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Policenaut

Xenonauts X-pansion Pack

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So I've been working on a project that I've decided to call the Xenonauts X-pansion Pack (XXP). The goal of the XXP is to spice up the gameplay of vanilla Xenonauts by adding new unique content and try to rebalance/fix various flaws in its design, while still maintaining the general feel. XXP also aims to include a bunch of minor additions like various sound effect and graphical improvements. Basically making Xenonauts into an even better X-Com remake that it deserves to be.

There has been several Total Overhauls in the history of Xenonauts modding and while they're all neat experiences, they often stray too far from the general feel that vanilla Xenonauts tried to achieve. I personally was for example never a fan of the tedious amount of micromanaging in X-Com and really enjoyed how Xenonauts streamlined this, although perhaps a bit too much reducing player choice somewhat. In XXP there will be a bit more choice, for example whether you use the powerful alien weapons for yourself (even though they have penalties applied to them for humans) and thus hamper your economy or sell them all for maximum profit. It will also introduce a "black market" later in the game which allows for profiting on selling captured live aliens, thus giving players an incentive to actually capture aliens more than once.

These are just some of the many changes that the XXP will introduce and more of them can be found in the design document which you can find below. It also comes packed with a very WIP version that is not really properly playable, however like the design document mentions you can test some of the new weapons and see the two new alien types. Just shoot down a lightscout as they've been added to the crew. The new weapons should be unlocked already. There is no need to report any bugs or problems in the WIP version as I'm already aware of them. Some ideas and details I have been thinking of are not yet in the current design doc but they will be added in later and I will update the whole thing together with your feedback as well.

NOTE: Make sure to delete the internal scripts folder (i.e C:\users\username\Application Data\Goldhawk Interactive\Xenonauts\internal) after trying it since it messes with some UI .lua scripts I edited while experimenting. In case you just want to read the design document I've added an alternate download as well.

Download
Design doc + WIP
Design doc only

I'm still in the arduous process of implementing most of the new weapons, aliens, UFOs and aircrafts etc, so I haven't actually been able to test most of the dramatic gameplay changes proposed in the design document. What I'm looking for is input and feedback on the ideas though. Don't be afraid to critique it since I will use your feedback to improve upon the XXP.

Also since the XXP builds upon many mods and ideas from the Xenonauts community merged with my own, I'd like to thank all of the great people who've contributed in some form or another. This wouldn't have been possible without your previous efforts and I'd like to think of the XXP as being an "indirect" community expansion. Thank you.

If you'd also like to help or contribute in some way, just say so.

Credits
X:CE team - for making most of the changes possible.
zzz1010 - Original Creeper Pack mod which was edited, rebalanced and improved upon to create the new Creeper.
Max_Caine - Max_Caine's Warehouse mod which included the original Toxic Goo Launcher, Firewall and Glitterglass Grenade which were all edited, rebalanced and bug fixed. Drone Strike Package which included the Smart Weapons, Drone Aircrafts, Attack Frigate UFO and Drone Carrier UFO. These were all edited, rebalanced and bug fixed as well.
Ferry Susanto - Toxic Goo Launcher, Firewall and Glitterglass Grenade artwork.
Bogdan Bungardean - Drone Aircraft artwork.
Marwan Islami - Smart Weapons artwork.
skaianDestiny - Vehicle alienium/plasma/fusion rocket artwork.
Kabill - Inspiration for the vehicle and dynamic UFO gameconfig changes. Also the Unique Psionic Attack and next soldier button graphics.
Axiomatic - Inspiration from the UFO and crew diversity mod.
The "Furies, Terror, and Dreadnoughts Oh My" team (SkaianDestiny, Kabill, Dpelectric, Langy and Ilunak) - original versions of the Assault Lander and Dreadnought that were edited and slightly rebalanced.
[Tribe] Lorebot - Inspiration from the Saracen Reborn mod which was edited and slightly rebalanced.
IgnusDei (Francois Cannels) - UFO Xenopedia artwork.
HenryPonciano - Various Xenopedia artwork.
LordJulian - Jackal Armour Graphics and Aegis armour helmet.
Skitso - Inspiration for darker nights among other things.
Ilunak - Next Soldier UI button which was slightly edited.
chuumink (Henry Wirawan) - Xenopedia artwork.
JSleezy - New Buzzard Helmet.
Lightgemini - Improved Projectile Particle effects.
AAJS - Inspiration for the Personal Anti Gravity Generator.

Screenshots

Xenonauts_gc_editor 2016-11-28 16-37-06-60.jpgXenonauts_gc_editor 2016-11-28 16-37-14-64.jpgXenonauts_gc_editor 2016-11-28 16-38-03-10.jpg

Xenonauts_gc_editor 2016-11-28 16-38-21-87.jpgXenonauts_gc_editor 2016-11-28 16-39-55-50.jpgXenonauts_gc_editor 2016-11-28 16-39-25-65.jpg

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My impressions of the design doc at least are very positive. It seems to fit well with how I think about the game. I'm also interested in seeing a bigger mod that addresses the game's weaknesses without quite having the same scope as the major overhaul mods like X-Division or Xenophobia. I am hoping to contribute with some useful feedback, and I will certainly consider supporting the coding effort on the X:CE side where feasible. Now on to some early comments about the specifics.

Importance of ground vs. air

I think this is perhaps the biggest issue to address. I've tried some of your ideas in my (unpublished) mod. I reduced relations penalties from most air-related events, increased landing chances and such, but ended up encouraging grinding too much. This is a difficult thing to balance. GC should be more important than the AC, but that doesn't mean that making GC take up much more time is the solution. It's important to also give players the ability to ignore many of the available GC missions without a huge penalty.

Dropship escorts are a good suggestion to solving some of the issues, perhaps in conjunction with increasing dropship speed. For the starting Chinook that is - it's incredibly slow. The purpose of making it so slow originally was to prevent players from grinding every crash site in a wave, but I don't think it's a great solution.

Perhaps you should also think about disabling the UFO ability to shoot down dropships altogether. I think it's one of the design mistakes made in Xenonauts. It doesn't sound too bad in theory, but in practice, the best protection is not to fly during UFO waves, and when a shootdown happens, it's just frustrating - it's a very important RNG roll with regards to what happens to your soldiers. You lose the ability to fly to missions for several in-game days (probably for the next UFO wave), you lose some - or all - of your best soldiers and have to just grind it on from there, and it's not in any way a great feature.

Symmetrical weapon design

The damage types / resistances system is indeed very underused in Xenonauts. I would like XXP to avoid a spreadsheet situation though where you have to know the damage types of 30 weapons and the different resistances of every alien rank and race. But I would really like to see some weapons being better against specific races, thereby also increasing the value of intel. The original X-Com actually did some of this pretty well. Sectopods were extremely tough and would take a lot of shots even from the powerful heavy plasmas, but laser weapons killed them faster.

If the goal is to maintain a vanilla-like feeling overall though, it will be important not to go overboard. Heavy micromanagement is incompatible with a vanilla feeling. So if you, at some point at the game, have 30 viable weapons, it's too much.

I can only support the vehicle ideas. Armoured Assault is a very good mod for making vehicles more valuable, but it doesn't differentiate them very much.

Psionic protection

As much as I dislike things that it's impossible to protect against, I don't know how much of an issue this is really. After some bug fixes to the original game, psionics aren't really that powerful except for Praetors, and they should be very powerful. Most of the time your units just get hit by morale-damaging attacks, which don't lead to any consequences part of the time, and usually just end up in the soldier panicking. Annoying but not too dangerous. Hallucinate is more dangerous as it makes your guys go berserk, but again, berserk bugs have been fixed for a while now so it's not such a huge danger, most of the time berserking soldiers don't hit anything. And I've even had them kill aliens sometimes.

Mind control is very easy to defend against now. The one-turn delay means you should just run back with all your other guys. The mind-controlled unit may run back towards them but won't have TUs to shoot.

Dread is the most dangerous psionic power by far, but again, that's the main power of the Praetors, the ruling caste of the aliens. If players do not fear Praetors, you have a balance problem.

Capturing aliens

I strongly support more incentives for capturing aliens and perhaps making a couple more captures mandatory, though again, don't overdo it. But in vanilla, capturing is not important enough. You need anyone - Officer - Leader - Praetor. And actually each alien can serve for the previous one as well, so you could just capture some Leader in the mid-game and then a Praetor and thus complete the requirements. The damage bonus system is nice to encourage you to capture one of each race, but it's not such a strong incentive. Selling live aliens for money on the black market sounds like a good idea to me.

One thing I really liked in the original X-Com (though it was underused) was that aliens had jobs and so capturing aliens with different jobs gave you different results. There were engineers, navigators, medics, etc. Something like this could be done again. Capture an engineer and learn something useful about UFO construction. Capture a medic and get a damage bonus against those aliens, etc.

I am very undecided on using alien weapons. It makes very little sense lore-wise. A weapon that's literally designed for a different species isn't going to be as effective in human hands as a human weapon, and so it's hard to imagine why your soldiers would want to use the alien weapons. You have to balance it, like you said, with giving TU and accuracy penalties to represent that they're not human technology, but at that point, why use them?

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Yes - the heavy ability makes vehicle crush "crushable" things, you can talk to Draku when he comes back, thats his job

No - the retaken country code is currently broken, so Solver would need to fix this for future versions

Yes - you can use a point defense system fo UFOs. Keep the following 2 bugs in mid though. 1. A UFO can only have 1 missile targeting system - otherwise its a CTD. 2. There can never be 2 projectiles on the map from the same weapon - otherwise its a CTD. Make the projectiles fast and with a high turn value.

No - you dont need to restore any internal script folder, the game creates itself aproppriately to your current modloader

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@Solver

Perhaps the suggested nerfs for the shootdown bonuses shouldn't be made and just increasing the bonus for completing the GC missions is a better way. That will at least give GC missions some more significance when it comes to relations but still not penalize the player if they decide to skip GC missions.

When it comes to the dropships - making them invulnerable might just be a more simple and elegant solution. They don't really have an effect on the air war and it's just bothersome when they get shot down and the RNG isn't any fun. Is this something that is possible currently by massively increasing their health or will X:CE have to add this feature?

When it comes to alien HP and armour rebalance I was thinking of making it fairly easy to understand visually. If the unit wears armour visually, they have armour, and the more it covers the body, the better it is. Robotic units should be generally more armoured than the biological units as well. Frail and feeble looking aliens like Ceasan and Harridans should have low HP, while more though ones like Sebillians or Wraiths (with their subdermal plating) should have more HP. I was thinking of editing the Lore+ class analysis Xenopedia entries as well for more clarity and fix some of the inconsistencies in it (like Ceasan non-combatants having armour according to it).

You are also right that it's probably not a good idea to make every weapon viable throughout the whole game. I'm thinking of keeping the main weapons progression but changing the transition from Plasma to MAGs. Plasma weapons could deal more base damage but have less mitigation, while MAGs have less base damage but more mitigation. This gives you both energy and kinetic forms of damage in the late game and Plasmas would excel more against less armoured units, while MAGs are more effective against the more armoured robotic units for example.

I'm not sure if I should keep the Smart Weapons though. They offer different things like less TU cost, more accuracy and higher reaction modifiers in exchange for various penalties like movement causing lower accuracy, being heavier and having smaller bursts etc. They might be superfluous, so tell me what you think.

If I add an anti psionic armour it should probably be ineffective against Praetors. I'll probably go for the route of it losing its effectivity after a certain number of psionic attacks.

Instead of adding new alien roles I'm thinking of maybe making it neccesary to capture the non-combatants before being able to decode UFO datacores. I'm also considering making the new "utility" weapons tied to the various alien races in some way.

When it comes to alien weapons I was thinking of them being an early game alternative - use the true and tested ballistics or the powerful but penalized alien weapons. The alien grenades are also neat since they're the only anti-personal grenades that deal incendiary damage and explode on contact. They obviously should get replaced when you develop your own weapons after studying them. Perhaps make them auto-sell after that to reduce micromanaging? Though I'm not sure if it's possible to use replaceitem on them to make them use the "capped" behaviour again without causing bugs, will test it.

@Charon

1. I'm not sure we're thinking of the same thing. I mean the setting for map tile spectres called "Crushable (Heavy Units)". It's never used in vanilla Xenonauts so I'm not sure of its actual function but what I hope it does is make it only crushable by vehicles which has the heavy tag. The Scimitar is the only vehicle with that tag but it doesn't seem to be used for anything.

2/3. Thanks for the heads up!

4. I've experienced that the UI changes remain when I disable UI mods so that's why I added that. Deleting the internal scripts folder fixes it for me.

Edited by Policenaut

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Adding damage types and resistances to the game is a big task. More armored looking guy will have more armor as logical as you said but against which damage type? Using MAG weapons because they got more mitigation would worth it when it has lower damage? Caesans and harridans got nearly no armor and looking so fragile, so how will you balance them compared to tough sebs and androns?.. I try to say, there is many things on the table when you go in..

If you want fast new alien roles, X-Division got any color combination for use.. there is a difference between original Xcom and Xenonauts research system. I would like to have able to use one item (a corpse or stunned alien body in this case) more then ones at researches. Like you got a technician alive and you get your research and it's done for Xenonauts. At xcom, you can get a research for every stunned alien you captured and every time you get another UFO info from it and if there is nothing left, you just get nothing. @Solver ?

Dropship danger is not bad as you talk i think.. like every choice got different risks in this game, it's a risk too. Just send a fighter squadron with it, if you think it's in danger. Or just send fighters ahead and let them take agro of alien fighters. I think the alien fighter mission should be separated from mission % calculation and we should give the number directly per wave, like 1-3 fighter spawn per wave..@Solver ?

Crushable tiles are in the game for heavy units like Androns, Reapers, heavy armored Xenonauts units and vehicles. For 1 tile units there is not much problem but for vehicles it's very big problem because most of the maps got so many little objects which are not crushable. This makes your vehicles mostly useless at urban maps because you can't go far from your drop point and you need to destroy those lame tiles at every mission to move your vehicle. It's same for hover vehicles too because even they can hover over some objects, it's still very limited. For this reason, X-Division maps got nearly every mid sized tiles crushable. 

UI changes remains because the game takes the UI files from internal folders and game does not update them everytime for "reasons".. so it's always better to delete it when you edit UI files.

Btw i am interested your 2 weapon vehicle project. Vehicles are hard to balance. Xenonauts tried to use vehicles as an oversized scout units rather then a battle aspect. X-Com used them like that too at old days but XCom ones were 2x2 scouts with some limited weapons. At Xenonauts they are 3x3 and as i said about maps, they can't fit to map to scout anything at all.. i tried 1x1 vehicles and failed badly :).. 

 

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2 hours ago, drages said:

If you want fast new alien roles, X-Division got any color combination for use.. there is a difference between original Xcom and Xenonauts research system. I would like to have able to use one item (a corpse or stunned alien body in this case) more then ones at researches. Like you got a technician alive and you get your research and it's done for Xenonauts. At xcom, you can get a research for every stunned alien you captured and every time you get another UFO info from it and if there is nothing left, you just get nothing. @Solver ?

A simple progress bar with repeatable researches which gives certain points seem to be the most viable variant of this idea. Other researches can have an array variable counter, like "needs" 10 progress points for variable X.

But that doesnt really have much to do with this thread.

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On 29/11/2016 at 7:17 AM, Solver said:

I am very undecided on using alien weapons. It makes very little sense lore-wise. A weapon that's literally designed for a different species isn't going to be as effective in human hands as a human weapon, and so it's hard to imagine why your soldiers would want to use the alien weapons. You have to balance it, like you said, with giving TU and accuracy penalties to represent that they're not human technology, but at that point, why use them?

Human soldiers did use alien weapons before Xenonaues is established, in the novella, and for pretty good reasons - they deal higher damage and are immediately available.
But then, the elite soldiers also hit a lot with those weapons, too...

Edited by Sheepy

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While watching this

it actually struck me that X-Division has a point defensive system in place, so you can take a look at how it is set up for your own design wishes.

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Sorry for the lack of news but I'm getting close to releasing the first version of XXP (mostly playtesting, fixing bugs and creating the sprites for Wraith Leaders at the moment). Just wanted to get some input on whether I should wait for X:CE to get updated with the multiplePerTurn fix for gas effects, which allows for making stun gas damage every time you touch a gas tile, instead of only taking damage once and being immune for the rest of the turn.

I could disable that feature for now and re-add it when X:CE gets updated with the fix, or I could direct people to download the WIP .exe Solver uploaded which fixes that bug, but at the same time introduces a music bug. What do you guys think?

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12 hours ago, Policenaut said:

Sorry for the lack of news but I'm getting close to releasing the first version of XXP (mostly playtesting, fixing bugs and creating the sprites for Wraith Leaders at the moment). Just wanted to get some input on whether I should wait for X:CE to get updated with the multiplePerTurn fix for gas effects, which allows for making stun gas damage every time you touch a gas tile, instead of only taking damage once and being immune for the rest of the turn.

I could disable that feature for now and re-add it when X:CE gets updated with the fix, or I could direct people to download the WIP .exe Solver uploaded which fixes that bug, but at the same time introduces a music bug. What do you guys think?

I'd say it all depends how close the next (expected / planned) Community-Edition-update-release date would be.

If we are talking of several months (when exaggerating), then I'd say the temporary feature-disabling might be worth it.
But otherwise I personally am totally okay to wait few extra weeks for this (community-)expansion-pack.

Edited by Pave

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Yeah I'll probably disable the gas rebalance for now then and re-add it later, oh and forget about those wraith leader sprites I mentioned before, that was way too much work (hundreds image files that would take way too many hours to edit, which I'd rather spend playtesting and fixing bugs).

What's left is mostly just finding any bugs that I might've not noticed before. Hopefully I might be able to release the first version near the end of January.

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2 hours ago, Policenaut said:

Yeah I'll probably disable the gas rebalance for now then and re-add it later, oh and forget about those wraith leader sprites I mentioned before, that was way too much work (hundreds image files that would take way too many hours to edit, which I'd rather spend playtesting and fixing bugs).

What's left is mostly just finding any bugs that I might've not noticed before. Hopefully I might be able to release the first version near the end of January.

what do u need about sprites_ maybe i can help.

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On 1/14/2017 at 9:52 AM, drages said:

@Solver lost his interest again i think. There is no word from him for days..

Maybe I am taking a well-deserved winter vacation?

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9 hours ago, Solver said:

Maybe I am taking a well-deserved winter vacation?

But you made us miss you. 

What can we do without you?! 

We are waiting your return as charged and ready to create awesome things! 

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Well, last I checked you still have a lot of work to do with X:CE 0.34.2, so keep fighting ;)

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23 minutes ago, Solver said:

Well, last I checked you still have a lot of work to do with X:CE 0.34.2, so keep fighting ;)

We finished with everything.

 

The only things we have to do now are the ones which dont work, AKA gas and the country retaken code.

 

I dont know if i was dreaming, but did you actually say something about retaking xenonaut bases after they have been lost, and that it actually works ?

Oh right, and i almost forgot about special missions, when are they coming :) ?

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We worked like [animals that have a reputation to work hard] and because of YOUR 0.34.2 we have now 2 gb of game content ready and thats all your fault.

 

... if you get what im saying :D.

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1 hour ago, Charon said:

The only things we have to do now are the ones which dont work, AKA gas and the country retaken code.

Works in the miniupdate I posted somewhere though, right?

 

1 hour ago, Charon said:

I dont know if i was dreaming, but did you actually say something about retaking xenonaut bases after they have been lost, and that it actually works ?

Works as far as I know.

 

1 hour ago, Charon said:

Oh right, and i almost forgot about special missions, when are they coming

In a future version if there is one :)

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16 minutes ago, Solver said:

Works in the miniupdate I posted somewhere though, right?

 

Works as far as I know.

 

In a future version if there is one :)

I don't remember that your minipatch repaired the retake country with that. As charon said, we worked really hard even we lost 2 member (MIA)... We are waiting you publish a version which is working with the new content officially. 

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37 minutes ago, Solver said:

Works as far as I know.

Are we talking about retaking xenonauts bases ? I have never seen such a thing, anywhere, and im sure we wouldnt have missed such a point in our whole development. Where is the code ? And how does it function ?

 

18 minutes ago, drages said:

I don't remember that your minipatch repaired the retake country with that. As charon said, we worked really hard even we lost 2 member (MIA)... We are waiting you publish a version which is working with the new content officially. 

+1.

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5 minutes ago, Charon said:

Are we talking about retaking xenonauts bases ? I have never seen such a thing, anywhere, and im sure we wouldnt have missed such a point in our whole development. Where is the code ? And how does it function ?

I don't have access to that now. Check gameconfig.xml, there should be a section with a variable for it. xenonautBaseRetakeInterval, or xenonautBaseRetakeWindow, something like that. Possible that I missed adding it to the modding guide and so it's only as some note somewhere :) I of course do not remember the finer details but the idea is that a lost Xenonaut base turns into an alien base, and then if you attack that base successfully within X hours (defined in the xml), you get the base back. Personnel are killed and airplanes destroyed though.

29 minutes ago, drages said:

We are waiting you publish a version which is working with the new content officially.

This is a good idea. I suppose it's also a good idea for one more small release that is only bugfixes perhaps.

  • Like 1

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20 minutes ago, Solver said:

This is a good idea. I suppose it's also a good idea for one more small release that is only bugfixes perhaps.

We don't want to add your XCE files to our mods because it's not right, unrespectful and confusing. So when you return here, we can talk some possibilities around fixes and have a clean xce version..

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