Chris

Debating Xenonauts 2

145 posts in this topic

I'm not serious about making the game yet - I'm just working out what the game would look like if I was going to make it. Once I know that I'll be able to make a decision about whether we should make it, or just continue working on something entirely different instead.

I would buy it even if you don't make it!

But I prefer that you do!

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About the maps then... (hire me? :))

Instant-YES! ;)

...We'll do our best not to make everything look super-generic like some games do, anyway.

Hooray! Sounds as the game is below the distant horizon of eventuality.

I'm not serious about making the game yet...

OOoohh...

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or3db.jpg

I enjoyed Xenonauts throughout its development and in its finished state, but for your own sanity, do you really want to spend another 2-3 years to make the same game over again, considering that everyone and his dog has made an XCOM clone before you? Personally, I think it would be a waste of your creative efforts. Anyway, to answer your questions:

Would you buy a Xenonauts remake?

No, I don't think I would, unless you made it sufficiently different from Xenonauts 1. I enjoy single-player games partially for their novelty value, and there won't be much of that in a remake of a remake of XCOM. I'd much rather play in a different setting, like underwater or on a giant space station, or even as the alien faction. However, the vanilla, terrestrial-surface setting would be acceptable if the combat system or the tech tree were radically different than that in the original game. I need something new, and a graphical face-lift just isn't enough. Besides, what you're describing sounds essentially like UFO Afterlight/math/shock.

What annoyed me most about Xenonauts?

I think that the combat AI was the most lackluster aspect of the whole game. It wasn't terrible, but it never seemed like the alien squad was working as a cohesive unit. I wonder if it would be possible to make the computer learn from games between two human opponents (assuming that you had a multiplayer mode).

Oh right, the missions got monotonous after awhile. Yeah there were a few base raids and terror sites now and then, but 90% of the game was the same thing. You could definitely be more creative with regards to mission types.

Edited by lemm

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I'd love to see a Xenonauts 2, and would gladly pay for it, providing it further developed the gameplay. The same game in 3D probably wouldn't be enough for me. Some things I'd like to see for a sequel are:

-Changes to the way weapon tiers works. Instead of each tier of weapons and armour simply being a straightforward +1 improvement, I would prefer that they fill slightly different roles. For example, perhaps lasers are better at long range than plasma but lack the armour penetration of plasma and mag weapons.

-A starting fixed wing transport. It would be much faster than the helicopter, and maybe a slightly larger capacity. This could balance because your troops would be parachuting out, so they will be randomly scattered across a small portion of the map and may suffer a first turn TU penalty or something similar.

-Off map supports. We have these fighter jets, could we call them in for a strafing run every now and again? A soldier could be equipped as a 'radio operator', and every couple turns they could call in an attack, which would then be executed sometime in the next two turns. Another use for escorting fighters could be a recon sweep. they lift the fog of war on a swath of the map for 2 or 3 turns

-A way to direct civilians out of danger. They seem to like to hang out in my dropships, but i'd love to be able to tell them where to go when my soldiers are within a few tiles distance. It's frustrating to see them running around a bathroom for 5 turns in a row.

-Local reinforcements. In terror missions, local forces already give you sight over the map after 20 turns. I think it would be interesting if they could also parachute in a half dozen 'local force' soldiers for you to command if you meet certain requirements, set up like secondary objectives. For example, if I make it to 10 turns and and have an aforementioned radio operator still alive, he could highlight a 10x10 area that has been cleared of enemies for a landing zone. other requirements could be saving a certain amount of civilians

- A proper spherical globe. The 2D projection is fine, but I am not a fan of the distorted distance of the map closer to the poles.

Count me excited to see what happens with this. I really enjoyed Xenonauts and would love for you guys to add some depth. There are some great ideas others have had in this thread. Wish you the best of luck

Edited by meerkatking

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For Xenonauts 2 I would like you to take a look at Terror from the Deep. No, no, not the setting, or the fact that they somehow managed to make a plot-making-sense sequel (did they?). Look at the things they added in TfoD and just include them in X2. Bigger techtree, terrain with hills (but no bigger maps, in TfoD they were waay to big), maybe the multistaged maps. You can also throw in some aliens unique to this sequel.

I also would like to see more of the cold war aspect. I really liked the fact you moved setting to cold war. It suits the game well. Thread already has few ideas how to enhance the cold war experience. I myself would like to see that funding from eastern/western bloc would be more egoistic. Or rather blogoistic :) - meaning US will give you more money if you protect western bloc skies, and USSR will give more when crushing aliens in commies' countries.

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Just a short reply with 2 remarks:

Would I buy Xenonauts 2: Definitly! I need X-Com style running

Going full 3D: I think engines like Unity will allow for a big head start, but importance is to keep your style and the overall isometric view.

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Hello.

Thank you for the work and I would support any additional versions.

Things I'd like to see:

-Night Vision Goggles. As they work off body temps, this could be played with for how different aliens appear.

-Alien Activities. Have them making crop-circles, abductions, constructing structures, etc...then they pack up and leave. This would give a sense of limited time and play havoc with some of the strategies used.

-two player game option (Alien vs Human).

-I think the stun gas grenade is way too powerful in radius.

-While nice 3D isn't all that important and the current view pays tribute to the early X-Com parents (which I played on my Atari 800XL) but maybe a 90 degree (Left/Right) rotate would be helpful if changed. The figures are already modded for it as well.

-Have the role classification (Rifle, Assault, etc) appear over the figure.

Again, thanks for the investment of time and intellect.

Matt

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The two things that annoyed me the most about the first game where the ending and the lack of maps.

The ending really restrained you, too.. and the fact that you structured the way you did meant that we only got to see a few praetors in action before the last mission (where you could one-shot him from afar with the right team, at least in the 2nd difficulty).

I guess that if you do set out to make a remake, procedural or semi-procedural map generation should be a priority. You have no idea how much replay-ability that alone gives to a game.

I agree with you that you should really focus on making the maps in general more attractive, as they were a little bit bland in a lot of scenarios... And if possible aim for 100% destructibility.

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I would be willing to buy the game if I could get an official looking box and CD or DVD of the game included with the purchase.

The main reason is every time I have crossed the border and had my stuff searched, every non-official CD and DVD has been 'confiscated', even if I had the originals in the shipment. It appears this is the policy for border crossings. Annoyingly, I've permanently lost a fair bit of software this way since the keys or serials I kept on reburnable CDs too. I need the official looking stuff, and a box would be good too so I can personally find and identify my games.

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The best part about X-Com was the destructible terrain and the only reason I purchased Xenonauts was to obtain a game with improved UI that offered similar tactical play and didn't require DosBox. For me to buy Xenonauts 2, it would have to substantially improve in this area. A proper physics engine (Silent Storm or Sui Genaris for example) would be a big plus.

I did not buy the new XCom because it appeared to offer no improvements at all in the environmental portion of the game.

Bullet holes, penetration, fires, flammable objects (not just explosive objects), impact, flying debris and other environmental effects would be fun. For its time, X-Com did an excellent job of making combat and the environment interact with each other. New games should be able to do a lot better. Divinity: Original Sin had some success in this area.

The move to 3D would be a welcome one. People have compared early 3D games like Neverwinter Nights to late 2D games like Baldur's Gate II but that's an unfair comparison. It would be more fair to compare Neverwinter Nights to Wasteland 1. The difference between modern 3D games and Neverwinter Nights is as big as the difference between Baldur's Gate II and Wasteland 1. 2D games also lose the ability to take advantage of many dynamic features and rely upon clever scripting to mimic things like bullet collision and lighting effects.

As for what annoyed me the most about Xenonauts? It was a toss-up between short LOS or the fact that the game barely managed to surpass X-Com's gameplay in the area of environmental impact. But the latter problem was likely the result of development being hog-tied by the 2D Diner Dash game engine. It's obvious that Goldhawk isn't going to make that mistake again.

Edited by Akavit
Answered the second OP question

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Why a remake rather than a sequel?

I've been considering ideas for sequels to Xenonauts for a while. Sadly the tech level of the humans at the end of Xenonauts is so powerful that narratively I don't think there's anywhere we can go that would not take the series into completely different territory (e.g. dealing with a societal collapse caused indirectly by alien technology, fighting aliens across different dimensions, fighting a Skynet-style entity etc).

If we're going in a different direction, we may as well start with an entirely blank slate rather than tenuously tying the game to the events of Xenonauts. We'd get much more freedom that way, so in my mind there's no sense in making a Xenonauts 2 that covers different events.

Just to throw something out there in the 'entirely blank slate' category, I'd love to see a cross between X-Com and the Cthulhu mythos... the Great Old Ones are returning from beyond the stars to eat our brains, and we're trying to stop them. I've never quite figured out what the strategy layer would be for that, though.

[*]UI - the existing UI is a bit of a mess, particularly with regards to the strategy layer, so we'd redo that.

[*]Air Combat - I'm not sure exactly how I'd redesign this yet, but I think it could do with further improvement.

The most important thing you can do as far as the UI is make the font size configurable; my wife's eyes are not very good, so she read the text even on a 23" monitor.

As far as the air combat goes... I really dislike reflex games in my turn based strategy game. I don't have the reflexes for them, which is a major reason I play turn based games.

Two questions - one, would you buy an improved version of Xenonauts again if we made it? Secondly, what annoyed you about the first game and what do you think we should improve?

I'd buy it.

In addition to the font sizes and the air combat, it would be nice to see a deeper tech tree. I like the way researching Alenium explosives automatically upgrades things; it would be nice to have a lot of the earlier techs work like that, giving the sense that your techs are frantically jury-rigging things to get them working. E.g., adding alien alloy plating to existing armor as soon as you've researched it, before you've actually designed new armor. Jury-rigging a plasma cannon for a vehicle out of several captured alien rifles (after all, if you're mounting them in a turret ergonomics aren't a problem), with the downside being that it's time-consuming to replace the ammo (multiple turns, perhaps) and a chance of the weapon simply not working.

I'd also like to see the same approach taken in regards to your soldiers; the military has never been shy about giving its soldiers performance enhancing drugs, and I certainly can't see that changing if we're being invaded by aliens. Having to upgrade your not just your equipment but your soldiers themselves to keep up with the aliens would be a very nice touch (and not in a 'balanced' way that doesn't actually make them better than a non-enhanced soldier, either -- I'd like to see the endgame enemies such that a fully experienced and equipped set of non-enhanced soldiers are going to get steamrolled).

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Just to throw something out there in the 'entirely blank slate' category, I'd love to see a cross between X-Com and the Cthulhu mythos... the Great Old Ones are returning from beyond the stars to eat our brains, and we're trying to stop them. I've never quite figured out what the strategy layer would be for that, though.

The reason I ended up thinking about Xenonauts 2 was actually because I was dreaming up a game where you were doing exactly that (called "Paranauts"), playing a secret military organisation trying to protect the world against Cthulu and the like. In a way it'd almost work better than an alien invasion game because the enemies would be summoned or appear through dimensional gates, so it doesn't need the air war. I decided Xenonauts 2 would be a better idea in the end though.

I'll post something up on the research tree later today, because I do want to discuss that. Being able to refine your existing tech and retrofit it with new discoveries later in the game is something I think would be very cool.

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Wasn't Terror from the Deep basically "Xcom meets cthulhu mythos"?

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I like all the ideas mentioned, and here are a few things that could be added

- 3 x 3 x 3 sized aliens... like a Rancor type monsters

- More choices in armament for air would be appreciated. Also maybe increase the number of jets/ufo's and make the combat turned based?

- Stargates.. someone mentioned it earlier, but what would happen if the aliens brought transportation gates to bring in resources/troops from other planets. Securing one of those gates would give humans an opportunity to explore maps on other planets. These would be "optional" maps to play for the purpose of securing extra resources, cash, intel, fun. Maybe even introduce the "transportation" gate in the tutorial as the only item that survived the iceland incident and earth had a few decades to learn it's secrets. You could limit the usage of gates to the mid/end portion of the game by making the maps impossibly hard with only well trained and equipped soldiers having a chance of succeeding.

- Xenonaut injuries could be expanded, those who are shot and end up with -10 hp might just be incapacitated instead of killed. Incapacitated xenonauts could be in critical condition and need to be stabilized by a teammate to make it back to the base alive. I know there's a formula in place, but this would add an extra layer and a small chance for players to rescue their favorite soldier.

- More death animations.. Head shots (head disappears and helmet flies back a few feet), softball size holes in torso's, exploding limbs.

- Limb injuries/removal would be cool, it would take the xenonaut out of action and off the base until limbs can be regrown (who doesn't want alien lizard dna inserted in them?) or mechanical prosthetics are researched.

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In My own Opinion, if a second Xenonauts were to be made i would certainly buy it, even at full price if it was different enough. Some of these differences could possibly be stuff such as; having ambient animals roaming the map, this is to cause some unsureness in wooded area kind of like how civilians do in Cities, Possibly the option to scan a battle field first but at the cost of either more aliens or alien health, and last i might offer the possible idea of an LAN Multi-player session. this could be done with a base per person and shared currency. So when starting a game each player can place a base and build up their soldiers their own way, but would have to be careful with their money due to sharing it. Any ways, just some suggestions that could be added! would be Great to see another xenonauts!

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Full 3D - In my opinion, fancy graphics is not essential. Its good to have a nice picture, but graphics, above all elce, should look good. Take old games with simply polygonal graphics like Unreal. It may be old, but looks MUCH better than many fancy 3d that came out years later. I think that graphics may be changed, but do not focus on 3d. Focus on good image, and you will make a good impression.

Aliens Lots of them are good, but If you want to rework some of them, its fine. I have some ideas, like making aliens research groups with non-combatants that carry tools or equipment instead of just guns. The only think I didnt like much is the drones. There is a small drone and a bigger drone, they all look similar. Maybe we can Add huge robots or alien vehicles. Just not to have similar looking small-drone/medum-drone/large drone. We can also sell alien corpses, like in Xcom. Instead of just destroying them, every university in the world (or a rich millionaire) would love to have a stuffed alien for collection and study.

Idea: We can also make reaper bodies expensive, but their study can cause zombie incident, so you can have an option to destroy them or risk dangerous outbreak of zombies/reapers or any other virus.

Research / Development - Since our head scientist from time to time mentions that other countries do their research too, we can make an interesting thing. Instead of reworking a tech tree (just add more techs) we can add a combined research scale, like develop several regional-only projects (like advanced AA for USSR, advanced Plane for USA, advanced tank For China, gas for South America etc) which will be obtainable only via supplying locals with alien artefacts/corpses/equipment and will be better than xenonaut only counterpart. For example, our USSR ally is tinkering with their tanks, in order to make them more resistant to alien fire, but they need more alien materials. So, by offering them more alien materials for a very discounted price, they will work on development of a new tank. After researching you will be able to buy those advanced tanks from them and local forces will be seen using them.

Destructible UFOs Interesting Idea, they must be hard to destroy early on though, since they are tough even for Air Missiles (According to description, so you will have to make really tough, or change the description.)

Vertical Terrain Good idea, just make things look less "quadrat" its not nice looking at all. Especially when it comes do destroyed buildings.

XCOM Cover System NO, NO and NO. Xcom takes into account only 1 cover, the one you are using at the time. If you are standing in the open, you have no cover, even if there are lots of crates and tables and whatever in the shooters way. Your system takes every object into the account, which turns battles in the offices and factories rather an interesting experience. I am definatly in the favour of your current system. Especially when a 10% road fence saved a life of a Private from a plasma pistol shot by that last annoying non-combatant coward that had no guts to fight me in the open.

Soldier Colour Customisation Another fancy function, but easy to make and will look good too. Since it will be purely cosmetic, I guess go for it, but it should not be in the priority list.

UI Its not that bad, but you can add few modifications like some tips or anything.

Air Combat Air combat is a really well done system. But I guess I have couple of ideas for that. We can add a certain courage level for enemy UFO, so when it gets badly damaged, it will try to escape, or will become more cautious. So we can add a possible upgrade, like adding additional weapons to transport ships (they wont be able to destroy a UFO but will be able to scare off a damaged one, for the price of speed for example.) We can also add local forces here too and instead of just western helicopters, use USSR helicopters too. For example Chinook will have a extra machine gun, and soviet helicopter wont have this option but will be able to get out of the map, and make a couple of shots with unguided missiles pods (you still need to call him back in order to evacuate).

This brings me another interesting Idea, instead of helicopters we could use trucks (for short distances) which will allow us to take heavier tanks and such, but will be very slow. Maybe we can also add some AA systems for our bases. I understand that during Cold-War every active participant was simply LOADED with AA, and they dont seem to be effective against Aliens, but I guess we can add some cheaper stationary batteries, or fortify local armies by sharing technology.

Tutorial We defiantly need that one, to explain new players some basics. Training camp will be the most boring, yet more practical solution, while Iceland can prove to be interesting, but can leave couple of spoilers. Can we have control T-55 please or at least a M-48?

Now for the other questions. Yes, I liked xenonauts enough to buy a second game.

What Annoyed me? Well First thing was a problem with a scared soldier that decided to throw his weapon and escape... towards the enemy. Yes, I understand that facing horrors like reapers or whatever you can drop your gun and escape, but it was supposed to be running FROM the enemy, NOT TOWARDS it. Its really annoying to see how a trooper with a shield dropped it and ran directly towards enemy fire. Broken troopers must run away from enemy, please.

Locals forces vehicles. I understand that T-80 would be an Overpowered alien rape machine but watching at all those vehicles just standing there makes me fell uncomfortable. This is just not natural. After all, sitting in a steel box is safer than in the open, considering that plasma rifle couple of shots to take down a ferret (with a small chance to block) a T-80 should be much more resistant. And having T-80 in Alaska is a bit weird, there should be Abramses. Anyway, in order to balance it a bit we can make a compensation to aliens in a form of either their vehicle present for each tank OR for additional aliens, maybe with heavy weapons. After all, I really enjoyed the idea of local forces, especially after seing in XCOM TOURISTS in HAWAIIAN shirts at the military base while having sounds of fighting on the background. Add local forces jeeps with machineguns, Tanks and so on. Make it look like a real fighting. Terror mission is a full scale attack after all, which requires a usage of Nuclear weapons! So make it look so! You wont use nukes against a bunch of aliens around 10-20 of them, wont you? You will use it against a large invasion, thats exactly why you called an army. And another thing, is about crashed UFOs. Instead of Air strike you should leave an option for the local army to take car of it, which will help in country special project, which I mentioned in the research part.

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The reason I ended up thinking about Xenonauts 2 was actually because I was dreaming up a game where you were doing exactly that (called "Paranauts"), playing a secret military organisation trying to protect the world against Cthulu and the like. In a way it'd almost work better than an alien invasion game because the enemies would be summoned or appear through dimensional gates, so it doesn't need the air war. I decided Xenonauts 2 would be a better idea in the end though.

Actually, seems like a nice idea. Fighting paranormal creatures and so on. Instead of air combat we can add something like powerful telepaths/psychichs/astral mages whatever, fighting the evil presence. In a form of a mini-game of course.

I remember there was a dumb show about competition of "extrasences" or something, which gave me an idea.

So basically we have 50-s setting with some evil spirit trying to take over the world, in order to sacrifice humanity to wake up an ancient god or something similar. As a story there will be some incident involving unknown cult sacrificing thousands of people in a strange ritual and summoning demons or something. After the investigation the governments found out that there are members of cult in governmental structures and so on, and start a secret war against them. First off you fight cultists, they try to open gates to hell or other dimension and so on and then we try to intercept them, break their rituals and so on. I can come up with lots of ideas, if I stop to ponder this one for a bit.

Edited by icewindofchange

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That's great news! I would totally buy a sequel to Xenonauts!

That would finally let me play the game with a fresh start, not already knowing exactly what is going on under the hood ;)

Too bad I can only be a backer this time, back into the development team were good times :')

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Cthulhu related instead of Aliens, why not.

I propose to read about the board game Arkham Horror.

In a city some portals to other dimensions open and monsters enter the city. The goal is to close these portals before one of the Ancients is ready to enter the world, which has to be battled then, but it is damned hard.

To close the portals you have to enter them, survive/overcome an obstacle and when coming back having enough of some tokens to close it.

For the transistion into a Xenonauts game a lot of intersecting points are there to be used, I guess.

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The reason I ended up thinking about Xenonauts 2 was actually because I was dreaming up a game where you were doing exactly that (called "Paranauts"), playing a secret military organisation trying to protect the world against Cthulu and the like. In a way it'd almost work better than an alien invasion game because the enemies would be summoned or appear through dimensional gates, so it doesn't need the air war. I decided Xenonauts 2 would be a better idea in the end though.

I'll post something up on the research tree later today, because I do want to discuss that. Being able to refine your existing tech and retrofit it with new discoveries later in the game is something I think would be very cool.

If you end up looking at the Paranauts idea further, I strongly recommend reading Charlie Strauss's Laundry novels if you haven't; they're a cross between the Mythos and a spy novel/technothriller, with a good dose of 'dealing with British Government beauraucracy thrown in, leading to things like this (from a formal committee report):

"If we pursue this plan, by late 2006 any two adjacent public CCTV terminals — or private camcorders equipped with a digital video link — will be reprogrammable by any authenticated MAGINOT BLUE STARS superuser to permit the operator to turn them into a SCORPION STARE basilisk weapon. We remain convinced that this is the best defensive posture to adopt in order to minimize casualties when the Great Old Ones return from beyond the stars to eat our brains."

What's not to love about that?

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Yeah, I'd probably get Xenonauts 2.

As for what bugs me about Xenonauts, I was pretty sad you can't put a base in Antarctica like in UFO Defense.

I'm pretty sure it was because the map was 2D and flat, so think of this as more of a plea for a 3D globe.

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If you end up looking at the Paranauts idea further, I strongly recommend reading Charlie Strauss's Laundry novels if you haven't; they're a cross between the Mythos and a spy novel/technothriller, with a good dose of 'dealing with British Government beauraucracy thrown in, leading to things like this (from a formal committee report):

"If we pursue this plan, by late 2006 any two adjacent public CCTV terminals — or private camcorders equipped with a digital video link — will be reprogrammable by any authenticated MAGINOT BLUE STARS superuser to permit the operator to turn them into a SCORPION STARE basilisk weapon. We remain convinced that this is the best defensive posture to adopt in order to minimize casualties when the Great Old Ones return from beyond the stars to eat our brains."

What's not to love about that?

I love those books.

So, a game where you play as the Artist's Rifles?

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I will buy a xenonauts 2, HOWEVER.

It will never be as good as the first. And the difference will be glaring, all the more so for it being a "remake".

I strongly suggest against making a remake. Make something new. A Xenonauts 2 can explore the idea of a future after the xenonauts won. What happens then? Is the fight taken to the aliens? Does earth remain sane, or does the new technology trickle down and cause massive destruction at the hands of bad people? etc.

I don't know what exactly, but not a remake. Something new and creative.

I'd be happy to join creative thinking sessions :)

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