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Xenonauts 2 - Version 0.0.4 (Public Combat Test) Released!

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We have just released the very first build of Xenonauts 2 for public consumption. This build is available free of charge because it is a very early build of the game and we don't think the project is of the quality where we can reasonably expect everyone to pay for it (although you can pre-order if you want to); full details on where to get the build and the free / paid stuff can be found in this thread.

Although it is free and anyone can download it, we are not actively publicising this build - we'll do a big PR push and mailshot in two or three weeks once we've fixed the most glaring issues. This is intended to be a small-scale release for the people who care enough about the game that they still periodically check these forums :)

Overview:
This build contains a single combat mission and is intended to test performance / stability / functionality of the basic combat mechanics. If you were part of the Xenonauts 1 development process then you'll know what to expect, but if you only played the first game as a final product then you might be a little shocked at how everything looks and plays. This build is far better than Xenonauts 1 was at a similar stage of development (you can see an equivalent screenshot of X1 here) but there's still a lot of work to be done ... and, ultimately, video games usually only come together into a fun and playable product at the end of development!

In short, we know this build has plenty of issues with it and we'd prefer if people did not pre-judge the quality of the final product based on what is included in this build. We're seeking opinions and feedback on it now because if we hide the game away until it looks fantastic and is loads of fun to play, we could be too far along with development to fix any fundamental issues exposed by public testing. Getting feedback early and often will make for a stronger final game even if it does mean we have to start showing it off in a somewhat primitive state.

The build number is 0.0.4 rather than 0.0.1 because it's using our internal numbering system from the code, which forces updates on obsolete code and assets - basically resetting it to 0.0.1 would cause more trouble than it's worth so we'll just start at 0.0.4 and go from there!

Contents:

  • There is a single mission in the build, a deathmatch mission on a 60x60 tile outdoor wilderness map.
  • You have eight Xenonauts at your disposal with the same basic loadout as the starting squad in X1 (4 rifles, 2 shotguns, 1 sniper, 1 LMG) and with Jackal body armour on the shotgun guys. The numbers are generally the same as X1 except for the cover numbers (see section below).
  • There are six Psyons (the new name for the Caesans), two large armoured "officers" with Plasma Rifles and four smaller "drones" with Plasma Pistols.
  • All the graphics are awaiting a lot of polishing, but the UI and the Psyon drone model are especially placeholder.

Changes from X1:
The combat rules are relatively similar to Xenonauts 1, but there are some changes which I will outline here to avoid confusion.

  • Suppression and morale have not yet been implemented.
  • Overwatch is now manually triggered - if a Xenonaut is in a position to reaction fire, you now manually choose the shot type etc or can choose skip firing at that particular alien.
  • Manual crouching has been removed (although I'm actually strongly considering putting it back in at the moment).
  • Instead, units auto-crouch when adjacent to cover ... and if that cover is in the line of fire when the unit is being shot at, that piece of cover grants 1.5x the normal protection (we call this the "cover adjacency bonus").
    • E.g. a rock has a 30% cover value. If a unit is standing next to it, any incoming shots passing through the rock will instead treat the rock as having a 45% cover value.
  • Heavy cover is something that offers cover and is taller than a man (e.g. a tree trunk, or the corner of a building). We have a "leaning" system that allows you to lean into the adjacent tile so you can shoot round it whilst still gaining cover from it. However I believe at the moment you can shoot through heavy cover in the same way as you can shoot over waist-high light cover, so you probably won't see this in action ... but if you see black eye symbols appearing on the ground next to your soldiers in cover, it's the leaning system. Best ignore it if you see it for now.
  • Armour has been expanded a bit; weapons now have armour destruction chances as well as armour penetration. For now all you need to know is that shotguns are bad against armour and sniper rifles are unusually good.
  • Terrain now allows 1m raised / lowered areas like the river or the small hills you can climb up. This is a new feature we implemented about a week ago and it still causes some odd cover interactions, but it should allow much more interesting levels than the flat planes from X1.

Known Issues & Planned Improvements:
As is always the way when a deadline is involved, we couldn't fix up all the issues we wanted to fix or get all the features we wanted to implement into this build. There's a full-length post on the improvements we're going to be working on as of tomorrow which you can find here, but here's a quick overview of the problems with the build and the things we want to add in in the near future.

Key fixes (short term):

  • There's still some missing animations - units climbing / jumping into raised / lowered areas, and the injury animations. We've already got the animations done but haven't had time to implement them in the code.
  • There's quite a lot of line-of-sight / line-of-fire issues relating to height levels that need to be fixed up. The silver lining in this is that, once finished, we may be able to use this system to implement a realistic and reactive crouching system - e.g. a unit crouching in a river can't see or shoot out of it, but can't be seen or shot in return (if we can make that work then I'm all for bringing back manual crouching).
  • The fire path needs cleaning up in general, as it frequently tags non-intersecting objects as being part of the line-of-fire.
  • We need to fix up the issues around adjacent cover:
    • Standing next to aliens doesn't negate their cover bonus, which makes shotguns pretty useless right now...
    • Units shouldn't be able to hit the cover directly in front of them with "miss" shots, but at the moment they can and do
  • The camera needs more work during the alien turn and when shooting at off-screen enemies, as it often doesn't show you things that the player really should be seeing.

Key improvements (medium term):

  • We want to add the missing secondary items - grenades, medikits, etc.
  • The idea is to make these wilderness maps random but cutting them into sections and then assembling the layout at random each time you play.
  • We also want to be able to "biome-swap" these maps, so being able to turn a forest map into an arctic map with a couple of clicks by having equivalent props that just swap in and out depending on what biome is required.
  • Adding a UFO to the map is a priority - we've one modelled up, but we've not tested it in our level editor yet.
  • We've just started modelling up the Sebillian so we'd like to add them in when we can!
  • Showing off the strategy layer will likely be a two-part process:
    • We'll start with a loadout screen that lets you choose your squad loadout based on a squad equipment cap (i.e. you have a certain number of points to spend on ammo and special equipment).
    • We'll later expand that to the entire strategy layer.

So, to conclude, our focus for the next week or two will be to get the core combat mechanics working as intended and then we'll start to expand the content of the game after that. So please give the game a play and let us know what's breaking for you!

Feedback is best posted in this thread: http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/index.php?/topic/13498-xenonauts-2-feedback-priorities/

 

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PS - I'm very tired and my brain hurts so I won't be opening the X2 parts of the forums until tomorrow, and the new website may be a few more days yet. All before the end of the week though hopefully!

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