Chris

Xenonauts-2 January 2018 Update!

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Happy new year everyone! Hope you all had a great Christmas / festive season! We've been back at work for roughly a week now, so it's time for a quick update on what we've been working on recently and will be working on in the near future.

Development Status:
The game is continuing to progress towards being feature complete. Our priority is to have a working skeleton of the game that you can play from start to finish,  albeit with obvious gaps where there is missing content (missing aliens / research art and descriptions / not enough maps / etc). I've played a lot of "Early Access" games recently and that definitely seems to be the expectation these days - people need something they can properly play, even if there's missing content because there are only a few maps / a limited number of characters / etc.

If you've not been following the project in much detail, here's where we currently are: the public builds show that the ground combat missions already have all of the fundamental mechanics in place. They're still a bit rough and there are a number of non-critical features that still need to be finished ... but in most cases you can have a nice little battle with the aliens without there being any game-breaking issues.

The strategy layer has a Geoscape that spawns UFOs / ground missions, interceptors that can be used to shoot down those UFOs (with autoresolved air combat) to make crash sites, a base where you can build structures and house your staff and soldiers, a screen where you can hire new staff, base stores that log all the items recovered from battle, an armory screen where you can equip your soldiers, and a working research tree that unlocks new tech and awards items / pops up a research report when the research project is complete, etc. So lots is already working but it's definitely feels less "complete" than the ground combat.

The join between the strategy layer and the ground combat is somewhat complete. It correctly loads the big things like the appropriate mission objective / map / aliens / Xenonauts / equipment loadouts when you start a ground mission, and we're also at the stage now where the models are correctly displaying the appropriate gender, ethnicity and hair colour to match the portrait. However, tracking of other important things (e.g. post-battle item recovery and soldier XP gain) is not yet functional. 

The TL;DR here is that we're close to having a skeleton of the entire game working that can be played from start to finish. Sure, it'll be missing a lot of content and non-essential features, but it would still mark a big milestone for the project and it's really not too far away.

Design Update:
The development process for Xenonauts-2 started with a lot of big ideas about how we could change all sorts of things in almost every area of the game, but over time the design has pulled back closer to original game. Generally we implement some cool new totally features that we're really excited about, but after a few months of experimentation we usually end up picking a few bits we like and then merging them back into the old Xenonauts 1 system instead.

I think this works out pretty well. A good example of this is the "unique character" system we were talking about a few months ago, where every person you hire was a unique character who could fill any role in your organisation (as they had a competency score in everything from combat to research). I won't bore you with the reasons why that turned out to be less awesome than it sounded, but it did - so the result has been for us to move the design back towards having separate soldiers, scientists and engineers whilst retaining elements of the "unique character" system.

Basically, your staff all have a competency score for their role and you can hire them based on "templates" that control their starting stats - e.g. soldiers have Riflemen or Snipers or Assault templates (likely available at different veterancy levels) etc, all of which have different starting stats or traits that make them better suited to that role. Similarly if you want to hire a scientist, you can choose a talented scientist who costs more but produces more science per turn vs. a cheaper one who is less competent. Essentially it's the Xenonauts 1 system of recruitment but expanded to allow you more strategic choices and more control over who you hire. Several other areas have expanded in a similar way, although for the sake of brevity I won't list them all here.

Whilst certain things have been dropped and other things have been shifted around, in many ways the picture taking shape isn't dramatically different to the first Xenonauts. I suspect if some of the people who ragequit the forum during the idea discussion phase had stayed the course they would have been quite pleased to see the way the game is turning out; I think we're going to end up with the classic Xenonauts feel but with improved graphics, a more cohesive setting, more varied ground missions and a number of new / more complex Geoscape systems that will allow you a bit more freedom about how you approach the strategy side of things.

I'm looking forward to showing some stuff off in the next few months when we finally launch our Kickstarter and then launch on Early Access. There's still quite a lot of development work left to do, but it's not long until the community can start pre-ordering and getting properly involved in the process. Lots to look forward to in 2018 then! :)

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2 hours ago, Chris said:

I think we're going to end up with the classic Xenonauts feel but with improved graphics, a more cohesive setting, more varied ground missions and a number of new / more complex Geoscape systems that will allow you a bit more freedom about how you approach the strategy side of things

Well, this is a vision of an end-product, and this is the most important thing about this whole process; it's only a failure if we wouldn't had any process at all to begin with (or worst, no documentations).

Considering there was a lot things changes to begin with (especially the new game-engine from which you basically re-build the game "ground up" ), I personally am happy with the "Xenonauts - Re:Coded / Remake"-edition, since all the experiences can be now used for next project alongside with all the possible "think-tank" material.


In a way, I have a feeling "Xenonauts 3" could possibly be the "Apocalypse of Xenonauts" (due the drastic changes / departure), while "Xenonauts 2" is possibly simply going to be "(Open)Xcom - Contact Playback" (mainly because no underwater-battlescape, which basically was a rather large expansion-map-pack to "(Open)Xcom", in my opinion)
((also jokingly saying "We kind of ended up doing the "Open Xenonauts" ourselves before you lot; semi-sorry")).
 

 

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I remember from X1 that if you destroyed UFO over the sea or ocean, crash site was not generated. How about changing it in X2, so add some sea missions?

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I like the idea of Xenonauts 2 improving the original X1 with better graphics, random maps and some improvements.

X1 is a successfull sucessor of the original XCOM and I thing this is the correct path, rather than lose the essence of Xenonauts game and try to create something like firaxis Xcom series.

Simply If X1 had random maps, I would play it continuously.

Edited by juanval

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Happy new year indeed! It is nice to hear that things are coming together. Although I would put myself in the experimental-camp rather than the revamp-group so I'm a little sad to hear that innovations are being reined in. Nevertheless, I'm sure that the end product will further the particular Xenonauts charm but look that bit nicer and run that bit smoother. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.

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Oh, there'll be plenty of new stuff to play with too - it'll just be within the confines of a fairly familiar game rather than dramatically changing the mechanics :)

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Yes, yes, that's all very well and fine, but will we get area denial weapons and proximity detectors?  :cool:

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20 hours ago, StellarRat said:

Yes, yes, that's all very well and fine, but will we get area denial weapons and proximity detectors?  :cool:

Both those things sound like you're asking for proximity grenades ... in which case, yes, we're planning to put them in the game.

The idea I'm currently quite excited about is giving the player access to more fun tools that semi-break the game, and then use Alenium to limit them. Essentially Alien Alloys are required to build most types of advanced tech, but certain powerful technology also requires Alenium to use. Each recovered Alenium cell is basically a mini-reactor and isn't consumed when used, but you're limited by the amount of Alenium you can recover from the aliens.

For example, if a Laser Rifle uses one Alenium and you've got two Alenium in the base stores, you can only take two Laser Rifles on any mission. If you build Predator armour and that also requires one Alenium to use, you've got to drop at least one of the Laser Rifles if you want to use a Predator suit. There's also a less powerful variant of most things (e.g. Wolf armour) that doesn't require Alenium to use but lacks the potentially unbalanced features.

This means you can do some cool stuff without totally unbalancing the game - which was my big worry in the first game when thinking about adding "cool" tech.

Maybe one of the armours grants the wearer the ability to instantly teleport into any (squad-sight) visible tile once per battle. Pretty powerful, right? But is it more powerful than a personal shield generator? Or a motion detector? Or a laser rifle? You've only got limited Alenium so you can't have it all. This feeds into the research choices too - is it really worth spending time adding an extra charge to the teleporter pack, even though only two of your troops can use them at any given time? Would it be better to research improved Wolf Armour so everyone has a slightly better chance of surviving the next plasma bolt in the face?

Of course, there's a risk that in a few months I might have shelved the idea entirely - but hopefully this gives an example of how I feel we can make the game quite different without actually *fundamentally* changing the rules like we would have to if we made all the characters unique.

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I will not speak about "the right" or "the wrong," but I think you have made "a pretty good" choice here. :) However, it's just not that clear anymore which ideas will be kept of the previous discussions... Will anything be kept?

Is it still the idea that missions are secretive? (No real preference here, but a secret organisation could explain e.g. less competent shooting skills as discussed)

Will there be raids on/by human factions? (I hope so)

Will there be air battles again? (Not necessary for me)

Will there be many aliens or only one special alien with human-like helpers in tactical missions? (Maybe a combination of the two is possible?)

...

I guess many of the design choices will become clear pretty soon :)

At least now we will eventually see the full potential of that face generator... I'm pretty curious about that... I liked the results from the demo, although indeed I think they are more suited for generic profiles than for set profiles (Jagged Alliance style). Anyway, I'm still curious where this is all leading to. And I like the fact that we will be able to hire more or less experienced personnel... seems like a great combination of Xcom3: Apocalypse and Jagged Alliance... I hope there will be the occasional bargain also. ;) CheerS

 

 

Edited by Viking1978

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4 hours ago, Chris said:

You've only got limited Alenium so you can't have it all. This feeds into the research choices too -

Using Alenium cells like this sounds super cool. It's a bit like a slot system, but it fits well with the lore. It also gives marked progression to the player; hard starter missions should be significantly easier with a few Alenium cells. The research tying into it I think will promote replayability. Game 1 I could research offensive uses for Alenium, Game 2 could be defensive. Game 3 three I don't use them at all. 

I think this subsystem can be made into a very important, flexible part of the game. For example, here's one take: having an Alenium cell in battle is a leap in power akin to having a super soldier in battle. Losing a cell would be devastating, but unlike soldiers, you don't really have more on standby. Instead of the number of cells being a limiting factor, the "charging station" back at the base could be the limiting factor. You need an alien charger to keep the cells topped off for battle; they lose power otherwise, as a sort of safety feature (or whatever other reason). Raiding bases and big UFOs might yield charging stations, and gives incentive and unique loot to these raids. The fact that the cells need to be charged after use would force the player to carefully choose when to deploy the cells. Not every mission will run all the cells, but you bet that base raid will. And it will be nuts. The cooldown also makes it so the first Alenium cell doesn't suddenly, eternally make the game easier. Heck, maybe these charging stations are a dime a dozen, but the charge time for the cells is a matter of weeks. Maybe certain techs drain the cells more, and so you can run a laser weapon every battle, but only your exo-battle armor once a week. 

Whatever the implementation is, I like the idea of allowing game-breaking tech in the game, at a cost. 

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Alenium sounds good, brings those choices into the game to 'moderate' the fun. Also, it doesn't even sound ridiculous from a science-energy perspective, mini-reactors are perfectly feasible and would be exactly the kind of thing needed to boost laser technology or the like. Although the obvious use for them would be to make light sabres...

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With the full understanding that the Geoscape is a work in progress, I think it's maybe a decent time for a first teaser screenshot of it :)

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Sounds like things are developing well. Is this a good point to give another shout-out for more mission types and secondary objectives?

 

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18 hours ago, Ogilvy the Astronomer said:

Sounds like things are developing well. Is this a good point to give another shout-out for more mission types and secondary objectives?

Yeah, so for the sake of clarity here (no doubt I'll lay this out again in a proper post later) the first draft of the Geoscape contains all of the same mission types as the original Xenonauts, so:

  • Crashed / Landed UFO site
  • Terror site
  • Alien base attack
  • Xenonaut base defence

In addition, we now have the following new mission types working in the game:

  • Capture resources (a mission where you have to pick up a couple of specific items and get them back to the dropship, currently used to recover Alenium) 
  • VIP Assassination / Capture
  • VIP Rescue 

We're not currently using the VIP missions but we can hopefully integrate them later, as they are already fully functional - I just don't know where they fit into the strategy layer yet. In terms of the setting, we still have the whole "secret war" thing going on but ultimately I can write the final setting around the mission types we choose to include.

 

On 1/13/2018 at 3:42 PM, Solver said:

With the full understanding that the Geoscape is a work in progress, I think it's maybe a decent time for a first teaser screenshot of it :)

We're getting close to having it functioning so you might see something soon. I'm a little reluctant to show it off though because it looks quite similar to the first Xenonauts even if the mechanics are somewhat different ... mostly because we re-used some of the same art to save prototyping time and have yet to properly replace it.

 

On 1/11/2018 at 7:09 PM, Shoes said:

Using Alenium cells like this sounds super cool. It's a bit like a slot system, but it fits well with the lore. It also gives marked progression to the player; hard starter missions should be significantly easier with a few Alenium cells. The research tying into it I think will promote replayability. Game 1 I could research offensive uses for Alenium, Game 2 could be defensive. Game 3 three I don't use them at all. 

I think this subsystem can be made into a very important, flexible part of the game. For example, here's one take: having an Alenium cell in battle is a leap in power akin to having a super soldier in battle. Losing a cell would be devastating, but unlike soldiers, you don't really have more on standby. Instead of the number of cells being a limiting factor, the "charging station" back at the base could be the limiting factor. You need an alien charger to keep the cells topped off for battle; they lose power otherwise, as a sort of safety feature (or whatever other reason). Raiding bases and big UFOs might yield charging stations, and gives incentive and unique loot to these raids. The fact that the cells need to be charged after use would force the player to carefully choose when to deploy the cells. Not every mission will run all the cells, but you bet that base raid will. And it will be nuts. The cooldown also makes it so the first Alenium cell doesn't suddenly, eternally make the game easier. Heck, maybe these charging stations are a dime a dozen, but the charge time for the cells is a matter of weeks. Maybe certain techs drain the cells more, and so you can run a laser weapon every battle, but only your exo-battle armor once a week. 

I'm open to tweaking the Alenium system once it's in the game, but for now I'm planning to keep it fairly simple so the effects are predictable and I can evaluate it in semi-isolation. Once we know how all the new systems all work together we can try expanding them out and developing them further.

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On 1/11/2018 at 5:54 AM, Chris said:

Both those things sound like you're asking for proximity grenades ... in which case, yes, we're planning to put them in the game.

I actually meant proximity grenades and a motion detector or some other device that allows you to detect hidden units even if it's just a camera that can look around corners or under doors.  Sorry I wasn't really clear on that.   A recon drone would be really cool!  I also really hope we'll get some more chemical or bio weapons other than just stun gas and smoke.   Fire weapons didn't make it into the last game, <hint, hint> :D.   Of course, that assumes that the alien AI is smart not to just sit in one place and just die and also that the will aliens have similar capabilities or at least defenses against them.  One could argue that the Reaper is a bio weapons I suppose.

Edited by StellarRat

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Hello!

I have one simple question. Geoscape - turn-based or not?

The air battle will be auto-resolved. Ok, this is good. But what about time progression in Geoscape? Turns? Or we will have another turn-based game with real-time mini-game implementation. Which is simply stupid. Stupid - that is my opinion, beside being a fact.

So, Geoscape - turn-based or not?

Thank you!

Rosen, Bulgaria

Edited by Rosen

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Thanks Chris, for giving us an idea of what mission types might be like. The only thing I would ask about mission types is that killing aliens/human actors be more a means to an end, rather than an end in of itself. While the elimination of enemy pieces forms the fundamental goal of many games, we did all that in X1. Perhaps it's time to get a little more sophisticated about it?

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7 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

 

7 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

 

7 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

 

7 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

 

7 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

 

7 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

 

On 1/15/2018 at 2:47 PM, Chris said:

 

Edited by Rosen

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7 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

Thanks Chris, for giving us an idea of what mission types might be like. The only thing I would ask about mission types is that killing aliens/human actors be more a means to an end, rather than an end in of itself. While the elimination of enemy pieces forms the fundamental goal of many games, we did all that in X1. Perhaps it's time to get a little more sophisticated about it?

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10 minutes ago, Rosen said:
7 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

Thanks Chris, for giving us an idea of what mission types might be like. The only thing I would ask about mission types is that killing aliens/human actors be more a means to an end, rather than an end in of itself. While the elimination of enemy pieces forms the fundamental goal of many games, we did all that in X1. Perhaps it's time to get a little more sophisticated about it?

Get a little more sophisticated and think about the fundamentals. Make the Geoscape turn-based. Make all the game turn-based. Why you make auto-resloved air battle? Because you feel that is the right way. So, go all the way up to the point where you have a legitimate game. Make the Geoscape turn-based.

(Do you imagine Chess or Backgammon, or Go played in real-time?!)

Edited by Rosen

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So, Max_Caine, get a little more sophisticated and think about the fundametals???

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On 1/9/2018 at 8:04 PM, Chris said:

Happy new year everyone! Hope you all had a great Christmas / festive season! We've been back at work for roughly a week now, so it's time for a quick update on what we've been working on recently and will be working on in the near future.

Development Status:
The game is continuing to progress towards being feature complete. Our priority is to have a working skeleton of the game that you can play from start to finish,  albeit with obvious gaps where there is missing content (missing aliens / research art and descriptions / not enough maps / etc). I've played a lot of "Early Access" games recently and that definitely seems to be the expectation these days - people need something they can properly play, even if there's missing content because there are only a few maps / a limited number of characters / etc.

If you've not been following the project in much detail, here's where we currently are: the public builds show that the ground combat missions already have all of the fundamental mechanics in place. They're still a bit rough and there are a number of non-critical features that still need to be finished ... but in most cases you can have a nice little battle with the aliens without there being any game-breaking issues.

The strategy layer has a Geoscape that spawns UFOs / ground missions, interceptors that can be used to shoot down those UFOs (with autoresolved air combat) to make crash sites, a base where you can build structures and house your staff and soldiers, a screen where you can hire new staff, base stores that log all the items recovered from battle, an armory screen where you can equip your soldiers, and a working research tree that unlocks new tech and awards items / pops up a research report when the research project is complete, etc. So lots is already working but it's definitely feels less "complete" than the ground combat.

The join between the strategy layer and the ground combat is somewhat complete. It correctly loads the big things like the appropriate mission objective / map / aliens / Xenonauts / equipment loadouts when you start a ground mission, and we're also at the stage now where the models are correctly displaying the appropriate gender, ethnicity and hair colour to match the portrait. However, tracking of other important things (e.g. post-battle item recovery and soldier XP gain) is not yet functional. 

The TL;DR here is that we're close to having a skeleton of the entire game working that can be played from start to finish. Sure, it'll be missing a lot of content and non-essential features, but it would still mark a big milestone for the project and it's really not too far away.

Design Update:
The development process for Xenonauts-2 started with a lot of big ideas about how we could change all sorts of things in almost every area of the game, but over time the design has pulled back closer to original game. Generally we implement some cool new totally features that we're really excited about, but after a few months of experimentation we usually end up picking a few bits we like and then merging them back into the old Xenonauts 1 system instead.

I think this works out pretty well. A good example of this is the "unique character" system we were talking about a few months ago, where every person you hire was a unique character who could fill any role in your organisation (as they had a competency score in everything from combat to research). I won't bore you with the reasons why that turned out to be less awesome than it sounded, but it did - so the result has been for us to move the design back towards having separate soldiers, scientists and engineers whilst retaining elements of the "unique character" system.

Basically, your staff all have a competency score for their role and you can hire them based on "templates" that control their starting stats - e.g. soldiers have Riflemen or Snipers or Assault templates (likely available at different veterancy levels) etc, all of which have different starting stats or traits that make them better suited to that role. Similarly if you want to hire a scientist, you can choose a talented scientist who costs more but produces more science per turn vs. a cheaper one who is less competent. Essentially it's the Xenonauts 1 system of recruitment but expanded to allow you more strategic choices and more control over who you hire. Several other areas have expanded in a similar way, although for the sake of brevity I won't list them all here.

Whilst certain things have been dropped and other things have been shifted around, in many ways the picture taking shape isn't dramatically different to the first Xenonauts. I suspect if some of the people who ragequit the forum during the idea discussion phase had stayed the course they would have been quite pleased to see the way the game is turning out; I think we're going to end up with the classic Xenonauts feel but with improved graphics, a more cohesive setting, more varied ground missions and a number of new / more complex Geoscape systems that will allow you a bit more freedom about how you approach the strategy side of things.

I'm looking forward to showing some stuff off in the next few months when we finally launch our Kickstarter and then launch on Early Access. There's still quite a lot of development work left to do, but it's not long until the community can start pre-ordering and getting properly involved in the process. Lots to look forward to in 2018 then! :)

Many, many words... Just tell us if we have a turn-based or reflex-based game. Talking about the Geoscape. The first Xenonauts you said you made it in real-time because you wanted to made a copy of the game of mr Gollop from 1993. And now you said you want to make the game like you want. So? You made the air-combat auto-resolved. Just this? And left time-progression in real time with some strange time controls like an old cassette-player from 1990? Pause, forward, fast forward? WTF???

Edited by Rosen

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