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OK, so the time has come to bite the bullet and do a Kickstarter for this project. If you're unsure as to why we'd want to do this, it's mostly because a variety of games have done very well out of it - Doublefine and Wasteland 2 being the two most famous Kickstarters so far, but much smaller games like FTL have also raked in a lot of cash too. FTL is sitting at $150,000 at the moment. To put that in perspective, that's substantially more than we've taken in pre-order revenue over the entire lifetime of this project. The major difference between us and the other projects announced so far is that they are generally brand new games very early in the development cycle, whereas we're towards the end of ours. This is a disadvantage in the sense that we're not exciting new news in the same way as they are, but it's an advantage because we've got loads of nice art to show off and there should be less doubts about whether we can pull off making a game. Because we're an existing project, we're going to take a slightly different approach. My plan is to make a playable demo of the game available to everyone, so people can see for themselves how the game looks. Our pitch in the video is basically going to be "We're getting to the end of our development cycle, and we'd like to raise a load of money so we can make the game as good as it can be". This is a pretty honest pitch - we're going to need more money than we have now if we're going to make Xenonauts an exceptional game. We're on track to make it a good game - perhaps even a very good one, but we're constrained by cashflow on some of our ideas. Anyway, the flip side of this is that next weekend we're going to try and release the basic version of the build that we'll be releasing to the entire internet. The idea is this build will contain the gameplay in the game until a couple of weeks after the Corvettes appear, which will allow the player to get laser weapons and Wolf armour, and then it'll spawn a couple of scripted events - a terror site and then a base defence mission. Once the base defence mission is over, the demo will end. The hope is that it'll show off the best parts of the game to everyone, and convince them to pay up. It should also give journalists something to write about. Once the key features are in place, we'll just keep iterating it until it's basically bug free and then go ahead with the Kickstarter. We're going to be working pretty hard at this end to make the game as fun as possible so we can make as good an impression as possible. We're going to try and implement these features: Ground combat: - Slopes / Hills (important for house roofs, and the future arctic / desert tilesets) - Base Defence missions (generating a proper recreation of the player base) - Terror Missions (using the town tileset, which is admittedly very basic at the moment, and having no UFO on the map) - Adding the Andron alien race for either the Base Defence or the Terror mission (hopefully) - Giving the National Guard so AI Geoscape: - Finishing the air combat UI implementation - Balancing the air combat so that the Corvette is a bit more of a challenge and it is a bit more varied - Adding more of a research tree, allowing you to research alien corpses and the like - Making it a bit more obvious on the Aircraft Equip screen when you're manufactuing an aircraft We'll want you guys to test both the current and the next build as thoroughly as possible. The public build needs to be as stable as humanly possible when it is released, so we can make a good impression with the gaming public. Thoughts welcome!
Build V9.4 has now been released through the Desura client (though I don't think it is yet active for those doing the standalone download). Barring a couple of small new features and some bugfixes, this is basically the build that will be released to the general public along with the Kickstarter build (we'll also add new art as and when it becomes available). Please test it as much as you can. If there's any major bugs in the build, we need to squish them before public release for obvious reasons. The key new features are as follows: - We've added a new launcher window to the game. This is a bit ugly, but in terms of functionality it is a big improvement. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, the game will remember your screen resolution from game to game, so starting up is less of a pain in the ass (resolution can be set in the Options screen). Secondly, we've added the Quick Battle function, which will load up a Terror Site immediately after you place your base. This is basically for people who want to try the combat but don't want to go through the early game to get there, but hopefully you guys will enjoy it too. This feature will not be in the final version of the game. - A new alien type has been added to the build, a light combat drone that appears on the Terror Site. The animations are not yet all there for it (nor are the SFX) but they will be before the game comes out. In terms of role I think these drones will come into their own a lot more once we implement supression, plus the AI to go with them. They're intended to harass the player at long range with inaccurate long-range rapid fire weapons, but without suppression they don't really have their own niche yet. Still, I like them. They're kinda cute in their own way. We're working on a nice death animation for them too, which should arrive this week. - The Xenopedia has several new research images in it, and should display better than before. The only major issue with it is that the text is still being cut off prematurely. I need to look into that in a bit more detail, as it's a problem with the game engine rather than anything that our programmers can do anything about. - I've spent a little time on the Title Screen, scaling up the text and formatting it better to make it easier to read. There's still a problem with the text scaling here though so on a large monitor it'll still be largely unreadable (though better than before). - I've added some new maps to the game, and I'll try to expand them a bit so there's more variation. The Light Scout maps are smaller than before now, though the Scout maps are the same size. Should be better than before though. Obviously you can check out the (still WIP) Town tileset too by clicking on the Quick Battle. There's some new props floating around on the Industrial maps though, and I've designed them to have fewer buildings than before. - The MiG construction images should be working well now. There's three images that show the progress of the construction. - There's a new grenade explosion, so now it's a bit smaller than the massive explosion we use for the rockets and explosive scenery. There's also a new plasma-type explosion for the alien grenades, but they aren't throwing them yet so you're unlikely to see it. - We've put various bugfixes in place. These include fixes for building the MiG causing your engineers to disappear, or your money to vanish. Also, UFOs should display their size correctly now. Previously they were always displaying as Medium irrespective of their actual size. - There's also been a pretty major fix to the accuracy formulas. Previously shots were missing targets, but not scattering properly and so not deviating from their original shot path. This led to shots "missing" but frequent still striking their intended targets, effectively making weapons much more accurate than intended. The AI bug has not been fixed yet unfortunately, so I imagine you'll still encounter hangs in the ground combat. We'll release a hotfix for that when it arrives and we'll also fix any major issues you guys encounter in the testing pronto. We want to be sending this build out soon, so hopefully you'll see a flurry of activity from us over the next few days. The features we want to add to this build before it is complete are: 1) Adding Smoke and Nerve Gas grenades 2) Updated smoke / fire for the existing Frag grenade to couple with the new explosion animation. These will no longer generate fire, and the smoke will be thinner than the real thick stuff you get in the larger explosion. 3) There's a problem with the multi-tile rendering so multi-tile objects appear on the wrong layer and sometimes below things they should be (you can occasionally see this with the Chinook walls). 4) Extra art: - Light drone injury and death animations - Updated tiles (painted over versions) for the Town tileset and the new Industrial props, as many of the tiles are still currently 3D guides. 5) We'll add some civilians for the terror map. They're currently there, but don't have sprites so are invisible. 6) If possible, auto-toggle roof off toggle when a unit is behind a building I'm pretty tired now so I'm heading to bed, but give it a try and let us know what you think.