Chris

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  1. Happy new year everyone! Hope you all had a great Christmas / festive season! We've been back at work for roughly a week now, so it's time for a quick update on what we've been working on recently and will be working on in the near future. Development Status: The game is continuing to progress towards being feature complete. Our priority is to have a working skeleton of the game that you can play from start to finish, albeit with obvious gaps where there is missing content (missing aliens / research art and descriptions / not enough maps / etc). I've played a lot of "Early Access" games recently and that definitely seems to be the expectation these days - people need something they can properly play, even if there's missing content because there are only a few maps / a limited number of characters / etc. If you've not been following the project in much detail, here's where we currently are: the public builds show that the ground combat missions already have all of the fundamental mechanics in place. They're still a bit rough and there are a number of non-critical features that still need to be finished ... but in most cases you can have a nice little battle with the aliens without there being any game-breaking issues. The strategy layer has a Geoscape that spawns UFOs / ground missions, interceptors that can be used to shoot down those UFOs (with autoresolved air combat) to make crash sites, a base where you can build structures and house your staff and soldiers, a screen where you can hire new staff, base stores that log all the items recovered from battle, an armory screen where you can equip your soldiers, and a working research tree that unlocks new tech and awards items / pops up a research report when the research project is complete, etc. So lots is already working but it's definitely feels less "complete" than the ground combat. The join between the strategy layer and the ground combat is somewhat complete. It correctly loads the big things like the appropriate mission objective / map / aliens / Xenonauts / equipment loadouts when you start a ground mission, and we're also at the stage now where the models are correctly displaying the appropriate gender, ethnicity and hair colour to match the portrait. However, tracking of other important things (e.g. post-battle item recovery and soldier XP gain) is not yet functional. The TL;DR here is that we're close to having a skeleton of the entire game working that can be played from start to finish. Sure, it'll be missing a lot of content and non-essential features, but it would still mark a big milestone for the project and it's really not too far away. Design Update: The development process for Xenonauts-2 started with a lot of big ideas about how we could change all sorts of things in almost every area of the game, but over time the design has pulled back closer to original game. Generally we implement some cool new totally features that we're really excited about, but after a few months of experimentation we usually end up picking a few bits we like and then merging them back into the old Xenonauts 1 system instead. I think this works out pretty well. A good example of this is the "unique character" system we were talking about a few months ago, where every person you hire was a unique character who could fill any role in your organisation (as they had a competency score in everything from combat to research). I won't bore you with the reasons why that turned out to be less awesome than it sounded, but it did - so the result has been for us to move the design back towards having separate soldiers, scientists and engineers whilst retaining elements of the "unique character" system. Basically, your staff all have a competency score for their role and you can hire them based on "templates" that control their starting stats - e.g. soldiers have Riflemen or Snipers or Assault templates (likely available at different veterancy levels) etc, all of which have different starting stats or traits that make them better suited to that role. Similarly if you want to hire a scientist, you can choose a talented scientist who costs more but produces more science per turn vs. a cheaper one who is less competent. Essentially it's the Xenonauts 1 system of recruitment but expanded to allow you more strategic choices and more control over who you hire. Several other areas have expanded in a similar way, although for the sake of brevity I won't list them all here. Whilst certain things have been dropped and other things have been shifted around, in many ways the picture taking shape isn't dramatically different to the first Xenonauts. I suspect if some of the people who ragequit the forum during the idea discussion phase had stayed the course they would have been quite pleased to see the way the game is turning out; I think we're going to end up with the classic Xenonauts feel but with improved graphics, a more cohesive setting, more varied ground missions and a number of new / more complex Geoscape systems that will allow you a bit more freedom about how you approach the strategy side of things. I'm looking forward to showing some stuff off in the next few months when we finally launch our Kickstarter and then launch on Early Access. There's still quite a lot of development work left to do, but it's not long until the community can start pre-ordering and getting properly involved in the process. Lots to look forward to in 2018 then!
  2. It's not fixed because it's impossible to fix in Xenonauts 1, unfortunately - I agree that the font size we picked was too small but the UI was designed around having font that size, so once we realised the mistake we found there's just no room to make it bigger without breaking the UI. Don't worry - there's been enough complaints about it that it's something we're definitely bearing in mind for the sequel.
  3. Yeah, so for the sake of clarity here (no doubt I'll lay this out again in a proper post later) the first draft of the Geoscape contains all of the same mission types as the original Xenonauts, so: Crashed / Landed UFO site Terror site Alien base attack Xenonaut base defence In addition, we now have the following new mission types working in the game: Capture resources (a mission where you have to pick up a couple of specific items and get them back to the dropship, currently used to recover Alenium) VIP Assassination / Capture VIP Rescue We're not currently using the VIP missions but we can hopefully integrate them later, as they are already fully functional - I just don't know where they fit into the strategy layer yet. In terms of the setting, we still have the whole "secret war" thing going on but ultimately I can write the final setting around the mission types we choose to include. We're getting close to having it functioning so you might see something soon. I'm a little reluctant to show it off though because it looks quite similar to the first Xenonauts even if the mechanics are somewhat different ... mostly because we re-used some of the same art to save prototyping time and have yet to properly replace it. I'm open to tweaking the Alenium system once it's in the game, but for now I'm planning to keep it fairly simple so the effects are predictable and I can evaluate it in semi-isolation. Once we know how all the new systems all work together we can try expanding them out and developing them further.
  4. This is actually something we're looking into this time around, although it'd be a relatively simple system that allows you to make minor changes to each piece of gear if you want to - e.g. do you want to pick a close combat scope for your rifle, or a long range one? Do you want extra ceramic plates in your armour to make your soldier tougher at the cost of lowering his TU? Do you want a rebreather on your helmet at the cost of reduced vision range? That sorta thing, hopefully.
  5. Both those things sound like you're asking for proximity grenades ... in which case, yes, we're planning to put them in the game. The idea I'm currently quite excited about is giving the player access to more fun tools that semi-break the game, and then use Alenium to limit them. Essentially Alien Alloys are required to build most types of advanced tech, but certain powerful technology also requires Alenium to use. Each recovered Alenium cell is basically a mini-reactor and isn't consumed when used, but you're limited by the amount of Alenium you can recover from the aliens. For example, if a Laser Rifle uses one Alenium and you've got two Alenium in the base stores, you can only take two Laser Rifles on any mission. If you build Predator armour and that also requires one Alenium to use, you've got to drop at least one of the Laser Rifles if you want to use a Predator suit. There's also a less powerful variant of most things (e.g. Wolf armour) that doesn't require Alenium to use but lacks the potentially unbalanced features. This means you can do some cool stuff without totally unbalancing the game - which was my big worry in the first game when thinking about adding "cool" tech. Maybe one of the armours grants the wearer the ability to instantly teleport into any (squad-sight) visible tile once per battle. Pretty powerful, right? But is it more powerful than a personal shield generator? Or a motion detector? Or a laser rifle? You've only got limited Alenium so you can't have it all. This feeds into the research choices too - is it really worth spending time adding an extra charge to the teleporter pack, even though only two of your troops can use them at any given time? Would it be better to research improved Wolf Armour so everyone has a slightly better chance of surviving the next plasma bolt in the face? Of course, there's a risk that in a few months I might have shelved the idea entirely - but hopefully this gives an example of how I feel we can make the game quite different without actually *fundamentally* changing the rules like we would have to if we made all the characters unique.
  6. Oh, there'll be plenty of new stuff to play with too - it'll just be within the confines of a fairly familiar game rather than dramatically changing the mechanics
  7. It's definitely something we can consider. It's pretty easy to change between both ways of doing it, it's just a question of whether more players prefer to have the alien gear sold automatically or whether they'd like to do it themselves from the base stores at a later date!
  8. I think it's time for another update on our progress on Xenonauts-2 as I've been alluding to cool new stuff for several weeks now. I'm not going to show off any media yet, but I am going to fill you in on what we've been doing for the past couple of months and what our thinking currently is with Xenonauts-2. Setting: The key thing to know is this - both the aliens and the Xenonauts are trying to keep their existence secret. The aliens are VERY few in number and don't have the military power to destroy Earth, so are trying to start a nuclear war that will wipe out most of humanity first (using infiltrators and psionic powers to raise global tensions and suppress any evidence of their existence). The Xenonauts are even fewer in number and must keep stay in the shadows otherwise the aliens if the aliens are not to find them and wipe them out. Because the world governments have been partially infiltrated by aliens, the Xenonauts cannot work too closely with them or risk being discovered. Strategy Mechanics: Basically we've shifted the strategy layer away from just being a clone of Xenonauts 1 and we've drawn some additional inspiration from Jagged Alliance. Most of this is on the strategic side rather than the tactical combat (so don't expect us to add the prone stance etc in the combat), but it includes things like: The staff available for hire are no longer randomly generated; they're the same each game. There's currently 40 and they are priced differently depending on their skills. We expect the player to have 10-15 staff in total towards the end of the game. There's no distinction between soldiers / scientists / etc. Each person has a competency rating in Combat, Science, Technical and Communication and you can set any to do any role, and use any of them on the battlefield. The base functionality is now generated mostly by assigning staff to buildings - e.g. a lab doesn't produce science until you put someone in it, and it produces more science the better that person's Science rating is. The combat missions are flown (although not always fought) at night, so people can perform a task in-base during the day and then still fight a combat mission at night. However there is a fatigue system that stops you from pushing your staff too hard - they accumulate a lot very quickly if you don't let them sleep. You can't do every combat mission - the number of combat missions you can run is limited by the airworthiness of the dropship. If you want to run more missions you can assign engineers to help repair it faster, but obviously those staff could be doing other things instead. We've borrowed the "covert operations" from the XCOM 2 expansion, which are small non-playable missions with skill requirements that invite you to send one or two people away for X days in order to receive a reward (basically they force you to shuffle your assignments and combat teams regularly instead of always using the same guys in a given role). In short, we've zoomed the focus in a bit. The base is smaller but more detailed - e.g. the current mechanics tie the rate of staff stress regeneration to how comfortable the base is, so having enough living space and fresh food and a rec room lets them recover from missions faster. I'd like to make the stores management deeper if we can, too. Plenty of scope to do cool stuff here. To make the alien invasion more strategic, we've made things last longer on the Geoscape. The player is actively choosing from a multitude of missions which ones they think will best advance their strategic position, rather than in Xenonauts 1 when you were reacting to what the aliens did as soon as it happened. The aliens themselves are now persistent missions on the map; they slowly generate infiltration markers in the region they are in, reducing Xenonaut relations with that region and bringing the world closer to nuclear war. Launching a mission and killing that alien removes the infiltration markers, but it also levels up that race and makes all future missions more difficult against, say, the Sebillians. Kill enough of that race and they drop out of the war entirely. The other key strategy mechanic is Threat, which is a bit like the wanted level in Grand Theft Auto - it goes up when you attack the aliens, and declines over time. If reaches a certain level, the aliens launch an attack on your base. Not all combat missions generate threat, as not all involve fighting the aliens - there's plenty of missions available where you are stealing resources from local governments etc that you can do instead if your threat is too high. So base attack missions are still in the game, but you have direct control over when they will (or will not) happen. Ground Combat Mechanics: As a result of the setting shift, we want an alien to be something that the player should fear on the battlefield (not something a random dude with an M16 can deal with). So instead of a mission containing a dozen aliens, missions will now usually feature a single powerful and tough "boss" alien and a dozen weaker human bodyguards. This is thematically appropriate, but also the majority of the combatants being humans with weaker weapons mean your soldiers should suffer more serious wounds and fewer RNG instakills, which should improve the gameplay. If you're wondering how the Combat Rating feeds into combat stats, the idea is that it controls the Accuracy and Bravery of the soldier. HP, TU and Reflexes are now set by the armour equipped by the soldier, so lighter armour gives less HP but allows units to move faster and do more. Certain equipment will probably be gated by skills, too - so a first generation laser rifle might require a certain amount of Science to use it, or explosives might need a certain level of Technical, etc. I think that opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of battlefield equipment. Public Builds & Progress: Expect the public builds to restart in roughly a month, but don't expect the strategy to be included. We've been adding a lot more to the strategy layer than we originally expected (when we were just cloning X1), so whilst many of the features are already in place it's obviously going to take longer and need more testing. We will however be releasing more information, artwork and some UI screenshots in the near future. The public builds will be focusing on polishing up a single ground combat mission to be used in a Kickstarter. The action will be moving from the wilderness to a military base, with a new (non-box) UFO, better destructibility, and an extra layer of visual polish. I've taken over level design duties now so expect the new map to be more like the ones from Xenonauts 1 (more limited sight lines), and the improved map editor we've spent a long time working on means I can much more easily edit the existing map and generate new ones than before. In the slightly longer term I'd like to improve the ground combat AI, and also to try and implement a stealth system that is a cross between the one in XCOM2 and JA2. Basically this means the enemies don't turn hostile until they detect your forces, allowing you to scope out the map and the enemies before the fighting starts. We can potentially then add things like suppressed weapons to make the stealth phase more interesting, and hopefully set up the AI to react to detected events to allow diversions and so forth (e.g. if you set off a bomb elsewhere in the base then the aggressive forces will run in that direction, etc). That'll definitely take more than a few weeks though! Anyway, I'll report back with more concrete plans and show off some artwork in a few weeks, but I hope this post is enough to keep people abreast of our current progress and thinking. TL;DR - things are taking longer because we're adding some cool new stuff!
  9. This version of Xenonauts 2 is a free public test build, released free because it is still an early build and we don't yet think we can justify charging for it; full details on where to get the build can be found in this thread. This is a second hotfix for Build V0.15.0 which we released a week ago. It contains a few crash fixes, some usability fixes, and extra destructible assets. CHANGELOG: (Hopefully) fixed a crash linked to grenades. (Hopefully) fixed the issue where aliens were being spotted by your soldiers, but movement was not being correctly interrupted. Removed the "Friendly Turn", as there were no friendlies and it was slowing things down. Added some new damaged states for the various props inside the military base. Explosion sprites are now correctly aligned with the camera. Trees should appear correctly in the map - they were just invisible before! The starting squad now have names rather than callsigns. Please post up any issues you experience or any other comments in this thread. This is going to be our last build for the year, as two of the coders have now departed for their holidays and the rest of us will be drifting off over the next week and a half. We'll all be hard back at work on 2nd January - I hope everyone has a wonderful festive season and we'll bring you some new content in the new year!
  10. Thanks for the feedback Thixotrop!
  11. Thanks for the comments, guys. We'll log it all to be fixed for the 2018 builds.
  12. This version of Xenonauts 2 is a free public test build, released free because it is still an early build and we don't yet think we can justify charging for it; full details on where to get the build can be found in this thread. This is a hotfix for Build V0.15.0 which we released yesterday. The primary fix is for a crash that sometimes happened when your soldiers take damage, but we've also included quite a few smaller changes as a result of the bug reports and gameplay testing. CHANGELOG: Fixed a crash that could occur when Xenonauts took damage. We've stripped all the armour from all the combatants, as it was confusing the damage calculation (this means shotguns should actually be useful now). Fixed an issue where the Psyon Officers (the red ones) had too little HP. Female soldiers no longer make male injury / death noises. Lights should no longer be showing through the shroud. Updated the "Alien Turn" etc UI notifications to have a slightly off-black background so they can be seen against the shroud. Fixed the rifle having a higher fire cost for normal shots than aimed shots. Fixed a visual bug where the climbable vines on the cliffs were invisible in the build. Fixed a visual bug where parts of the clifftop ground was being incorrectly hidden by our "roof hide" shader. Minor visual updates to the dropship interior and the alien building interior. Please let us know if you find any further issues. We have a build scheduled for Tuesday 12th December, but this hotfix contains all of our currently pending fixes so unless there's more bug reports we probably won't have much to put in it!
  13. As you can see, Goldhawk has got some new slick new forums! I'm pretty pleased with the way it's turned out, but let me first start by explaining what it means to you: All existing users and posts have been migrated over (as far as we're aware), so you should still be able to log in with your old username etc Features in the old forum that were broken should now work properly, e.g. requesting password reminders, search functionality, etc We've not yet had time to test all the forum functionality (and I've also hacked up the forum skin a little too) so there may well be errors with this new forum that we're not yet aware of. Please take this opportunity to try as hard as you can to break the forums, and also post here if you notice any obvious styling issues that you think should be fixed. It would be good to fix up any serious issues before these forums start getting more popular again! For those of you interested in what's happened, we've migrated the forums from the old vBulletin 4 system to a new IPS board. The visual styling is much nicer, the admin backend is much easier to use, and I'm hoping the overall user experience of these forums will be vastly improved over the previous ones. Once again, our thanks go out to Solver for donating his time to make the migration possible. Some Xenonauts 2 boards may start making an appearance in due course, as it'd be good to get some community feedback before we make our "official" announcement of the game (but more on that soon).
  14. Late January or early February next year, I'd have thought
  15. I think it's time for another update on Xenonauts 2. Lots to say but I'm going to try and keep it short, as things are moving quite fast at the moment. Where are we right now? We have a playable ground combat mission We have a playable version of the new strategy layer We have a working level editor which we have used to build the level for the ground combat mission. The strategy layer and ground combat are not linked together, and all three elements still need lots more work before they're a finished game This week we hit our internal milestone to have both parts of the game playable, and we've got both the ground combat and strategy layer working outside Unity as standalone executable builds. This is pretty big news for us, but for the sake of brevity I won't go into exactly why (basically the game logic and properties are not tied directly into Unity, which gives us some advantages but means we needed to do extra work getting the standalone builds working). Playable does not include ALL the mechanics, just the core ones - the ground combat contains basics like walls and prop objects, time units, line of sight, shooting, cover, destructibility, basic AI, overwatch, etc. The strategy layer has working research, alien / UFO generation, item recovery, air combat and ground combat autoresolve, soldier leveling, etc. As an example of a missing feature, soldiers don't currently have inventories - you just pick their current weapon from a list of all those that exist in the game. It's therefore definitely a playable game, but there's still a lot missing. The question we're asking ourselves now is "do we want to show the game off yet?" and so far the answer is "no". This is why we've not announced the game, even though we're putting in place all the pieces that will let us do so as soon as it becomes a "yes" - for example, upgrading these forums etc. The main reason for this is that we've been concentrating on functionality rather than aesthetics recently, and now we have standalone builds functioning I expect us to make significant progress in terms of visuals, game balance and usability in the next few months. Please don't take this to mean that there will be an attractive and mostly finished game appearing in a month or two, but I honestly do think the extra time will dramatically change the reception to the game when we announce / confirm / whatever it. What needs to change before full announcement? The announcement of Phoenix Point by Julian Gollop (the creator of the original X-Com) demonstrated to us that a few nicely-chosen pieces of promotional art can be very effective. Historically we've taken the reverse approach where we get the game functioning first and start implementing the art when we have a better idea of the parameters it has to exist inside, but we've decided that spending a bit of money now should reap rewards. The two specific areas we're waiting on are the 3D character art and the UI art. We've got a production-quality Xenonaut soldier being modeled up at the moment, which we can use for promotional showbox renders and also to replace the more primitive Xenonaut we're currently using in the ground combat. On the UI front I realised it's going to be important to have some screens to show off that will show customers the visual style we're aiming for, even if the actual game doesn't look that way yet. The UI artist currently working on the "look and feel" pieces has recently worked on Destiny, and if he can nail the "military command-centre" vibe then it'll really help the game stand out. I'm also writing a series of long forum posts on a (currently) hidden sub-forum that explain a bunch of new mechanics or discuss design decisions made on Xenonauts 2, and I'll make that visible when we're good to announce. It's quite detailed and involved stuff, but historically the forum has liked that sort of discussion. If I've not been replying to posts on design suggestions or sounding grumpy when I do, it's probably because I'd just spent a couple of hours writing a post on that exact issue but I'm not able to show it to you yet What happens after the full announcement? Other than the fact we'll open the Xenonauts 2 Design sub-forum mentioned above, we'll most likely also make an early version of the strategy part of the game available free. I'm internally referring to this period as the Free Alpha and the purpose of it is to create as large a community around the game as possible prior to the Kickstarter that will follow it (which will be the first time you'll be able to buy the game). I've chosen the strategy for this free release because it's much faster to iterate than the ground combat. It also gives a better representation of the "feel" of the game (more opportunities for lore / worldbuilding text), and you can play through a whole strategic game by autoresolving the ground combat. At the same time, it should still give people plenty to look forward to - it'll obviously be a dramatically different experience once the real ground combat is added in, which will only happen in the paid version of the game post-Kickstarter. I don't know exactly when the announcement will come, but I'm looking forward to sharing the strategy layer with you all. I'm sure the design will improve dramatically when there are hundreds of people contributing ideas to it instead of just a few of us - and I hope the experience of seeing the game change and evolve through player feedback will convince people to support the Kickstarter! (Looks like I failed to keep it short!)
  16. Thanks for the report, Spad. We'll see if we can find and fix that grenade crash. Yes, you're right about the map edges. They are meant to be hidden by the fog of war ... but now the fog of war is itself hidden by default, so I can see why that is confusing. We'll need to find a new way of marking those tiles as impassable I think!
  17. We were toying with something like this internally over the past few months, but there are problems. Other posters have mentioned them already but the main two are: It's pretty fiddly to allow the player to manually target specific areas, so the system needs to add a lot of gameplay to be worthwhile. It's rarely actually an interesting choice - you generally want a headshot if your soldier is accurate enough to reliably hit them, or a torso shot if they're not. There is potentially something to be said for a randomised location damage roll, where each shot has a set chance to hit the body / head / limbs etc, because it does allow you to have armour that covers specific areas of the body and also allows you to add perks etc that boost the chance of hitting a headshot. Ultimately though if the player can't choose where the shot is aimed then some of the potential value is lost - if you hit three shots on a Sebillian's legs and destroy all his armour there, it'd be annoying if your super-skilled-up sniper with all the +headshot perks then has a 0% chance of hitting the legs. That is mitigated a little if you use an even simpler system with locational damage split between just head / body, because the damage multiplier on a headshot can be high enough that a headshot is *always* better, even against intact armour ... but then what you have is a fairly simple critical hit system dressed up in different clothing (although that's not necessarily a bad thing). It would certainly be another tool to allow us to differentiate between the different types of Xenonaut weapons, e.g. between rifles and sniper rifles.
  18. So one of the biggest problems with this sort of penetration system is how the accuracy information is displayed to the player, and I know this because for a long time in Xenonauts 1 we had "hypervelocity" weapons (largely MAG weapons) that could shoot through walls. The calculation we used was somewhat different to what is suggested above but had a similar effect. The crux of the issue was that each object needed a fixed amount of damage to shoot through, and weapons do a randomised amount of damage (a rifle that does 40 damage could do anything from 20 to 60 damage per shot). If it takes 50 damage to punch through a wall and hit the target behind, you've only got a 25% chance of penetrating the wall based on those numbers. But if you're trying to shoot through multiple objects the calculation becomes extremely complex, extremely quickly ... and it's only one part of the "hit chance" calculation, because you've got to worry about all the accuracy modifiers too. So it's not that hard to write code allowing weapons to punch through walls but it is really quite hard to display that information to the player in a way that they can easily understand it. Hypervelocity weapons ended up being so confusing that we just disabled that property in the final game (although I think it's easy enough to turn back on in the weapon stat files if people want to play with it).
  19. So, as mentioned above, most of this is just ideas at this point - exactly how it works is always changing, as small changes to the way things fit together have massive effects on how the strategy layer and setting work. One of the things I've potentially changed my mind on since the initial post is the whole "how do you account for casualties" thing ... because if you have unique characters, you need to ensure the player has enough of them to replace at least a few of their losses. That therefore means you need quite a few people who are essentially duplicates of one another with only very minor changes, which bloats the roster. And if you have a bloated roster then you're trying to display 40 faces on screen at the same time and the interface becomes harder to read and you can display less useful information about each person. Perhaps a better approach would just be to offer the player a number of different archetypes to hire. The most basic form of this is just to have maybe 10 "classes" of person you can hire as many of as you want, who have different starting stats / traits. For example a Sniper has a higher accuracy and is more proficient with rifles and sniper rifles, whereas the generic Infantry guy is an all-rounder proficient with rifles and medikits, and the Assault guy has more TU and proficiency with rifles and shotguns, or whatever. This isn't a set class like in XCOM as all those people can then learn or be trained in all the skills available to everyone else, it just gives you a bit more choice about who you hire ... and you could expand it by making available better starting soldiers etc for a higher price, etc. The other potential route you could take is have a certain number of available slots. For instance, there's 20 different soldiers you can hire, and one of them is a sniper called Scope with a particular set of traits. If Scope (or anyone else) is killed then after a few days you can hire a replacement, who has a different face but is still called Scope and has identical starting stats to the original. However, you can never have two Scopes at the same time. Basically the idea here is that "Scope" is a role rather than a specific person; it's like in the Bond movies there is always a "Q" and an "M" who have a particular job even if the people themselves change. I like the second idea thematically but it'd probably be a bit annoying in practice. You'd be limited to having only one sniper (unless I add more and get the "roster bloat" problem mentioned above), but if he's killed then you can hire a replacement in a few days ... so why can you only have one sniper? I suspect the first idea would work better in practice. The other problem I'm yet to fully solve is how you can properly make multi-class people useful. Soldiers are only rarely out on a mission, and they don't do much except train in the meantime. But if a soldier / scientist spends his days in the labs, how does he have time to train? And if he can't train at the same speed as a normal soldier, he's going to be a sub-optimal choice. Squaring that circle is proving a little difficult. I've got a few more ideas, but have to see how it all develops.
  20. We'll look into those crashes then, sounds like that needs a hotfix. If they are as common as they sound then we should be able to reproduce them fairly easily at this end, particularly with the error reporting data coming in. Fabevil, thanks for the feedback, there's a few things in there I can easily fix for the next update ... but perhaps limit yourself to one or two posts instead of seven next time
  21. This version of Xenonauts 2 is a free public test build, released free because it is still an early build and we don't yet think we can justify charging for it; full details on where to get the build can be found in this thread. This is the first public build for slightly over four months. We had a decision to make about whether to release a somewhat rough build today or delay a week and release a much more polished build, and we decided to just release the rough build so you guys could give your thoughts help us find all the problems. We've spent the last four months running and playing the game in the Unity editor rather than in the built version of the game, so we discovered a week ago that our builds were pretty much entirely broken due to a bunch of bugs that do not appear when the game runs in the Editor. We've squished most of the ones we know about, but we'll need your help finding the rest of them! We're expecting to release an updated build in one week, on Tuesday 12th December, because a bunch of our changes didn't make the build deadline and the fact we didn't have much time to playtest suggests that you guys are going to find plenty of issues CHANGELOG: New Logo & Icon - I got an actual artist to do some work on our branding, and he's done a much better job than I ever could. I've emailed GOG to ask for assistance on how to get the desktop icon appearing correctly, but you can see what ours looks like in the game directory executable itself. Main Menu & Loading Screen - as above, we've updated the visual style of the main menu and the loading screen to look a bit more professional. New Map & Tileset - we've rewritten the map editor and started creating new tilesets, so the build now contains a single new map in our new Military Base tileset. Hopefully the addition of buildings makes it feels a bit more like the old Xenonauts! AI Spawn Control - like in X1, we can now control where different types of enemy spawn; e.g. alien command units can be set to spawn within certain buildings and not sprint out and fight you like they did before New Cliffs - we've changed the way cliff edges work, so they're no longer made up of "walls" but instead fill a full tile ... which means they have more depth and look nicer (they're technically now props). Let us know if they act weirdly as a result. Destructibility - support for better destructibility is in the game now, although only a few assets have it right now (give us a couple of weeks to add more). Try shooting the wire fences with the grenade launcher to see some in-progress destruction effects. Climbing - you can climb on top of cliffs on special "ladder" cliffs. Use the mousewheel to move the tile selection UI up a level and then you can path up there as normal. Dropship - the Xenonauts now arrive to battle in a (experimental) helicopter. Needs a bit more texture work on the interior but it's a nice addition. Soldier Portraits - your soldiers are no longer eight identical clones, but eight real characters from the strategy layer! This is less amazing than it sounds though, because they've all got identical stats just like before ... but the code for loading soldiers from the strategy layer actually does work now. Soldier Gender & Ethnicity - the gender and skin colour of a soldier model now matches their portrait, which makes them easier to tell apart. Hopefully in the next build the hair colour will also match their portrait. Armour TU / HP Modfiers - armour now modifies the TU and HP of the soldier wearing it. At the moment light armour grants +10 TU and heavy armour grants +20 HP (as well as 20 Armour). Static Shot Costs - because armour now modifies TU totals, weapon shot costs for the different fire modes are now static costs rather than a % of max TU. Debrief Screen Removed - the code for the mission-end debrief screen has been moved to the strategy layer, so it's no longer in the public build. Not much we can do about that, unfortunately! There's probably a load of additional stuff I've forgotten to mention in the changelog, so just give the game a play and see what you think. A few things to mention on the negative side too: Performance in the builds is still likely to be poor, because these are still "development" builds that allow you to send our error-reporting tool reports that tell us the specific line where bugs and crashes occur. Normal Unity builds have the code all smashed together, which runs much faster but doesn't allow us to pinpoint where problems are occurring. The performance of the game will be much better when we disable these "development" builds. We know the grass etc is drawing over the move path; this is because we've temporarily had to move across to deferred lighting mode and the relevant UI shader only works with forward lighting. It'll be working again soon. We know the AI is still pretty stupid. We needed the updated map editor with all the spawn meta data to be finished before we could even start work on it, and that only arrived relatively recently. It's one of our medium-term priorities so we'll likely start working on it properly in the new year. Feel free to give the game a play and let us know what you think of the changes, and report any issues that you might be experiencing so we can fix them up for next week!
  22. We're not sure exactly what form the interceptor / UFO air combat will take in Xenonauts-2 yet, mostly because the "air war" in Xenonauts 1 was the biggest single factor in whether you succeeded on the strategy layer or not ... whereas really the game should revolve around the ground combat. As such, the air combat needs to be made less important in the sequel. How exactly that manifests is not yet know. I've gone through some iterations of the design where interceptors are removed entirely (and the functionality moved elsewhere), and others where they operate quite similarly to in X1. My current thinking is that the system is likely to be like in X1 with interceptors and airbases but many of the ground missions are not spawned by UFOs, preventing the player from shutting down the alien invasion with a wall of interceptors. As to the actual air combat - at the moment it all works via autoresolve, and I'll worry about the specific mechanics of the player-controlled combat mode once the strategy layer is nailed down. If we do have a minigame then it's unlikely to be much like the one in the original game, and more likely to be something turn-based or just involving giving your aircraft a "stance" or set of orders before battle. Basically, something more strategy-ish rather than arcadey like it was in X1.
  23. With the Christmas period only six weeks away, I thought I'd take a moment to tell everyone what exactly we're working on at the moment. The short version of it could be summed up as: we're connecting everything together, and things now work ... but are also clearly broken. What? Things work... but they're also broken? Let's start by talking about exactly what "connecting up" is - essentially it means we're now joining up all the information on the strategy layer and the ground combat layer. On the strategy layer you can hire your unique soldiers and put them to work in the base or send them out on missions, and if you send them out on a mission then we need to create a battlefield map with all the parameters sent from the strategy layer. That includes the type of mission (UFO crash site, VIP rescue, etc), the type of biome and sub-biome (arid wilderness, temperate farm, desert military base etc), the number of Xenonauts involved and their stats and equipment, the number and type of aliens, etc. The good news is that this all now works in the sense that data is correctly passed from the strategy layer to the ground combat, then results are passed back up to the strategy layer again once the mission is complete. However, making the gameplay correctly reflect all this information is an ongoing process that be going on for a long time. We're making a lot of progress fixing up the obvious issues, but whilst the code is indeed working the gameplay just isn't there yet. Anyone who played Xenonauts 1 more than six months before it was released will know very well what we mean when we say that! Can you give a bit more detail on where exactly you are and why this is so hard? The key issue here is the the missions in Xenonauts require a long list of design work, art assets and code in order to play like a game should play, and if any one is missing then the whole thing looks totally broken. I'll take the example of us implementing the VIP rescue mission which we put in the game a few weeks ago, because that both clearly works but is also obviously broken. These are the (simplified) steps required to get it working: Have a functioning Geoscape where missions can spawn Have the ability to hire and equip soldiers on the strategy layer Write the spawn logic on the strategy layer for when the opportunity for a VIP Rescue mission appears on the Geoscape Write the intended alien units that you should be fighting on the mission (these should change and get harder as the game goes on) Write code that defines the victory / loss conditions for this specific type of mission and implements anything new (e.g. you fail if the VIP is killed, you win if the VIP is evacuated even if everyone else dies) Have a level editor that can create a level for the game Implement VIP spawn regions and evac regions in the level editor and ground combat code Have a tileset with enough models that levels can look good Create a level for the mission with the appropriate layout, meta regions and visual attractiveness Create art assets for all the required aliens Create art assets for the VIP Set up combat stats / equipment for all these aliens Set up combat stats / equipment for the VIP Make sure this equipment also has the required stats and art assets Ensure you have the appropriate variety of maps to cater for all the different places this mission can occur Write the code that pulls this together and loads the appropriate map, mission type, aliens, equipment and Xenonauts when you fire up the mission Ensure the aliens have the correct AI behaviors to deal with the mission objectives (e.g. they will aggressively attack you and try and kill the VIP) Pass the results information back to the strategy layer and ensure the strategy layer acts on it (killing your dead soldiers, crediting you with a new unit if you rescued the VIP, etc) Something that sounds relatively simple - "adding VIP rescue missions" - therefore actually requires a huge amount of work across many different areas of the project if you want it to have an acceptable level of gameplay. And even when you've done all this, there's still plenty more to do ... for instance, the VIP currently doesn't get a little quick-selection minitab in the UI when you get control of him, and he doesn't start sharing his vision cone with your team until you select him for the first time. Those are pretty major bugs that clearly need to be fixed. And even when you've got the obvious bugs fixed, all you've done is created a mission that the player can play. Then the long and difficult process of balancing starts. Is the VIP too close to the spawn area, or too far away? Are the enemies too tough for this stage of the game? Is the map too open, making the VIP too hard to protect against alien snipers? Are shotguns too good? Does that alien have too much HP bloat? I'm sure you get the picture. The point of this update is to illustrate that the "fun" part of game development that everyone wants to help out with is the balancing and polishing stage, which happens right at the end of development. That's when you get to look at the game and say "hey, I've got this one great idea that'll make it much better!" and I find myself writing 1000-word forum posts about tiny details like why ballistic rifles need to have slightly higher armour penetration than they already do. I love that part of game development and we're getting steadily closer to it. We've nearly finished the box that sits around the game that we all want to play, and soon we'll be properly working on the game itself. The level editor and level creation process in general has sucked away a lot of this time, but we've now got pretty much all the functionality we had in the X1 level editor and therefore should be able to produce missions with the same complexity as the first game. Then we'll start pushing beyond it. We've got a few more things to fix up before we can put anything out, but what I'm currently planning for is to re-introduce the ground combat builds in the near future with the new ground mission types in them (currently we're working on UFO Crash Site, Alien Base Attack, Capture Supplies, VIP Rescue, VIP Elimination, Xenonaut Base Defence and they're all mostly working). Hopefully that gives a bit more insight into what we're doing right now, and why we've been quiet - although you'll get to see it for yourself soon enough!
  24. Just a quick note to say that we thought we should bring back the public builds to show off some of our recent progress and to give people a little something to play over Christmas! Our internal target is to put out a new public build on Tuesday 5th December (i.e. one week from today), but that's dependent on the next week of fixes going smoothly - failing that we'll push things back and release one week later on Tuesday 12th December. So even if we don't hit our internal target you won't have too long to wait until you've got something to play! What's going to be in the build? It's going to be another ground combat mission, this time in a large military base. We'll rotate through different types of missions as the builds continue, so the build after will probably be a crash site mission showing off one of our new UFOs in our remastered farm tileset. Even though a lot of the recent work has gone on "invisible" things, there's still been a number of visual improvements to the game over the past four months so I hope you guys will be impressed. The idea is that we will polish one or two of these missions up to the point we can use them as a Kickstarter demo for the game, so we'll be interested in hearing your feedback on what we've currently got and what we should prioritise to improve the demo as much as possible in a relatively short time. (The strategy layer will not be included in the public build ... or at least not yet. Parts of it work quite well and other parts work less well, and I'm uncomfortable showing it off in that state because I worry people will leap to conclusions based on what is not yet working / implemented yet. But maybe we'll show a video or something soon.)
  25. The farmers in X1 were actually alarmingly effective at killing aliens