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Build V9 is available on Desura and ready to download. Sadly, it doesn't include everything we wanted to put in it, but it is still a substantial improvement on V8.9 that we released a few weeks ago. Expect further updates over the coming weeks as finish the features we want to go in V9, and then (fingers crossed) we'll actually release this build to various press outlets. OK, so here are the improvements made: GEOSCAPE: - Launch menu: We've implemented a new launch menu when you attack UFOs / Crash Sites. It'll look better with the new GUI, but essentially now you have to select a destination before the window appears, and then the interceptors are sorted by proximity of bases and an ETA is provided to the target as well as various information on the craft readiness levels. - Interceptor Engagement window: We've implemented a new window that appears prior to attacking an enemy craft. This gives you the information on your interceptors, including the amount of time (in seconds) they will have in combat before they have to disengage due to low fuel. It will also show an image for each UFO taking part in combat, so you have a better idea of what enemy types you are taking on in combat. - Training System: This was actually released in V8.9 but that's only because we'd already coded it when we did some emergency bugfixes. Basically it allows you to send new recruits away for a week or so in order to give them a small stat boost and promote them to Coporal (where they don't cause a morale penalty to the troops around them as newly-recruited Privates do). - Alien Bases: The basic code for these has been added. I don't think you'll be able to play long enough to be able to get to them yet, but they are there. I think attacking them causes a crash because we're still working on linking them with the ground combat, but if you see a little house icon appear on the Geoscape then you've found an alien base. Obviously development on them will continue over the next couple of months. AIR COMBAT: - Relative Positioning: We've added code so the UFOs and Interceptors will now appear in the air combat in the position and headings that they had on the Geoscape when the combat was launched. This may mean it's a bit tricky to shoot down Scouts now, so we might have to do some more balancing with this. But it should make air combat a bit less predictable than it was previously. GROUND COMBAT: - Farm Tileset: We've added the Farm tileset to the game with a couple of maps. This is actually the default tileset used when another tileset can't be found, so you'll probably see quite a bit of it. It's still a work in progress, but it looks quite nice. The barn tiles haven't yet been painted over and are in their bare 3D form, but they'll be updated shortly with prettier versions (if you see Mechanicus floating around the forums, he made them). Also, there's not really any props in the maps yet besides walls, fences and hedges. They'll come with time, but we're concentrating on getting the foundations for the different tilesets done first as they are the hard bit. - Industrial Tileset Visual Update: We've also redone the ground tiles in the Industrial tileset. It's still the same map you've collectively played thousands of times, but it looks quite a lot prettier now. I've set the game up so any combat in the northern hemisphere uses the Farm tileset, and any in the southern hemisphere uses the Industrial. - Sebillians: We've added the Sebillain aliens to the game too. You should be able to encounter Sebillian Noncoms and Guards in missions - UFOs will either contain them or Caesans early game. All UFOs are now generated with their crews on the Geoscape, so if you play later in the game you'll likely encounter UFOs full of what appear to be Caesan non-combatants. These are the default sprites for aliens not added to the game yet. If you start seeing them, you've played too far into the build... - Loading Times: The ground combat loading times used to be pretty extensive - it didn't affect me too badly as I had a solid state hard drive but I think they were pretty shocking if you didn't have one of them. We've significantly sped up loading times by tidying up the code required, putting a texture atlas in place for each tileset, and stopping the game pre-loading all possible unit animations. This has reduced loading times to about a quarter of what they were previously. The only tradeoff is if you see a very slight pause before the game plays an animation - this may happen if it is the first time the animation is played. It shouldn't be noticeable, but that's the price you pay for not spending 3 minutes looking at the load screen. - Tileset-specific Civilians: We've now got three different civilian types for both the Farm and Industrial tilesets, instead of the single office worker spawning everywhere. Each tileset has its own library of civilians to ensure consistency. The number of civilians will expand as development continues. - Fire System: There is now support in the game and terrain editor for flammable items. As yet we don't have waist-high grass in the game, so there's no massive firestorms caused by detonating a rocket in a field of hay, but the code is there for it. A unit will take 30 damage on entering a tile with fire in it, and 30 damage if he starts a turn in a tile that is on fire. This is mitigated by armour's incendiary resistance. I'm not sure the pathfinding has been updated for this though - please post up bug reports if you see troops merrily strolling through an inferno and getting injured as a result. - Soldier Sight Ranges: These have been increased by about 50-60% to be more in line with X-Com. Lots of complaints about how short they were previously, and I think you guys were right. The game is a bit more enjoyable this way. - Shadows: Units now have them. We'll probably implement different shadows for the aliens and civilians though, as these have been made to suit the Xenonaut units and their stances. They don't necessarily match the other units in the game properly. MISC: - Modding: You can now mod the game and be confident the Desura autoupdater will not wipe out your changes. The game will now preferentially read files from a folder in your documents (same place as your save games) rather than its own file structure if told to do so. Therefore if you want to change the stats of a weapon, you'd keep weapons_gc.xml in that folder and the game will give you the option load that instead of the one in its own files. There's a couple of options at the bottom of the launcher that are linked to this - if you're not interested in modding the game, just ignore them. Full details are on the wiki here: http://xenowiki.goldhawkinteractive.com/index.php?title=Basic_rules_and_principles_for_modifying_Xenonauts BUGFIXES: Ground Combat: - Night combat maps should no longer appear when it is not night-time. - Pressing "I" in the inventory screen will now close the inventory view. - Menus are once again accessable on the Ground Combat maps (just press Esc). - Hotkeys can now be used after making a save game. - Crash caused by rearranging items on the inventory screen is now fixed - The unclickable soldier / 'ghost soldier' issue is fixed - Sending a soldier to battle armed with a Precision Laser and Wolf armour will no longer cause a crash. Geoscape: - Extra scientists no longer appear if you load a save game when a research is in progress. - Notifications about crashsites escaping to space will no longer appear - On the equip screen the hotkey for fast equipping / un-equpping is changed to Mouse 2 / Right-click. - On the Soldier Equip screen the Infinity mark for human weapons no longer changes to "-" - Multiple Xenopedia notifications will appear for multiple researches completed at the same time. - Callsign length is limited for vehicles and soldiers to stop overlong names being used. - Hunters will no longer disappear when loading a save game containing an airborne Chinook. - Reassigning the engineers to a different project will no longer result in crash. - Loading a save game will no longer remove parts of the tech tree. Air Combat: - The destroyed UFO notification will display properly (eg: "crashed into the sea", "crash-landed", "destroyed") As you can see, it is a rather substantial update. Things that are missing that I would like to have included but have not been able to: AI Model - this is progressing but we're still working on it. It will follow as soon as possible. The game is very easy without it unfortunately, as aliens will only fire at you with reaction fire at the moment even if you stand directly in front of you... New Ground Combat GUI - again, this is being implemented at the moment but is not done. Additionally, the dropships and crashed UFOs still need quite a bit of work. We're trying a few experimental things to make them look more realistic, and things are going well. I expect to have some updated spawn zones and crash sites in a week or two. Here's a sneak preview of how the new Chinook looks: Old Chinook: http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/oldchinook.png New Chinook #1: http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/chinook1.png New Chinook #2: http://www.xenonauts.com/devimages/chinook2.png Again, this is a result of all the money we've had coming in from pre-orders. It allows us to go the extra mile and actually make things good, instead of sticking with what gets the job done. So if you've pre-ordered the game, thank you. Hopefully this helps illustrate why everyone wins when we get money in pre-release! We're going to try and apply a similar principle to the crashed UFOs. There's some technical issues to work through, but if we can solve them than the UFOs should actually look like they've crashed and the ground should actually look like a UFO has crashed into it. So, that could be fun. Anyway, plenty to look forward in the coming weeks - the AI being the biggest thing. Give the new build a play and report any bugs on the subforum so we can fix them up.