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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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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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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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On 20/01/2018 at 9:41 AM, Rosen said:

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

Rosen - I've removed your other posts because you don't need to ask the same question five times. Also, while I know that English isn't your first language, some of your later posts seemed to be quite aggressive. If you want a question answered then please just ask a question politely like everyone else, and you'll probably get an answer (although we're a busy team and we don't always answer immediately).

Also, please only use the "Report Post" function to report offensive or spam posts.

To answer your question - yes, the Geoscape is currently turn-based where each turn is one day. However we still have to make a final decision about whether we are going to keep this setup in the final game, because the real-time Geoscape from the first game certainly felt more immersive and responsive in certain ways. That's a decision we'll have to make when the game is more complete and we can properly test it, though.

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You can make the Geoscape immersive and responsive in turn-based. Real-time mode is not the answer for a legitimate game. Just keep it turn-based and my posts will be peacefull, not aggressive ;) 

Thank you for the answer.

Rosen, Bulgaria

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Well, i hate to be the naysayer, 'cause those are never well liked, but someone's gotta do it.

I think it is fair to assume that the AI you will write for this game will, on equal footing, in general loose hard to even a moderately skilled human player. Of course, since this is not a rogue-like game, the final expectation is that the player should win, but it also should be at least somewhat close. The problem i see is whether you will be able to / have the time to write your AI to use all that new special tech you are thinking up currently. Even disregarding the argument of reason that since the aliens are working with human collaborators (and the ones with more resources at that) and thus the AI enemies should have access to any equipment that the human player has, from a gameplay perspective, if you give the player tools that the AI cannot use, then you are further disadvantaging an already tactically inferiour opponent. You are essentially shoehorning yourself in giving the AI even more extreme stats - which makes little sense if 80% or more of your opponents are human collaborators, but even more problematically pushes you back towards one-shot-kill scenarios or opponents that are so tanky that it takes half an hour to take them down. Ultimately, i think in the design process, the first question for any tech should be: "Can we write code to make our AI use that?" If the answer is no, then that tech probably shouldn't be in the game.

As an example, the "proximity grenades" which i assume are something like throwable mines. There's basically two options: one is that those mines are visible, in which case they are usually more of an area denial weapon. Possible, but you'd have to look into how that affects AI pathing. The other is that the proximity grenades are invisible, which means that every now and again while walking over the map, one of your guys will go boom. Not exactly my idea of fun if there is no counterplay.

The teleporting wraiths from Xenonauts 1 were for instance an example where the AI just really couldn't handle the tech. They didn't use their teleports strategically based on information the computer already had, to for instance make a coordinated pincer movement, reinforce attacked aliens or flee from a dangerous situation, they just randomly teleported around the map. They were for me amongst the least threatening of all aliens, since if i ever ran into trouble, i could just hunker down, sit around for a while, and wait for them to teleport in front of me where my soldiers would mow them down. Rather no teleporters for anyone than that.

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The plan is that the aliens don't really get to use the "active" advanced tech that would require advanced AI, like teleporting.

I don't think it'll require the aliens needing to be much tankier than before, but we'll have to see - remember this cool tech is counterbalanced by the fact that advanced weapons like lasers can't just be given to everyone in your team immediately because you won't have enough Alenium to do it, so your squad will likely have a few guys using advanced tech while others are still using more basic tech. I'm not sure it'll make your team more powerful overall, but it means you might have to think more carefully about where your position your stronger / weaker troops than you did in Xenonauts 1 (where everyone was basically the same).

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Hello again, Chris.
You said in your website that you want the air-combat use the same skills like as the rest of the game. Tactical thinking. You made the air-combat auto-resolving. Nice. This is the easy road and somewhat a safe bet. No tactical thinking, but... nice.
So, it is logical that you want the Geoscape mode to use the same skills as the rest of the game, too. Tactical thinking. You can make it like in XCOM: Enemy Uknown (without the air-combat part). But it's not nice. Or you can make it real-time. Which is not nice too. Because AT LEAST contradicts with the tactical thinking skill as the rest of the game. You said that in this moment it is turn-based. One turn - one day. OK. But you said also in your answer to my question that this is not a final decision. I know. It is difficult. 
Gollop said before a year that in the upcoming Phoenix Point the Geoscape will be turn-based. One turn - one week. Then (yesterday in live stream on Facebook) he said it will be in real-time. He doesn't gave a proper answer why he changed his mind - I asked him in real time (pun intended). His answer was unclear. He was unprepared for this question... You can watch it, it was yesterday. I think his team can not do a turn-based Geoscape properly and maybe for commersial reasons do not want to make an additional effort and slow down the development of their...buisness.
So. I see some contradiction in your words. You want to make the whole game tactical, but you feel dubious about "immersivnes and responsivnes in certain ways" and think about real-time option. But wait! What about the ground-combat? Maybe you want to make the ground-combat like Commandos series? Immersive and responsive! Great! 
Again - I know, it's difficult. But if you desire to make properly this game - take your time and make the Geoscape mode like the rest of the game - turn-based game which use tactical thinking, not reflexes. It is a matter of principle. I saw demo-gameplay videos of Xenonauts 2. Your game looks great.

XCOM: Enemy Uknown's Geoscape is imitating a valid game - you can just watch and when something happen and must make a move - the time stops. But the air-combat real-time mini-game is not imitating anything. It is an obvious stupidity. They ofcourse removed it in XCOM 2, but now the Geoscape is in real-time and you make moves in real-time. Yes, you have huge amount of time and this clock movement is somewhat cosmetical thing but again...it is a matter of principle.

And now the situation is: IF you take the "hard way" and invest your time, resourses and energy to make a proper turn-based strategy (Geoscape) you will make the first ever X-COM-like game that is fully turn-based and require tactical thinking in every part of the game. The first and the only one (for now). In this case, it will  deserve a special name, not "2". In this case, your efforts will be justified. In this case, you will be appreciated from around the world. At least the Earth. In this case. Only.

And if your feelings aren't wounded enough from my aggressive posts, and if you a tired of discussing about cultures and languages - which language is first, second and third for me, please make a comment. It's your turn. (pun intended)

Thank you.

Rosen, Bulgaria, Bulgarian speaker.

Edited by Rosen

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13 hours ago, Rosen said:

Hello again, Chris.

*snip*

To explain my position a bit more fully - firstly, the air combat is currently just autoresolve but it will be something more complicated in the final game. It won't be the same minigame as in Xenonauts 1 but I don't have a final design for it yet... although it'll probably be something where you issue your planes orders / stances / engagement ranges / tactics before the battle and then you resolve the interception without any further interaction. So hopefully something that is quick but still requires some strategic choices.

Regarding the realtime vs. turn-based Geoscape, ideally I would like to have a turn-based Geoscape in Xenonauts-2 if we can make it work properly. I think turn-based is much better at displaying information to the player because they advance a day and then they get the notifications of the events that happen that day all at once, and they can make decisions and assign resources with all the information to hand. However, the experience of doing this is not yet as immersive and realistic as playing the Geoscape in Xenonauts 1 and unless I can get it feeling "right" (i.e. not like it's been simplified) then I can't promise the final game will have a turn-based Geoscape.

An example of what I mean is the interceptions. In Xenonauts 1 you get a UFO appear, and you order some planes to chase it. You speed up time and watch them chase it around the map, then eventually catch it and shoot it down - and you can zoom in and order the interceptors around, and if the UFO flies closer to another base then you can launch different interceptors at it that might reach it first, and so on. It feels like an immersive experience... although it can also be quite a frustrating one at times, because you've really got no idea in advance how likely a particular plane is to catch a particular UFO (as you don't know which path the UFO will take).

On the current turn-based Geoscape, you click on a UFO and choose the aircraft you want to send at it, then you get a % chance of intercepting the UFO. If the aircraft successfully intercept the UFO, combat occurs and you have a chance to shoot down the UFO. This only takes about 5 seconds and currently isn't a very fun or satisfying process. There's several things we are planning do to make it "feel" better though, for example:

  • We'll limit each interceptor to one interception per turn (it needs to refuel / rearm after its mission)
  • We'll play out a little animation where a plane flies out of the base and heads over to the UFO on an attempted interception, then flies back afterwards. Maybe the camera can zoom in and show a close-up of the units on the map if the interception is successful and combat is about to occur. Anything to make it a bit more lively.

But fundamentally there's some issues you get from handling interceptions one at a time, rather than having the interceptions all play out simultaneously like happens in Xenonauts 1. For instance, what happens if you fail an interception? Can you just launch more interceptors at the same UFO? Does the crash site appear immediately if you shoot it down? Essentially you're making things easier for the player than it was in Xenonauts 1, because knowing the outcome of an air combat before you assign aircraft to the others is actually quite valuable information. Also, you can't really show the UFO moving around and generating Geoscape events like it did in Xenonauts-1 because time doesn't pass in the same way as it did on the realtime Geoscape, so the UFOs definitely seem quite static.

I think most of these issues can be solved and we can make interceptions feel good on the turn-based Geoscape, but right now the real-time one still feels more complicated and involved. We'll have to see how everything feels once we've improved the turn-based Geoscape a bit more.

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There are so many tun-based strategy games which are so immersive, so deep... I am sure you can do it with the Geoscape properly. And for the air-combat it's OK if you leave it auto-resolving. You can do it a bit more complicated like Smugglers for example. (I put a screenshot below) But I don't know if you have the time to make it like this, because mayabe it's too complicated. I don't know. 

My point was that the turn-based is the only valid option. You said the "right feel of the game" is important. I prefer simplified version, but a legitimate one. I have no right feelings about nonsensical (real-time) games. I have a right feeling about the real Chess, not a real-time one.

Thank you for the time you spend writing to me. I hope it is not lost for you.

S5_Screenshot2.jpg

Edited by Rosen

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While we're on the topic of Geoscape, will there be any "council mission"-esq prompts? I imagine the answer is yes, given you wanted to do more than just UFOs all the time. I bring this up, because the games Massive Chalice and FTL have both done a simple pop-up no-battle events. In FTL, the results of choices were the same across games, and I think Massive Chalice has a % associated to each choice (75% of the time, choice A for event 1 was good, and 25% it was null). Massive Chalice also gave funny options, like "Dip the child in the chalice?". 

I could imagine an event like this: "A smaller than usual alien was found aboard the ship. It's a child! What should we do? A: Terminate, B: Study, C: Hold for ransom". Look at how funny that last option is! Oh my. Maybe option A results in a morale change to the soldiers, some up, some down. Maybe option B results in an interesting lore tidbit about how cloning among the aliens might not be unanimously supported. Maybe option C could be 50/50: the next terror mission is skipped, or it triggers a terror mission.

These pop-up events could provide side-plots to conclude, or just add a bit of change to the normal order of how the game is played. Designing a string of side quests could also be a Kickstarter reward.

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