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Chris

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Everything posted by Chris

  1. This update will cover what we've been working on in the last two months, and our plans for our Kickstarter - which is provisionally expected to happen on 4th May. Our plans for the Kickstarter are summarized in brief at the bottom of this article but there'll be a proper announcement and full details of what we're planning in the near future. The most visible thing we've produced in the past two months has been the new map in the public builds, which I consider a significant step up in visual quality from what we had before. Our plan is to use that map in our Kickstarter public build demo and we've been iterating and refining it with the subsequent releases - it's now on its third incarnation and we've got another couple of builds before the Kickstarter date for us to make more progress. If you're reading this and haven't yet played the new map, it'd be great if you could give it a try and then give us some feedback on the experience because we're hoping a lot of people will play the build during the Kickstarter and we want to make as good an impression as possible! Less visible but no less important has been our work on the strategy layer. I think we've now pretty much reached the point where Xenonauts-2 is playable as a game (at least in the early stages of the invasion). Obviously the functionality and visuals are still very rough in certain areas and we've got a lot more work to do before we can call it a finished product, but about a month ago I finally had the lightbulb moment where I realized that I was actually playing the game and making decisions and having fun. It's not a good game yet, but it's definitely a game, and I consider that a pretty big milestone. We've also made enough progress with the level editor and game tiles that we've nailed down the all the different combat map biomes we're going to support and which mission types each will be used for. We've also started blocking out one or two example maps in each biome to give us a better idea of what art assets we'll need by the end of the project, so I've been doing a lot of map design recently. Some of these maps look quite polished whilst other ones still look pretty primitive, but having a "proper" map to play for each mission makes properly testing the game much more efficient even if the maps repeat quickly and some of them don't look great. The mission types we settled on are: UFO Crash Site: these take place in wilderness areas with only a few buildings, and are good for getting research artifacts and Alloys Abduction Missions: these take place in isolated inhabited areas with densely packed buildings such as farms / polar outposts / dockyards etc, and allow you to capture Alenium DEFCON / VIP Elimination: a new mission type against human opponents where you have to capture / kill a VIP in order to lower global tensions, but you suffer relations penalties in the region based on how many people you kill (stunning them is fine). These take place in either a NATO or Soviet military base. Terror Attack: very similar to X1, still takes place in either a NATO or Soviet town Alien Base Attack: as in X1 Xenonaut Base Defence: broadly the same as in X1 (although there's a few differences that aren't worth explaining until everyone understands how the new Geoscape works!) As you can see all the familiar faces from X1 have returned, with the "standard" missions split out into the fairly open Crash Sites and much denser Abduction missions that have slightly different strategic goals (Alloys are good for mass-producing weaker advanced tech, whereas Alenium is used to "power-up" individual items) and the addition of the DEFCON mission to spice things up a bit. The biomes we settled on are: Polar / Research Outpost Boreal / Logging Camp Temperate / Farm Tropical / Dockyard Arid / Village Desert / Junkyard NATO Town / Military Base Soviet Town / Military Base Alien Base Xenonaut Base There's not a 1-to-1 mapping versus what we had in the first game (e.g. the Farm was its own tileset and the military base was part of the Desert tileset in X1), I think we'll have quite a lot more map than X1 variety once the game is finished. We've produced quite a lot of assets since the start of the project and we're still in the process of sorting and retouching the older stuff as we set up each new biome, but I think things are coming together nicely. Finally, the Kickstarter - as mentioned at the top of the post we're planning to launch this on Friday 4th May (although as always this may slip a little). This will be your first chance to buy the game and the full game including the strategy layer will be available to play at the end of the Kickstarter, assuming you've backed at the appropriate tier. I'm working on the Kickstarter page and the reward structure at the moment and I'll hopefully post that up for general comment in the next couple of weeks as it's always useful to have community feedback on that sort of thing. A few key things to mention: We're not planning any physical rewards because unfortunately we don't actually make any profit from them and organising the production / shipping is very time consuming, and I'd rather spend that time polishing the game instead $25 gets you a copy of Xenonauts-2 on Steam / GOG when we launch into Early Access (planned for three months after the end of the Kickstarter) $35 also gives you access to the closed beta which will start immediately after the end of the Kickstarter (this is limited to 2000 backers) The higher reward tiers get you closed beta access plus an additional key of X2, a custom soldier with a portrait from our portrait editor, and eventually a unique portrait painted from a photo of you by our portrait artist I'll hopefully be posting up a version of the custom portrait editor for people to play with and give us feedback on in our Kickstarter discussion thread, which I'll probably put up next week. The $35 reward tier exists because the game is going to be rather rough in the closed beta period, so we want to limit it to the people who are most interested in the project and prepared to give us useful feedback. What I want to avoid is too many people seeing the game in its worst form and having lots of people bounce off it; I expect us to make a LOT of progress in three months in terms of gameplay balance and visual polish and usability. Personally I don't think asking the average backer to wait three months after the end of the Kickstarter is unreasonable, but I also know that many people have a strong reaction to being asked to pay extra to get the earliest access to a game (although I feel it's become the norm these days). I'm curious as to how people feel about that sort of thing - does anyone have any thoughts on that that they would like to share?
  2. This version of Xenonauts 2 is a free public test build only available on GOG Galaxy, 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. We're expecting a shorter build cycle of one week this time, on Tuesday 1st May. This build is another iteration of the free public build we are planning to release for our Kickstarter. There's been a number of fixes since last week to try and polish the experience up, but we're starting to run low on time and I'm not sure if there will be any further builds beyond the next one - that said, the intention of this public demo is not to produce a "final" and completely bug-free version of the game but to simply illustrate that we've got something playable when we ask for cash on Kickstarter. More details about the Kickstarter at the end of this post, but if you're at all interested in following that or hearing about the development of the project, please sign up for our mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/4FKe9 CHANGELOG: Alien Aggressiveness: we've finished the job of separating out the alien spawn zones from their AI scripts, fixing the issue where all the aliens were defaulting to an Aggressive AI script and charging en-masse towards you at the start of the mission. The scripts are still pretty basic but you should be able to explore the maps a bit further now! Roof Shooting Camera: we've tweaked the game camera so if you have a unit on a higher level (e.g. a roof) shooting down at a unit on a lower level, the camera will now temporarily move upwards to show the shooter while they are playing their shoot animation. Shooting Mechanics: The black metal fences that surround the base now have a 10% blocking chance rather than a 30% blocking chance, so they interfere with shooting much less than before. Open doors now have the same permissive firing angles as windows were recently given, which means they are much easier to shoot through than before. Destruction: Improved the slowdown that was occurring when the player opened a door or an explosion occurred. Walls now leave behind destroyed "frills" on the ground when destroyed rather than entirely disappearing. Grenade launcher had a bug where it applied far too much damage to terrain; this has now been fixed - although in the future we might add the functionality back in, just not via a bug! Movement Interrupt: We can't easily support re-pathing a moving soldier right now, but if you double-click on a new tile when a soldier is in motion is now interrupts their movement (same as if you'd pressed spacebar). Floodlight Tops: The floodlights dotted around the edges of the base are now correctly hidden by the shroud - the tops were previously always revealed because the map was not set to be vertically tall enough to hide them in the shroud Balance Changes: Soldier loadouts have been updated so units only have one secondary weapon - e.g. either a medikit, a SMG, a pistol, a stun baton, etc Shotgun now has an extra pellet, so does 33% extra damage Sniper rifle is about 10-15% more accurate than before Aliens now have 50 base accuracy instead of 60, the same as your soldiers My playtesting of the build makes me think this specific mission is in a pretty good place right now. The alien turn still takes an annoyingly long time and the aliens are pretty dumb, but I don't think those are things we can easily address before the Kickstarter. The feedback you guys have given us over the last couple of months has made a big difference to the core shooting mechanics - I think everything just feels a lot smoother and easier than it did originally. What we're looking for in the next build cycle is easy fixes or serious issues - two specific issues have been reported by the community that I've not been able to reproduce at my end, the first being a hang in the hidden movement phase and the second being some aliens not playing their death animation correctly when killed (and just standing there despite being dead). If you've got any information that might help us track that down, please let us know - even if it's a repost from an earlier version of the game that I might have missed first time around! I've also noticed there are some annoying locations in buildings where units can shoot out but you can't shoot back ... but it's too late to fix that in this build. Regarding the Kickstarter - the initial planned date was 4th May but we're likely to push that back a week or two. We're busily working on the Kickstarter page and editing video and all the million tiny things you need to do for a Kickstarter campaign, but I'm not sure we're going to be able to be able to get everything ready in time (particularly all the art). I'm fairly relaxed about this - we're not pushing back the start of the work, we're just giving ourselves enough time to finish the work that is already in progress. In the meantime I'm going to dump a load of fairly detailed information on the "final" design of X2 in the Xenonauts 2 Features sub-forum in the next few days. I think it's important that people know what our plans for the game because it informs their suggestions and feedback (and the design has morphed into a variety of different forms over the years), and we may be asking for community feedback on our ideas for stretch goals etc as the Kickstarter draws near.
  3. This version of Xenonauts 2 is a free public test build only available on GOG Galaxy, 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. We're expecting to release an updated build in two weeks, on Tuesday 24th April. If you're interested in following the progress of the game please sign up for our mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/4FKe9 I've written a longer update on what we've currently been working on and our plans for the future (including our upcoming Kickstarter) in this thread, but we've mostly been concentrating on the strategy layer and other maps this week and thus the changelog is shorter than it has been in previous weeks. CHANGELOG: Performance Improvement: the previous build had some errant lights in it that we've since removed, which should boost FPS. Destroyed States: Most objects now have a destroyed art asset, so they leave something behind when destroyed rather than disappearing entirely. Let us know if you see anywhere where this is missing or otherwise misbehaving! Shooting Mechanics Updates: The spread on "miss" shots has been effectively halved, causing miss shots to pass closer to the target. This means suppression is more effective and intervening units get hit significantly more often than before (and your soldiers look more competent). Windows should now allow wider firing angles through them. The block chance displayed on the shot path now does not display duplicate stopping chances if multiple objects fill the same slot (e.g. it won't display 40% three times if there's three different items with a 40% block chance in the same slot, it'll just do it once) The shot path now highlights all blocking objects, but with the highest one in a brighter shade of red. This is an experiment and we may revert this change if it makes the screen seem too cluttered. Stop Barrier: There's a new road barrier model floating around near the checkpoint on the right-hand side of the map. Bugfixes: Doors now open correctly again. Fire is now appearing correctly in the build (although it looks pretty bad) - previously both fire and smoke looked identical. Dead units are no longer highlighted, for real this time - this was fixed in our development builds but a shader issue meant the fix didn't actually make it into the public builds last week. There's still some known issues that we haven't yet resolved in the builds - most notably all the aliens acting aggressively and rushing you at the start of the mission and some general shonkiness with regards to shot paths etc - but I think the build are continuing to improve and the addition of "destroyed" states for most of the objects in the map makes things feel much more realistic once things start blowing up. For the next build cycle we're going to prioritise the AI aggressiveness fix and see if we can get the shot path stuff tidied up, and then maybe we'll look into the AI turn being kinda boring. If you experience any other bugs please let us know as we've only got two more builds left before our planned Kickstarter date and it'd help to identify any problems as early as possible!
  4. Chris

    Combat mechanics

    Nah, crouching is still in Xenonauts 2 but it just gives defensive bonuses right now because it was a bit too good in the first game. I understand your concerns about missions in X1 being repetitive (and you're right) but we're adding other systems that will hopefully address the problem in other ways. If you're going to play a Jagged Alliance game, make sure you pick up Jagged Alliance 2 - it's basically still the gold standard for a tactical combat simulator. There's been a number of sequels since but a lot of them were pretty bad, so make sure you get the right one!
  5. Chris

    Combat mechanics

    Hmm, I'm not sure it counts as "dumbing down" to not implement a feature that was never in the original X-Com game that this franchise is explicitly billed as a spiritual successor to. Lack of prone never stopped UFO: Enemy Unknown from becoming an incredibly well-regarded genre classic. The franchise that does include these mechanics is Jagged Alliance, but that has a subtly different focus to X-Com - it's about people fighting other people, and explores that in a great deal of detail. Thing is, a lot of that extra detail goes out the window when five missions into the game you're shooting space lizards with your new laser guns, and prone isn't necessarily going to add anything to our game in the same way as it makes JA2 (or apparently Apocalypse, which I must admit I've not played much of) a much richer experience.
  6. Chris

    New forums online!

    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).
  7. Chris

    New forums online!

    @Charon we're still having issues with the forum software company trying to get the downloads section fixed and I'm getting quite a few messages / emails from people who are keen to play X-Division but can't access the files. Would you mind uploading the files somewhere else until we can get it solved?
  8. Chris

    New forums online!

    I've fixed this up, although it shares the same colour as the forum user names elsewhere in the forum so it's still darker than I would like - but it is at least readable now.
  9. Chris

    Into the Breach

    It's a funny one - it's undoubtedly an incredibly clever game with a huge amount of awesome design crammed into a tiny space, and a setting that I really like ... but I don't feel much urge to play it any more after having completed a 4-island run with the starting mech team and getting all their achievements (whereas the thought of doing another FTL run is still an exciting idea to me). I'd say that I was impressed by Into The Breach, rather than that I enjoyed it.
  10. Chris

    New forums online!

    Link headings and mention colours are both fixed now; the rest is up to Solver!
  11. Chris

    New forums online!

    Thanks, we're just waiting on an authorization from the forum software guys so the download section will be reactivated, but that should happen in the next 24 hours. I'll fix up the white embedded link text shortly and then leave Solver to look over the other stuff - although a fair bit of the remaining stuff is just a result of the people who made this forum template changing the layout, so I'm not sure how easy it will be to fix (and naturally any future upgrade is just going to break it again).
  12. Chris

    New forums online!

    After some forays into accidentally deleting half the files in the theme because the "revert" button actually deletes files, I think I've got it all sorted. Let me know if there's anything extra I've missed!
  13. Chris

    New forums online!

    I still can't figure it out which option controls the header for the quote boxes, which is pretty annoying...
  14. Chris

    New forums online!

    I'm the guy to talk to if you can't read it in a couple of hours. Right now I'm aware of a bunch of problems, I just don't know how to fix them yet
  15. Chris

    New forums online!

    Alright, the text is in a different section so it'll take me a while to get to but I'll try updating it to something other than white.
  16. Chris

    New forums online!

    I'm quite liking red; pretty attention-grabbing! The alternative is probably blue which might be a bit less obtrusive...
  17. Chris

    New forums online!

    Question for @Charon and @Solver - our mentions used to look pretty bad, what background colour do we want to use for them now? May as well update it while I'm here...
  18. Chris

    New forums online!

    Bear with me, the guys who make the theme have changed most of the names of the colour boxes since the last version of the template so I'm trying to figure out what colours change what before I can get it set up to match the old one (and even then I need to fix up the differences in font size and line spacing etc)....
  19. Yeah - although right now we're concentrating on making the UI just function in the first place and then we'll do a final UI pass before the game is released (so you may find the early versions do still have problems with text scaling but it will get fixed before release).
  20. Chris

    What Xenonauts 2 needs

    One thing that's not yet in the game but I've (somewhat vague) plans for is to differentiate between veterancy / combat experience and the soldier skills. The former you only gain in combat or through running field agent operations that involve the risk of injury or death, whereas the other skills can be trained up and are things like "rifle competency" (you can slowly gain experience in these on the battlefield too). I haven't figured out exactly how training works but the idea is your soldiers are continually gaining skill points towards your chosen skill provided you have available training space for them in the base, and this does not make them unavailable in any way - you've just got to ensure you have enough Training Rooms to go round. Something like accuracy when using a gun would be split between veterancy and familiarity with the weapon - say the base accuracy for a rookie soldier is 40, and a maxed out Colonel has 60 base accuracy. But if they have Rifle Competency 1 they get +10 Accuracy and if they have Rifle Competency 3 they get +20 Accuracy. So a rookie with Competency 1 has 50 Acc with a rifle and a Colonel with Competency 3 has 80 Accuracy. But a Colonel using an unfamiliar weapon and a rookie that has been extensively trained with a rifle (which is much faster process) both have 60 Accuracy. So hiring a rookie at the start of the game and keeping him on the reserves bench while he trains up can pay dividends if your main team starts taking casualties.
  21. Thanks for the detailed feedback guys, I'll have a look through it and try and pick out any stuff we easily can fix up for the next release. I don't really want to talk too much about new mechanics right now because we're about to reveal a whole load of new stuff in the next couple of weeks, so it'd be best to do it after that. Max, I think you get an award for being the first guy to mod Xenonauts-2
  22. Chris

    X-2 and Others

    Xenonauts-2 is going to be more than just X1 with better graphics and better stability; there's quite a bit more complexity in the game and on the strategy layer in particular. I'll likely be posting up a preview of our Kickstarter page on the forums in the next week or two so I won't explain the changes right now as you'll have a much better idea of the game we're trying to make when you see our sales pitch! (I'll have the discussion about specific mods once we've laid out our plans for the game; having a detailed discussion would involve me having to explain too much about X2 if we try to do it now)
  23. Chris

    What Xenonauts 2 needs

    Heh, I've been explaining this concept for almost a decade now and I don't think I've ever managed to express it as succinctly or as effectively as you did there
  24. Oh damn, looks like I forgot to update the version number. Knew I'd forgotten something!
  25. This is true, but I guess the question I was asking is more this - if you're a big fan of Xenonauts and you want to get involved and play the game as soon as possible to help the dev team, would you be annoyed that we are $10 more for the closed beta? People are already donating their time and energy and some don't like also having to hand over extra money to be in the first beta.
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