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Chris

Xenonauts-2 Version 0.14.0 (Public Combat Test) Released!

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This version of Xenonauts 2 is a free public test build, released free because it is still an early build and we don't yet think we can justify charging for it; full details on where to get the build can be found in this thread. 

This will be the last free build for a while (we predict 6-8 weeks) as we are pausing the releases to allow us to finish the strategy / ground combat merge. The more work we do on the merge, the more difficult it is to release standalone ground combat missions - they are becoming increasingly reliant on the strategy layer, as the changelog below will probably illustrate! 

Additional details on our plans are in this thread here: https://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/index.php?/topic/14509-xenonauts-2-july-update-pausing-the-public-builds/

CHANGELOG:

  • We've added local forces to the game (although they only appear on large UFO maps). They don't really have proper AI yet so they'll just stand there like a turret and shoot at nearby aliens, but it's good to have them loading into maps correctly etc.
  • There's a new highlighting method that highlights individual tiles from multi-tile objects, so targeting a road no longer lights up the whole 5x5 section but just the 1x1 tile under your cursor. It's also got a funky visual effect on it which I'm not completely sold on ... but it's fine for now.
  • "Miss" grenades no longer hit adjacent cover when thrown
  • The red ammo counter text for an empty weapons now changes back to white once reloaded
  • We've fixed a hang when the grenade launcher soldier blows himself up
  • Unfortunately the mission end debrief screen is gone - it's now part of the strategy layer, because that's where most of the persistent soldier / item data is stored after the merge.

FUN STUFF THAT EXISTS BUT CAN'T BE SEEN:

  • Soldier portraits are working and providing a lot of cool facial and ethnic randomisation for both genders, but sadly you can't see them because the soldier data is stored on the strategy layer.
  • Multi-level LOS and climbing up ladders is now working, but with our urban maps not yet finished you can't playtest that either.

Most of the work this last couple of weeks has been on assets rather than game logic. The soldier portraits were initially a problem because they have so many layers that they took up a ridiculous 8GB of memory when we first put them in the game, which necessitated implementing a sprite packing system to get that down to a more manageable 100MB or so. That took a few days to set up, though.

Then we were onto the climbing and multi-level LOS stuff, which involved hooking up the climb animations and getting them to transition and move properly (animations are always time-consuming in our action system). The multi-level LOS had some additional implications for targeting, because suddenly the cursor has to deal with lots of objects on different levels that can be blocking each other due to the camera perspective. Getting the local forces / civilians into the game also required work with regards to spawn points, adding a new AI "player" turn, and fixing crashes and other issues when unarmed units were spawned. Lots of work.

I've also done a lot of work on the strategy layer again and I'm pretty happy with the progress I've made on the design. It's been really hard to retain all the key elements of the X1 strategy layer but also add more choice and ground mission variety to it. I think I've now got a framework that balances the need to upgrade and improve your base, spread out your interceptor coverage of the world, research new technology, protect individual regions and keep overall world panic down ... whilst also ensuring that the ground combat missions aren't just UFO Crash Site missions all the time, and that rushing interceptors isn't so overpowered as it was in the first game. It all still needs a lot of balancing and tweaking, but I'm keen to show it off and get some community feedback on what works and what doesn't work!

I'll close by saying thanks to everyone that has given us bug reports over the last 14 builds (some have been far more detailed than we expected) as it really has helped us a lot in improving the gameplay experience. Hopefully we'll see you in 6-8 weeks for the arrival of the strategy layer!

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Looks like another hotfix is going to be needed - there's a problem on lower graphics settings where the screen ends up being inverted, plus some other issues too. We'll hopefully put out a patch today or tomorrow at the latest.

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