive. The problem there is that if you implement a new feature like night missions, you often have to specify where those systems apply. For instance, Alien Base missions shouldn't be affected by the night / day cycle because they are underground. That means we need to update the map settings for every map to contain a value for whether that map should respond to the day / night cycle or not, and under the old system I would need to potentially update the settings on over a thousand different maps and then regenerate all those maps so the new settings are saved into them. Not only would that take me days, it means that that tiny change to the map settings requires every player to download a 10gb update. Clearly, that would be madness. Our new solution means a map can load in the desired dropship / UFO / etc at the start of the mission, so the number of maps is far lower and each one is only a few hundred kilobytes. Putting additional dropships into a map or activating night missions becomes something I can do in half an hour and is 10mb update for our players. Although this change has disrupted a lot of things over the past month, it's also going to pay big dividends very quickly. New Ground Combat Maps / Art Style: I've been very busy over the past couple of months making our new maps and trying to make the ground combat visuals more consistent. We've been working with an external studio to look over the 3d art we've already done and they've retextured most of the assets in the Desert and Polar biomes since then, and are just starting on the Farm biome. I hope that when you see the new designs you'll think they are already better than the old visuals, but in the short term the main focus is just consistency - everything in each map needs a consistent level of detail and texture style so individual parts don't look out of place and break the immersion. There's a few subtly different artistic styles / choices we need to explore before we can call anything final (e.g. do we want to lean more realistic or use slightly exaggerated black lines to make objects pop like they do in X1? do we want the ground tiles to be relatively low-detail to let the player focus on the units and props that make up the playable battlefield, or do we try to dial up the detail at the cost of clarity?) so hopefully our ground combat maps will continue to improve as the we work through the remaining assets. I've created a new set of maps for the Alien Base and the Desert, Polar, and Farm maps for the small UFOs (the first three UFOs that all fit within a 18x18 grid). Our previous set of maps were pretty much fully randomised, but I've taken a step back from this and created specific areas of the map that are randomised while other parts are not randomised at all. Personally, I think this gives a map that feels more "designed" while still supporting more randomisation than we had in X1, but hopefully the system below means we won't need the randomisation as much anyway. Biome / Map Randomisation & Raids: As well as the small UFO maps, I've designed a few Raid maps for the Desert / Farm / Polar biomes. These already exist in the game (they're basically mini-terror sites in tight urban environments with no UFOs) but I plan to make them occur more frequently and support all the major biomes. They'll contain Alenium Bombs which give the player a strategic resource reward (i.e. some Alenium) for completion so they don't become a chore in the same way that Terror Sites sometimes could. The reason why I think this is interesting is because it ties in nicely with our new system to minimise map repetition. Why is this important? In the first Xenonauts, most of the battles were crash sites - so if you build your first base in a desert region of the world then you'll mostly be shooting down UFOs near that base and generating a lot of Desert crash site missions. The maps are picked randomly, so if there's five Desert maps available that support the first three UFO types, there's a decent chance you'll see a map repeat before you've even played five missions (even though the game had 100+ maps in it). Nothing kills the excitement in a combat mission faster than immedeiately recognising the map. Our new system attacks this problem in multiple ways. Firstly, it tries to randomise the biome of a map if possible - each spot on the Geoscape can support up to two biomes, so if the mission occurs in a specific place on the map (i.e. a UFO crash site) then the game will pick the biome that has been encountered least often in the last ten maps. If the mission just spawns somewhere within a region (e.g. Raids) then the game will check all the biomes available within that region and spawn the mission in a spot that supports the biome that has occurred least frequently. Once the biome is set, the game will then check a list of the last 100 missions you've played across all of your different campaigns. It will check the map "family" of all valid maps and try to pick one that you've not already seen, and then it will look inside the map family and try to pick a specific map you've not seen before. If you're unclear what a map "family" is, it's basically a group of linked maps - every unique map has its own family, but if we then create variants of that map (e.g. changing the spawn or UFO location, slightly changing the layout) then they will share the same family as the original map. What this means is that every time you shoot down a UFO, the game will attempt to pick a biome you've not seen recently and will then search within that biome for any valid unique maps you've not seen before. If there aren't any available, the game will try to pick a variant of that map if one is available before it finally shows you a map you've seen before - and then then, there might be enough randomisation in the layout that you don't recognise it. The game will continue to track what maps you've seen even if you restart the game. Raids work well within this system because they offer lots of additional variation. The map pool doesn't overlap with the crash sites, and contains more densely packed buildings that should give the mission a different feel to the UFO missions. Most importantly, though, they allow the game to place missions in biomes you're unlikely to see much of otherwise - e.g. if you've mostly been seeing Desert and Arid maps and the game generates a Raid in North America, it'll probably stick it up in a polar outpost up in Alaska or Northern Canada. If the game mixes in one Raid for every two or three Crash Sites then I think it'll have a big effect on how repetitive the game feels. Or at least I hope so! Ground Tile Destruction: Although the ground in Xenonauts 2 isn't destructible in the sense that you can't actually blow hole in the world and then fall through it, it also hasn't shown visible damage up until now. Explosive weapons used to place a decal on the ground to show their point of impact, but this never looked particularly convincing and didn't really bear any relation to the tile grid and the objects on it. Making the ground tiles visually react to damage inflicted on them makes weapons (particularly explosive weapons) feel meatier and more powerful. We did some experimentation with 3d craters but anything that cuts into the ground looks kinda weird because units end up hovering above it, so we're just using a tile-based damage decal overlay system similar to what we had in the first game. It's not the most exciting feature ever, but honestly I'm happy to see it in because there we had some concerns it wouldn't be possible to implement the ground destruction without breaking batching on the ground tiles and thus causing massive performance issues (thankfully we found a way to do it that does not affect performance at all). Hopefully we can now use the same method to replace the blood effects with something that looks better, too. New Ground Combat UFO Style: The new UFO style that we've been showing off in recent months (a new set of UFOs using the X1 style) has finally made it into the ground combat, replacing the grey box style that we've been using up to this point. Implementing this has been challenging - the X1 system of hiding the hull when you see inside the UFO and instead showing the interior floorplan took a lot of time to get right back in X1 in 2D, and it proved even more complicated in 3D. But it's a good system and after a lot of trial and error we managed to iron the bugs out and now have the code side of things working as intended. The game now contains 4 UFOs, which have been modelled up but are currently untextured white models. The reason for this is that we want to playtest the interior spaces of these UFOs before we do the final texturing - if we want to enlarge / shrink them or change their shape, it's much easier to do that before the texture work begins. I'm currently expecting there to be 8 crashable UFOs in the game so we'll be unveling the larger ones as the designs for them are completed. Fog of War / Shroud Changes: We've been working on some really low-level stuff to do with the shroud and fog of war. It's easy to take for granted how smoothly the system in X1 works (one of the things the game does well is show what tiles are visible and what are not), but there's quite a few little edge cases that cause trouble with this sort of stuff. In X2 we darken everything that was in the shroud to black and return it to colour when the player has vision on it, which works pretty well in most cases but has a few issues that need to be ironed out. For example, if you have a tall tree sitting in the shroud directly below a group of tiles that you have vision on, you'll still be able to see the silhouette of a tree jutting into the playable area. This happens often enough that it gives the edge of the shroud an irregular and "cluttered" feel. So we've had to implement a system that actually entirely hides the models on any tile that isn't visible to the player. This stops objects you can't see from interfering with the playable area - but because we're now in 3D, there was knock-on effects. Those objects cast shadows, should the shadow of that tree be visible if it falls onto a tile even if the tree itself isn't visible? Or should the shadow only pop into existence when the model itself is seen? Anyway, there's still a few shroud / line of sight artifacts that we ideally need to fix up, but hopefully you'll notice that the vision feels a bit cleaner next time you play. Summary: I'm just going to wrap things up with a very quick summary, as this is a really long post already. In terms of 2D art things have been pretty slow this month; we got the final artwork for the new Phantom interceptor done but a couple of our important artists have been busy so not much else happened beyond some work on the end-game exosuit armour and some progress on the Fighter UFO design. A different artist we had high hopes for also seems to have disappeared from the face of the Earth too, which is frustrating because it means we've wasted some time and money there - but that sort of thing happens from time to time in game development. The timing of the next build is dependent on how well the level design work goes more than anything else, so I'm going to keep working at that and then see where we are in a couple of weeks (it's taking me roughly one week per biome at the moment so I'd hope to have five of the biomes done by then). Sorry everything's been a bit quiet here and there's not been a build recently, but hopefully now you guys understand why!
  3. The air combat mechanics in Xenonauts 2 are another area of the game that have seen substantial changes throughout development. Way back in the original stages of the project the Geoscape was actually turn-based, so we had a turn-based air combat model to go along with this. We started properly experimenting with this once the Kickstarter was done and despite several iterations it became clear that the turn-based design we had was pretty bad and thus we reverted back to the X1 air combat model. Although we've added a few features to add a bit more variation, I still think there's potential for improvement. This is discussed in more detail under the following headings: Current Implementation Modular Aircraft Potential Future Implementation Current Implementation: We're currently using the air combat model from the first Xenonauts in Xenonauts 2. Some people really liked this air combat, some people really hate it, and I'm somewhere in the middle. However, the important thing is that if we are unable to improve on a specific part the original Xenonauts we should at least not make it any worse - so we're committed to the X1 model unless we can come up with something I think is definitely better. As there's a good chance the game will ship with X1-style air combat, I've looked over the mechanics and made a few changes to try and make things a bit more varied. For example, some UFOs now have shield bubbles on the map that absorb incoming damage, but you can fly your interceptors inside the shields to bypass them entirely. Some UFOs won't engage your fighters and will instead try to fly away from them while slowly gathering speed and peppering your jets with beam weapons capable of slowly rotating to track targets. Additionally, most of the UFO designs will be new. I therefore think the air combat will still feel fairly fresh to most players if we stick with this combat model even if the fundamental mechanics haven't changed a great deal. Modular Aircraft: The original Xenonauts had four combat interceptors with different capabilities and weapon slots. This setup worked, but I feel it artificially limited the freedom of the player and the lifespan of any given aircraft. Once your Condors became obselete and were too fragile to use in a dogfight, you couldn't for example convert them to carry heavy missiles and fight weaker UFOs at long range because they were physically incapable of doing so. Instead, you had to scrap them. In X2 we're experimenting with a setup where there are fewer interceptor types, but a wider variety of equipment available to them. Your starting interceptor type can carry any kind of weapon and can either be configured as a light fighter (capable of performing an evasive roll) or a tougher and more heavily armoured fighter that cannot roll. That way, it's possible to set the starting fighter up in either of the "dogfighter" (Condor) or "missile mule" (Foxtrot) roles from X1 - and the player can switch between configurations in a matter of hours if the need arises. More advanced interceptors have do have better base stats than the earlier interceptors and are superior to their older counterparts, but aircraft now have an armour slot as well as weapon slots and the early interceptors still have access to the same upgradeable armour as the advanced interceptors do. This means that even the starting interceptor remains somewhat viable throughout the game, because it'll become tougher as the game goes on. Honestly, we don't yet know whether this is an improvement - it's kinda cool to research and build a shiny new advanced fighter, after all - but it's easy enough to switch back to the X1 setup if we want. The feedback from people playtesting the game will probably play a big factor in which way we decide to go. Potential Future Implementation: I haven't entirely given up on the idea of finding a better air combat system. On reflection, I think our last attempt at the turn-based air combat failed because it was trying to do a very similar thing as the X1 air combat system, but doing it worse. Coming up with something fundamentally different is more likely to be successful. So, what are the aims for any new system? Each battle is relatively fast to play through The skill comes from playing percentages / weighing up the risks and rewards of different moves, rather than "twitch" skills like pressing a button with perfect timing To keep things varied, battles shouldn't always play out the same way each time even if the same combatants are involved Ideally, the system would allow pilot progression I'm currently experimenting with a system I think works quite well. The battlefield has 5 range bands between your interceptor and the UFO, and weapons have different damage / hit chance % at different ranges. All the player does each turn is issue their fighter a stance, the key ones being Close Distance, Fire Weapons or Evade, and this controls which types of weapons can fire - Heavy weapons only fire if you give the Fire Weapons command, whereas Light weapons can also fire while moving forwards (Evading prevents any weapons from firing). This system works because the UFO is made up of a series of modules with different effects and cooldowns, so the UFO does different things each turn. A UFO might have a powerful long-range main cannon that can only fire every three turns and a short-range secondary cannon that can fire every turn. It might also have a shield generator that provides a shield every 4 turns that dissipates over several turns. It might have a point defence weapon that destroys all incoming missiles, but takes 3 turns to recharge once it fires. Picking what action to take is mostly dependent on which systems the UFO has on cooldown that turn, and which systems your own interceptor has on cooldown. The nice thing here is that the player attack specific systems on the UFO (although this incurs an aim penalty) - e.g. if you think the shield generator is going to cause you problems, you could try to pick it off at the start of the combat with a long range volley of missiles. There's also a random chance modules suffer damage when you hit the hull of the UFO with a normal attack, which can change the way the battle plays out. There's also room for pilots that can level up with experience, because the weapons have hit %s and pilots could simply grant a +hit % bonus as they level up. Another interesting idea is that each UFO type might have several slightly different module configurations to increase variety, or that the modules on a particular class might level up and become more effective as the invasion goes on. Maybe a Fighter UFO with a Plasma Blaster isn't too dangerous an opponent, but once the aliens start deploying Advanced Plasma Blasters then those same Fighters suddenly become much more of a threat. The system still needs more iteration before I think about trying to integrate it into the game, but I'm going to keep working on it in my spare time. It's pretty quick to play but does still offer up interesting situations and there's some quite exciting ideas there (being able to shoot off specific UFO components, having pilots that level up), so if I can solve a few of the thorny design issues that still remain then perhaps the dream of an improved X2 air combat model will rise from the dead!
  4. Hi everyone - time for another monthly update, and lots of tactical combat changes to talk about! The first new thing we've been working on is the art for the modular MARS, and you can see a couple of the concepts below. The in-game models are nearly complete but not yet set up in the game. The MARS is now a vehicle that can use one of three primary weapons (rocket launcher, cannon, machinegun) that are all upgradeable as you research new weapon tiers. The MARS also has heavy / light armour variants (also upgradeable), which allows you to give the vehicle additional HP at the cost of slightly reducing its time units (the concepts above don't show this, but it's reflected on the model - the tracks and body have additional armour, etc). Finally, the chassis itself can be upgraded - once you reach a certain tech level you will be able to upgrade the tracks into a hover chassis which has additional TU and jetpack functionality. This replaces the existing "ARES" vehicle, so the MARS is now the only vehicle in the game - but a MARS vehicle you build at the start of the game can be continually upgraded all the way throughout the game to change from a tracked unit with steel armour and a ballistic weapon into a hovertank with alloy armour and powerful plasma weapons. We're planning to test this is the game to see if its fun. The idea is that your vehicle doesn't become obselete in the same way that a soldier doesn't become obselete; you just keep giving them new equipment throughout the game to keep them relevant. But the alternative setup is to split the hover chassis out into a seperate vehicle called the ARES with improved stats and then force the player to build a new vehicle. It's sometimes kinda fun to get a whole new unit rather than an upgrade, so we'll see how it feels. Secondly, we've been working a lot of things that improve the general look and feel of the ground combat. The first thing is updating the texturing and lighting in our tactical combat maps to be a bit more like the painted style in the original Xenonauts (softer lighting, less visual noise, etc). If you've not been playing the closed beta builds then the need for this visual update may not be obvious (because we don't tend to take screenshots of bits of the game that look bad), but the visual quality of the biomes and the objects within each is currently quite inconsistent. Some stuff looks great, whereas other stuff very much does not. This new approach is giving everything a more consistent level of quality and that means the scenes feel like they join together better. The new Desert and Polar biomes are taking shape nicely; I was hoping to show off some screenshots in this update but sadly we're still not quite there. Hopefully soon. We've also made two code changes that also improve the clarity of the maps. The first is that the shroud now hides objects on hidden tiles - whereas previously a tall tree on a hidden tile could cause a black tree-shaped shadow to rise from the shroud and cover part of the battlefield, now the tree only pops into existence when the tile it stands on becomes visible. This makes a surprisingly large difference to how clear and clean the map feels. Additionally, we've changed the height of our tiles to be 2.25 meters tall instead of 3 meters tall, which means our tiles are now very similar in dimensions to what they were in the first game. When we started development on Xenonauts 2 we decided to make tiles 3m tall because it was a nice round number (especially as tiles are 1.5m wide) and it's actually a more realistic ceiling height than 2.25m in most buildings, but in practice it causes problems because units are only 2m tall and so 3m high walls tend to obscure a lot of the action if you're fighting in tight enclosed spaces - which is a pity, because X-Com games are generally most exciting when you're fighting in relatively tight spaces. People playing the closed beta would probably have noticed that their interior spaces of UFOs feel quite restricted and hard to fight in; this should fix that. One final set of code changes we've made to improve ground combat is to speed things up a bit. We recently increased the run speed of units, and we've now updated the code to remove the pause before units die - they should now start playing their death animation instantly after recieving lethal damage (whereas previously they'd stand still for a second or so before dying). Combat in Xenonauts and original X-Com is actually very snappy - units move quickly, shoot quickly, and die quickly - and getting that snappiness into Xenonauts 2 helps make the game feel more responsive and fun to play. A couple more systems we've been working on but aren't quite yet finished are the new UFOs and the night missions. The night missions are pretty much done, but although the fog of war works correctly the shroud is ignoring lighting and being revealed up to the normal vision range of units, which feels kinda weird. Once that's fixed they'll be playable. The new UFO hull hiding system (i.e. when you see the inside of a UFO, the hull disappears and it turns into a floorplan like in X1) seems to be working well too, and we're in the process of blocking out the hull models and floorplans for the first 4-5 UFOs. Once we've playtested the interior spaces of these UFOs and we're happy with them, we'll do the final texturing on the outer hulls. That's enough from me for now - you can expect another update in four weeks time! Thanks for reading.
  5. Today we're releasing a final hotfix for Beta Build V8 that is on our Experimental Branch. You'll need to switch to those branches if you want to get an update over Build V7; please follow the link above for instructions on how to change branches. Changelog: Terror maps should no longer begin with 2 soldiers stuck in the tail of the dropship. Dropships now have 20% more range so should be able to reach anywhere in the world. Converted Fusion Pistols / Rifles should now have ammo when built. Dead or critically wounded soldiers are now immediately removed from the dropship, meaning the game will not crash if you attempt a second mission with the same dropship after taking casualties. It is no longer possible to build aircraft in unfinished hangars at secondary bases, consuming the funds but not granting the aircraft. Fixed an issue where the soldier arrow scrolling on the Soldier Equip screen could start alternating between different soldier categories (different dropships / unassigned category). Fixed an issue with the Healthbar in the ground combat UI showing a bunch of decimal points after a soldier is healed. This is likely to be the last batch of fixes for V8 and if all goes well the build will be pushed out onto Stable soon. Let us know if you encounter any further bugs, though, as they may be relevant for V9 which will be arriving relatively soon!
  6. Sorry for the slow reply. Are there major gamebreaking bugs (rather than missing content) that still need to be fixed in V13.2? I must admit I've been knee-deep in the new map stuff so I've not really been paying too much attention. I'm not entirely sure when the next major build is coming yet, as the maps are undergoing major surgery at the moment and we've made some big changes that should make the game much better but are gonna take a bit of time to work through the system. Realistically I guess about 4 weeks from now we should hopefully have enough assets and maps to put out a new release with the new UFOs and visuals?
  7. This is the second hotfix for Beta Build V13, fixing a several more important bugs. You'll need to be on the Experimental Branch to access the build. Changelog: Fixed a crash bug where if you saved and then loaded a ground combat mission the game would crash at the end of the mission. Fixed a crash bug where certain desert maps would crash at the end of the mission. Fixed a bug where the upgrade projects were not working for aircraft or for the MARS. Fixed a bug where the MARS rocket weapon fire costs were absolute values, not relative values. This meant if you equipped the heavy armour the weapon was too expensive to fire. Equipping heavy armour on an aircraft increases the max HP of the aircraft, but you now need to repair up to that new max HP. This means it is no longer possible to heal aircraft by swapping between normal and heavy armour and back again. Sell price of the MARS is now $50k instead of $10k. Please let us know if you encounter any further issues with V13, as we will make further hotfix branches if necessary.
  8. The Geoscape is the central command and control screen of Xenonauts-2. It is here that the war against the aliens unfolds, with extraterrestrial units and UFOs appearing on the map to threaten the funding regions and you deploying your aircraft and soldiers to defend them as best you can. The goal for our changes in Xenonauts-2 is to give the player more choices and make the strategy map feel more reactive to what the player is doing. These are the systems covered: Invasion Balance & Reactivity Liaison Offices (Scientist & Engineer Recruitment) Orbital Bombardment Alternate Ending Other Mechanics Invasion Balance / Reactivity: The strategy layer in Xenonauts had a few problems that would show up when the player was doing well. The optimal way to play the game was to gain interceptor cover across the entire planet as quickly as possible, and once you had sufficient numbers of interceptors (assuming you kept them appropriately upgraded) spread across the world the strategy layer ended up being rather simple - the UFOs would spawn and immediately get shot down. One of the problems this caused was that the player would ONLY encounter crash sites from the point they gained air superiority. Almost all alien activity in X1 was driven by the UFOs, so shooting them down shortly after they spawn stops them from even spawning terror sites, creating alien bases or attacking your bases. Clearly, this doesn't make for a very interesting player experience and it's something we've addressed in X2 - the creation of some terror sites and alien bases is now independent from UFOs, so achieving complete air superiority will not lock you out from ever seeing those missions (in the final game ideally about half of them will be spawned from UFOs and thus preventable). The other problem was that long stretches of the game could be kinda boring when you were doing well. You gained Relations with a region by shooting down UFOs, and shooting down the UFOs also prevented them from damaging Relations - so any region where you had strong air forces would quickly trend up to max relations / funding and just stay there for the whole game. We're tweaking the way Relations (now "Panic") works and adding more strategic pressure from the Orbital Bombardment mechanic (see below) to try and balance this out. Finally, we're trying to make the alien activity more closely related to the player's actions. For instance, the aggressive UFOs on Air Superiority missions that will attack any of your aircraft that they encounter now possess squadsight, so they if you approach any other UFO within a certain radius they will light up their afterburners and attempt to protect it. Alien base missions now spawn resupply missions like in the original X-Com, and we plan to make alien base attacks more likely to be targeted at bases that house your most active interceptors, etc. In conclusion, we're aiming to make the strategy layer more interesting through a number of subtle improvements and balance changes that should collectively make for a much more engaging experience. Liaison Offices (Scientist / Engineering Recruitment): One of the larger mechanical changes to the strategy layer is the addition of Liaison Offices, which add a degree of territory control the strategy layer. Conceptually the construction of a Liaison Office represents the Xenonauts setting up an embassy / local command center to co-ordinate with the local region, granting permanent bonuses to both your organisation and the local region. There's about 25 of these in pre-set locations on the map, with 4 to 5 in each of the six funding regions. Construction costs $200,000 and takes 10 days. On completion, funding in the local region will be permanently increased and local Panic will be lowered, and a number of Scientists and Engineers will be added to your recruitment pool. This is your only source of scientists and engineers, so players will need to expand across the world to grow their research / engineering efforts. Crucially, you need to protect these Liaison Offices once constructed, as alien Bombers will frequently target them and attempt to destroy them. If they succeed, you lose your investment and will suffer a significant panic increase in the local region. Building a bunch of Liaison Offices you then can't defend is an expensive and potentially terminal mistake! Orbital Bombardment: Within a couple of minutes of starting the game, you'll learn that the Chief Scientist has discovered an unknown orbital object designated UOO-1. A few days later you'll learn that it is not friendly. The alien space station hovering above Earth is in fact an alien superweapon that will destroy a major city from orbit every 10 days, causing a large Panic spike in the affected region. Although there's nothing you can do to stop this, if the player is progressing through the campaign at a reasonable rate the orbital bombardment mechanic will not affect the game very much. The repeated Panic increases are balanced out by the passive Panic reduction that you now gain from completing important research, and the bombardment will always hit the region with the lowest Panic (i.e. the one furthest from surrendering to the aliens). The purpose of this system is to quickly close out games where the player has fallen behind and would eventually lose anyway. Thematically, it is intended to make the invasion feel more dangerous - even if you have complete control over the skies of Earth, the aliens will still be slowly bombing humanity into submission. Naturally, you'll get your revenge on the space station at the end of the game! Alternate Ending: The core storyline of Xenonauts 2 is learning enough about the aliens to figure out how to stop the invasion and destroy the orbital superweapon. Following a fairly straightforward research chain and winning a couple of unique story missions (an alien facility assault and a unique UFO assault) will eventually unlock the final mission, allowing you to save humanity and win the game when you've got an appropriately experienced and equipped squad to carry it out. However, the game will also include a second (better) ending that any player interested in reading the research text and learning about the aliens will probably achieve. It's not exactly going to be a hidden ending but it will require a bit more effort to achieve; capturing high-ranking aliens and reading research text will be a necessity. The idea here is that players can engage with the game world / lore as much as they like. If people want to ignore the research text and just blow up some aliens, that's fine - they can happily complete the game without ever knowing where the aliens come from or what they're trying to achieve. But I've done quite a bit more work fleshing out the aliens and their society / empire this time around, and if players want to take the time required to delve into that information they'll be able to engineer a better outcome. Other Mechanics: Some other smaller mechanical changes that don't warrant a multi-paragraph explanation have also made it onto the Geoscape: Panic: each region now has a Panic score rather than a Relations score. This doesn't change much except countries are lost at 100 Panic, rather than being lost at 0 Relations. Static(ish) Funding: regions no longer increase their funding as your Relations with them improve. Instead, any region not lost to the aliens gives you a set amount of funding each month. This funding is reduced by 25% if Panic is above 50, and 50% if Panic is above 75. Geoscape Agents: these are a simple strategic resource that will reduce current Panic by 10% when assigned to a region. I think there's scope to expand this system in the future, but we'd likely only look at this at the end of development. Tech Proliferation: completing certain research projects will give a global Panic reduction and equip the local forces with the appropriate equipment after a certain amount of time has passed. For example, once you've researched Laser Rifles you'll get an immediate Panic reduction and will see the friendly AI forces in terror missions etc start to use them ~30 days later.
  9. Perfect, thanks. I'll take a look at that and see if I can figure out what's going on.
  10. Thanks. Did you unlock the research / engineering project that allows the unlocking of Laser Weapons V2 by any chance? Because the upgrade process basically deletes all the old laser weapons and their projects and then recreates new ones that give you the upgraded weapons instead, so maybe that's part of the issue?
  11. Oh yeah - there's meant to be goodies. But I'm not sure all the research etc that's meant to be unlocked is ready to go, so I'll fix that in the next big build rather than in this hotfix.
  12. Thanks. We've fixed a few bugs as a result of this - the MARS sell value, the MARS rocket launcher using absolute fire costs rather than % TU fire costs, and the aircraft items not unlocking correctly. One thing I'd like a bit more info on if possible is 4) about the disappearing laser rifles and shotguns. If you have any more info on when that occurs that'd be great. If not then it's not a big problem - I'm sure I'll encouter it when I start doing my balancing playthroughs, but it'd be good to have some idea where to look.
  13. If it's based on the blue psyons specifically I've probably screwed up the loadout or the corpse items dropped by that unit - but the logs suggest it's actually linked to the map (could be a false positive). But we'll look into it - hopefully that in-mission save will help us track it down if not. Thanks.
  14. Thanks. This stuff isn't working for me either, I guess we've somehow broken the upgrade logic. We'll get it fixed.
  15. Hi everyone - it's only been three weeks since my last update, but the plan is for me to do these updates here on the forums on a monthly basis now. That will then allow Paul to edit them into something a bit more appropriate for a wider audience (i.e. less detailed, more art) and post them everywhere else. Development Progress: Over the last three weeks we've been working on a whole bunch of different things. The biggest news was probably the release of Closed Beta V13 on our Experimental branch, which is our first new build in quite a while. Unsurprisingly the build was kinda buggy and has already had one hotfix, but we'll be releasing at least one more hotfix as there's still several more serious bugs that have been reported. However it's always good to have people testing the game and finding the problems. Personally I've spent a fair bit of my time on the writing. I've completed twenty three of the research reports over the past six weeks or so, and there's a number more that are half-finished or were written previously and just need a little updating to mesh with the new setting. I feel like I've already done most of the hard work in terms of creating an internally consistent setting for the game, and now I'm just slotting things into it - which means the writing is going faster than when I was having to think long and hard about how to answer all the "big questions" in a logical way. A couple of these projects are starting lore projects that are already unlocked in the Xenopedia at the start of the game, and don't pop-up on the Geoscape (explaining the updated Iceland Incident story, plus the details on why your starting interceptor is so much more effective against alien technology than other aircraft). Anyway, this has required a few simple code changes, and in the next month we're also planning to spend a bit more time on the Xenopedia in general. At the moment the UI styling is inconsistent and every project is just added into a big unsorted list, whereas it should be set up so that each project goes under a category heading that is expandable / collapsible. The other major area we've been targeting are the ground missions, but the progress here has been a bit slower. We're continuing to work on the new art style and hopefully soon we'll have the first set of maps built with these new tiles. I suspect most people will consider the new art a visual improvement, but even if not the new style is undeniably more restful on the eyes - it's much easier to see the important things on the battlefield (the aliens and the cover objects). For all of its faults, one of the strong points of the terrain art in X1 was that it was relatively clean and clear. Anyway, I'll probably be showing some of this new art off in the next update. We've also continued to work on the code for the ground combat. Getting the hull-hiding system for the UFOs working properly continues to be a pain, but it's mostly working now. The night missions are largely functional but need a couple of fixes and we still need to add minor details like the headlights to the vehicles, etc. If we have time we also want to spend some time looking into fixing a few of the rough edges in the ground comabt - the camera jerking around and not showing the action during the alien turn and the fact that units take a couple of seconds to play their death animation after suffering lethal damage are two things that spring to mind. Finally, we've been spending time on the preparations for mod support. Making something moddable requires us to save the data in editable text files rather than having it hardcoded in the game's code, and since our last update we've moved the base buildings out into text files. We're also in the process of moving all the unit loadouts, UFO crews and UFO missions into text files too. Once this is done pretty much everything in the game will (theoretically) editable by modders - but in practice, modding the files is going to be hard without a mod editor tool to help you. We've therefore also been chatting to Solver about community involvement in the mod tools, because the tools we use are embedded in Unity and aren't exactly user-friendly. Goldhawk is planning to do a bit of work to prepare the code interface so external coders are able to build tools that can easily read and write to these text data files (and eventually hook into our mod management system), and then we'll let the community coders have a look at it and see if they're able to build anything useful on those foundations. There's no guarantee that anything will come of this, but I think it's definitely an opportunity worth exploring! Early Access plans: We're still not ready to set a formal Early Access date but our plans are progressing. We've decided to target an "Early Access build" that is time-limited to only contain the first three months or so of the campaign, which in X1 terms will take you roughly up to Landing Ships. The "full" builds will be accessible on a seperate branch for anyone that wants to play the whole game, but the default build people encounter when they buy the Early Access for the game will be this time-limited build. The reason for this is that it's much easier to get the content in place the first third of the game than it is to do it for the whole game. For Early Access we want to give most players a quick taste of the game that makes them confident that they've bought a game that they will enjoy once released, but doesn't allow them to accidentally play into the sections of the game that contain missing content or have balance issues that might spoil the game for them (or even just to burn through all the content before the game is ready to properly play). Anyone that wants to test the full game can just switch branches, but they'll hopefully do so in the knowledge that they're going to experience much less polished content. I'll be announcing an Early Access date for the game once I've finished writing all the research reports that appear in this part of the game and also created three maps per biome for each of the UFOs / ground missions in that section of the game (these maps will need to include the new UFO style and support night missions). At that point, we'll announce a date 2-3 months in the future and frantically start polishing the game to make the Early Access build as enjoyable as possible. The big unknown is still the maps right now. We're going to need another couple of weeks for the new art to solidify before we can make a decision on how best to move forwards with them, unfortunately. Anyway, hopefully that wall of text gives you guys a fairly clear idea of what we're working on at the moment!
  16. The research mechanics in Xenonauts 2 are the primary method of storytelling in the game and also the avenue by which the player unlocks all the exciting new equipment they get to use in battle against the aliens. The tech tree in the original Xenonauts was adequate but took some criticism for being too straightforward, so we're hoping to add a bit more player choice in Xenonauts 2. The topics of discussion here are: Game Lore Research Structure & Equipment Tiers Modular Armour Game Lore: How interested you are in reading technobabble about your latest invention and discovering the story behind the aliens you're fighting is really down to personal preference, but I know a lot of people appreciated the fact that Xenonauts makes an effort to maintain an internally consistent universe and justify why the game works like it does. If you're one of these people, good news - this is something we're expanding on with Xenonauts 2. The research writing isn't yet finished, but we're planning to include more lore that the player can seek out if they want to read it - indeed, doing so is planned to unlock an alternate ending. I've tried to make the backstory of the aliens a little more interesting than before, made an effort to make fundamentally unrealistic tech sound a bit more plausible, and made the actual game storyline more complex than just capturing aliens of increasing seniority until the final mission gets unlocked. Hopefully people will enjoy it. I'm also conscious that I don't want to force this stuff onto people if they aren't interested, so you can also safely ignore it if you don't particularly care. Research Structure & Equipment Tiers: The research tree in X1 was fairly straightforward in the sense that it was mostly just unlocks of tech that were universal upgrades over what came before. This didn't really give the player much in the way of research choices - e.g. there was no reason to prioritise plot research over upgrading weapons or armour, and if unlocking plasma weapons requires you to have first unlocked laser weapons then there's no way to skip past tiers of technology to gain an advantage, etc. The first change is therefore to try to differentiate the different weapon tiers more than in the first game. Although more advanced weapons should still be better overall, there's still space to make them behave differently - e.g. the laser weapons could have recharging clips and be unusually accurate. Certain enemies may also have a resistance to either kinetic or energy weapons, encouraging the player to change out their loadouts if they know what type of enemy they are facing. This is a more interesting setup than the "more advanced weapons are always better in every situation" model we used in X1. Swapping out loadouts based on the enemies present is only possible if the player has access to the X2 equivalent of the Hyperwave Decoder, so in the current design the early plot research / missions unlock better radars and the Hyperwave Decoder. It's therefore possible to get these very early on if you prioritise them, but doing so obviously means you're not getting advanced weapons / armour / aircraft etc as early as you would otherwise. Another change is that there's no longer any research projects that auto-upgrade things (like the explosives projects did in X1) - these now unlock engineering projects that take time and resources to do this. In the current design there's also a "V2" upgrade for each of the weapon technologies that improves the stats of an older weapon tier, the idea being that people can either commit to the new weapons or run an upgrade project to try and keep their existing weapons relevant for longer. Overall, we're just trying to make a few sensible changes to the research structure to make it a bit more interesting. We'll only be able to see the full effects of these changes when the game is fully playable (most of them represent fairly fine balancing) so we're not completely sure yet that they are good changes, but I'm fairly confident they'll improve the game! Modular Armour: One of the biggest improvements to the equipment / research system in X2 is the addition of modular armour. In the first Xenonauts most armour tiers had two armour variants - for example, the Wolf armour was heavy and protective, and the Buzzard was a similar tech level but offered less protection and integrated a jetpack. In Xenonauts 2 all of this would be represented by a single suit of armour. Equipping a soldier with Wolf armour would offer them a certain amount of protection and give them access to a number of additional armour modules that can be independently activated, such as: Heavy Armour: this adds extra armour to the soldier, but increases the weight of the armour. Rebreather: this makes the soldier immune to gas damage, but slightly reduces their Accuracy. Tactical Visor: this gives the soldier an Accuracy boost, but reduces the protection offered by the armour. Jetpack: this allows the soldier to move vertically, but increases the weight of the armour. You can probably see how you can create an equivalent for the X1 Wolf and the X1 Buzzard using that system, but there's additional customisation options too. Maybe most of your soldiers want Heavy Armour, but only your close range shotgunners need a Rebreather. You probably want to give your snipers a Tactical Visor, but do they need a Jetpack as well? Individual modules can be unlocked or upgraded by research; e.g. the Heavy Armour can be upgraded to offer better protection via research, and the appearance of the Jetpack module could be tied to completion of a research and subsequent engineering project. Anyway, this system should make your soldiers more flexible than before, and I'm also very keen to see what modders can do with it once our mod tools are released!
  17. This is the first hotfix for Beta Build V13, fixing a few bugs including those to do with signal uplinks. You'll need to be on the Experimental Branch to access the build. Changelog: The game should no longer crash when a signal uplink mission / aerial terror site is failed. UFOs will no longer incorrectly attack every signal uplink mission you construct. Instead, a mission will periodically spawn that will attack one of your signal uplinks. Aircraft armour now functions correctly again. Fixed a crash if you threw a gas grenade into a region that already contained poisonous gas (i.e. anywhere in the Icelandic Outpost map). Autocomplete researches like autopsies and UFO datacores no longer force a pop-up aftwards that says "no new research unlocked". Added research autopsy text for the Wraith, Reaper, Psyon Engineer and Sebillian Brute. Psyon Engineers now don't spawn until the second UFO type, and Sebillian Brutes don't spawn until the third UFO type. Corpse items and their research triggers have been rationalised a bit; there's now only one corpse item for each size of Pyson on the strategy layer. Fixed an issue with the Orbital Bombardment research art being incorrectly sized for the window. Please let us know if you encounter any further issues with V13, as I suspect there are plenty more bugs in there - I've just made these fixes because they were preventing a lot of players from getting very far into the game!
  18. Thanks, we'll take a look at this and try to hotfix it!
  19. Hi everyone - I've been thinking about a new feature for a few days, and I realised I'd been assuming that the community would be very excited to have it in the game even though I'd never really asking anyone what they thought. So this thread is here to gauge opinion about whether people might actually want this sort of stuff implemented in the game! Item "Components" & Rare Drops: The idea here is simple - most manufactured items would require one or more "component" items as well as (reduced) Alloy / Alenium requirements. These components would be recoverable from the aliens but can also be manufactured using Alloys / Alenium. To give an example, a Laser Rifle or Laser Shotgun might require 3 Alloys and a Beam Accelerator. The Beam Accelerator could be built in the workshop for 10 Alloys and 5 Alenium, or it can be recovered from the battlefield - each alien plasma weapon recovered might have a 10% chance of awarding the player a functional Beam Accelerator. So you won't get many of them each mission. The player therefore gets a few "free" items of each tech level, but has to commit Alloys or Alenium if they want to fully equip their units with those items (Alloys and Alenium become the basic manufacturing resources that can be used to build anything). We would probably also add support for dismantling items, which would instantly destroy them and return the component (i.e. the Beam Accelerator) but not the basic resources. The component cannot be broken back down into the Alloys / Alenium. Why would this be interesting? To me it seems like this would make the Geoscape more interesting and allow us to add a bit more variety to the tech tree. For instance, if we assume the basic starting armour is the current Tactical Suit / Kevlar combo, we could add in the Warden Armour as a seperate item that is lighter than the Kevlar while offering more protection. This Warden Armour would require an alien resource called Nanothread, and you can use 1 Nanothread to build one Warden Armour - or you can use 4 Nanothread to upgrade your all your Warden Armour to be Warden Armour V2 that offers even more protection. You'll probably get a couple of Nanothread on most missions you go on, so you probably won't have passively accumulated enough Nanothread to equip everyone with Warden Armour V2 before you unlock the next tier of armour and can build the superior Wolf Armour instead ... but if you commit Alloys to building Nanothread in the workshop, those are Alloys you can't spend elsewhere. This makes your squad equipment a bit more varied, and you've got a few interesting decisions to make - do you give everyone the new armour, or just issue it to half the squad and then use the remaining Nanothread to make their armour even stronger? You've already got upgraded Warden Armour, so is it worth going all in on that and skipping the Wolf Armour entirely? etc You can also have some items that are powerful but don't really justify their construction cost in the tech tree, but can be built easily from rare drops - maybe a certain UFO has an extremely powerful laser cannon on it that does 25% more damage than a standard aircraft laser cannon, but would normally cost a ridiculous amount of Alenium to build. If you are lucky enough to recover that component from the UFO, it would only cost a few Alloys to build the special cannon and then you've got one aircraft with a practically unique weapon that can hit way harder than normal. Problems: The downside of this is the complexity. We'll have to upgrade the engineering project system so it can accept either / or costs (e.g. either a Beam Accelerator, or 10 Alloys and 5 Alenium) as otherwise I suspect having to manually manufacture every component before you build the "proper" item will be a real pain. Similarly, we'll need to implement the "dismantle" UI and functionality. It'll make the research tree more complex too. It's already hurting my brain to think about how complex the item trees are going to be when there's a V2 version of every item (particularly when you combine it with the light / heavy versions of each armour). The additional art requirements are also going to be tricky. But I guess that's for me to worry about. Anyway, what do you guys think? I think this is something that could make a huge difference to the overall gameplay given so much of the strategy layer is just a question of what you research next and what you assign your resources to, but it'd also be rather a lot of effort to go to if the idea doesn't appeal to the players much!
  20. The setting of Xenonauts-2 has needed to change a lot throughout development as the mechanics of the strategy layer have changed around it. The current setting of the game is explained below and forms the rules within which the game operates - as with the first game, we've made a big effort to ensure the game remains as internally consistent as possible! Alternate Timeline: Xenonauts 2 takes place in an alternate timeline to the original Xenonauts (and our own world). In the world of Xenonauts 2, alien interference in human politics ensured the Soviet Union never fell and the Cold War never ended. Start of Game: When you take control of the Xenonauts at the start of the game, the year is 2015 and the alien invasion is already underway. The extraterrestrials launched a wave of attacks on Earth a few days prior, causing only relatively minor damage but proving the various regional governments were completely unable to defend themselves against alien UFOs that were invisible to radar and equipped with devastating energy weapons. During hurried bilateral talks, the NATO and Soviet nations agreed that a single unified planetary defence organisation was required to co-ordinate humanity's war against the aliens (provided, of course, the other power was not in control of it). The obvious candidates were the Xenonauts, a long-forgetten extraterrestrial research organisation founded in secret decades earlier. This mysterious organisation had used an unarmed reconnaissance plane to conduct the only successful interception of a UFO during the first wave of attacks, gathering a wealth of data and sharing it with both superpowers. The Xenonauts are therefore formally appointed as the "first response" force against extraterrestrial attacks, with full jurisdiction to establish bases and operate military forces anywhere in the world. They are granted significant amounts of funding to expand their (initially limited) operations, and an esteemed military officer palatable to both superpowers is provided to take charge of the military dimension of the strategy (i.e. you). This is done on the understanding that the Xenonauts will share all research data with all participating nations. The Aliens: Little is known about the aliens at the start of the game, although persistent reports of extraterrestrial sightings have been circulating for decades and numerous suspicious instances of important politicians or generals abruptly changing long-held views to advocate military action against geopolitical rivals have occurred over the years. Once the invasion begins the aliens offer to spare any nation that surrenders unconditionally to them. At the start of the war, all major governments and civilian populations support the fight against the aliens - but if any region suffers too heavily at the hands of the aliens, they are likely to lose hope that victory can be achieved and surrender to the aliens. Iceland Incident: The Iceland Incident that led to formation of the Xenonauts was a political crisis that occurred in 1963. Officially, the discovery of a secret American missile base under construction in Iceland led the Soviet Union to mobilize an invasion force in an attempt to sieze the island before nuclear warheads could be deployed. A large-scale face-off between the American and Soviet navies almost led to a nuclear confrontation - but the situation was eventually deescalated when the Americans agreed to abandon the missile base and allow Soviet inspectors to verify the closure of the site. In reality, the confrontation was sparked when American engineers building a secret missile base in Iceland discovered fragments of an extraterrestrial spacecraft embedded in a nearby glacier. When the Soviet high command heard reports of this discovery, they assembled an invasion force - fearing that extraterrestrial technology might give their opponents a permanent advantage in any conflict. De-escalation occured when the Americans agreed to hand control of the artifacts to a jointly-established research organisation that would study the recovered technology and report to both sides. This organisation was known as the Xenonauts. The Xenonauts: In the end, less than half of the crashed UFO was ever recovered from the glacier and no sign of the extraterrestrials themselves was ever found. No major scientific discoveries were made as a result of the research work performed by the Xenonauts, and with no obvious signs of futher alien activity, the superpowers eventually lost interest. Undeterred, the Xenonauts continued to operate over the following decades (on ever-smaller funding) and developed several important pieces of technology that would prove invaluable in the coming invasion. The first of these was the inference radar; an extremely sensitive radar capable of tracking UFOs via the disturbances created by their energy shields as they moved through the air. The second was the X-24 Angel interceptor - a small reconaissance jet equipped with an small inference radar and designed from scratch specifically to resist alien weapons. When the invasion began, the Xenonauts were thus the only organisation capable of tracking UFOs and also possessed the only human aircraft that would not immediately disintegrate when hit by energy weapon fire. This proved enough for them to be put in overall command of the defence of Earth.
  21. Yeah, I broadly agree - although capturing a Sebillian alive so you can extract all its blood more efficiently is a bit dark :P That said there's only so many items that can be created. Adding a whole new screen where you can manage what happens to each alien individually and chop them up into different parts is a nice idea but I think is turning a relatively simple system into something much more complex, and really I'm not sure there's going to be THAT many different types of armour that the game can support. To be honest, it's probably already going to be a struggle to think up a useful item that can be extracted from every type of dead alien!
  22. Please send Xsolla customer support an email, as they should be the ones handling the migration - if they don't respond in a week, send me an email at the address in my signature below and I'll take a look.
  23. If it does, please post up the logs or a save so we can try to fix it!
  24. Chris

    [V13.0] Beta Aircrafts

    Thanks for these reports. We'll have a look into why the armour isn't working properly, as I'm also seeing those problems!
  25. Chris

    [V13.0] Double Air Encounter Crash

    Yeah a save would be useful - we have code in place to prevent this, but sometimes weird situations can get around it.
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