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Chris

Xenonauts-2 Version 0.19.0 (Public Combat Test) Released!

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This version of Xenonauts 2 is a free public test build only available on GOG Galaxy, 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.  We're expecting to release an updated build in two weeks, on Tuesday 27rd March.

We're expecting this map / mission to be the one we use for our Kickstarter build in the near future, so if you want to make sure you hear about our Kickstarter plans as soon as we make them public (shouldn't be long now) then please sign up for our mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/4FKe9

CHANGELOG:

  • New Map - there's a new map in the game now, one which I think is a step up in terms of quality from our earlier work. It does not yet support destructibility on most of the assets, but that will arrive in the next build.
  • Smoke & Fire - explosives now produce smoke and fire when they go off. These apply damage / stun damage if you walk though them, but smoke does not yet reduce accuracy.
  • New Gun Art - we've got some fresh weapon art in the game to better represent the weapon archetypes:
    • The Ballistic Sniper is now an AWM. Relative to X1 it has the same stats but magazine size has been reduced to 5; potentially it will get a damage boost too.
    • The Ballistic LMG is now a M249 Para rather than a M240, as the M249 better matches the stats of the in-game LMG (no balance changes from X1).
    • The Ballistic Rifle is a more modern variant of the M16, although for balance reasons it is still using the old 20-round magazines.
    • The Grenade Launcher now has some proper art based on the Milkor MGL.
  • Multiple Ammo Support - we've fixed up a bug where weapons started unloaded and automatically sucked in the first clip from a soldier's loadout at the start of each mission, but our chosen solution has a cool side-effect. All weapons should now be able to support multiple types of ammo with different stats, with you cycling between different types carried by the soldier by right-clicking on the ammo quickslot. We'll probably only use this for the grenade launcher and maybe the shotgun, but I suspect modders will get good value out of it!
  • Randomised damage - weapons now do anything from 50-150% normal damage when they hit something
  • Game Options now correctly affect the ground combat, so the sound sliders etc work properly
  • Moved the in-game UI elements up a little so they should no longer draw under slightly raised areas of terrain (like concrete pavements etc)
  • Soldiers now aim at a target's upper body rather than their feet
  • Soldier portrait now displays their equipped armour
  • Soldiers are now appropriately orientated in the dopship
  • Shotguns and other pellet-based weapons now display "20% x 3" etc in the same way that burst weapons do
  • Alien plasma bolts no longer hover in the air for a second or two after killing someone
  • Empty weapons now display their ammo capacity in red at all times
  • Corpses should no longer display damage numbers from explosions
  • Highlight shader no longer displays the underground elements of rocks etc when they are tagged as intervening cover objects
  • Fixed a bug where units would take a hit and be suppressed, causing them to go into a crouched state - but would not crouch visually due to the injury animation interrupting the crouch animation
  • Fixed an issue with the move path end tile not being displayed if you were only moving to an adjacent tile

It's a decent changelog and I hope people enjoy the new map. Progress towards our short-term goals has been a bit slow over the last month because we made some big changes to the way maps are saved / loaded, which spawned a huge number of problems we then had to fix up - but the work was necessary and I think we're over the worst of it now.

We've been gearing up for some concrete announcements on the strategy layer and the Kickstarter for some time, but fighting all the fires over the last three weeks meant I've made little progress on that front so I'm very keen to start pushing that forward again. I won't say any more than this - the strategy layer is shaping up well; make sure you sign up for our mailing list if you'd like to hear the major announcements we have coming.

Let us know what you think of the new map and if you encounter any bugs in it!

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Oops, just realised I used the wrong title for this post - updated it now to the correct one!

(if it wasn't clear, this build has actually been released!)

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Some Observations so far:

• Performance now is much better and very playable on my 980Ti. Constant 60FPS with some dipping when panning over buildings. All on max quality 1440P. The night time lighting and shroud is looking good

• Standing on a roof can reveal Aliens that are indoors below with no clear line of sight. Office dividers in buildings do not block line of sight as well as other small issues with revealing aliens that are clearly hidden, but can be still seen through windows and on the other side of the buildings.

• Like X1, you can sometimes shoot through walls namely around corners and when hiding on/in a corner (most likely need a side stepping animation to negate this when firing a shot). Perhaps you should not be able to receive a hit when in this cover as most times its 100% block, unless when flanked or throwing a grenade/explosive(or you could force fire and take the wall out). Maybe when the side stepping animations occurs, reaction fire can take place so its not 100% safe

• Some issues with firing through windows into buildings when the alien is standing in clear view eg: can fire from some positions while others I cant and has to be CTRL forced. I think it has something to do with the shrubs in front of windows and there chance to block. Accuracy penalty for low lying shrubs seems steep and the current 40% could be used when kneeling. You can also have a chance to hit the shrubs when firing from height on top of a building when you would shoot over it by a mile.

• Cant seem to reload some weapons or is it just me.

• Grenade launchers reaction fire hurt my troops on multiple occasions

• Can pan screen on alien movement, and on mission abort is says mission complete.

• The randomization of damage in most cases makes killing an alien in 4 - 5 shots(sometimes more). This randomization should be more so at long distances and slightly less for close range as being close is more risky and should be rewarding (shotguns and heavy machine guns can miss at close range and wont kill). Some projectiles will disappear mid flight with no hitting sound and aliens are deadly accurate(This is probably more so balancing, and not bugs). Probably just me but the plasma fire is visually very fast.

• Some obvious map arrangement and filling like more cover items, more tree's and un-pruned shrubs/foliage etc. Currently lots of open empty space and the terrain is very flat with no hilly elevation(Love the setting and night time environment, buildings are nicely filled with props and the ladders make for different battle tactics). Some multi level buildings would look good although I'm not sure if you guys are up to that yet but of course like X1 and its official release, nicely filled maps will come in time. 

• Glass textures missing in windows

Is there anyway to move around without the restriction of Time units? To test line of sight and positioning?

 

 

 

Edited by roxxed

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Thanks for the feedback. Yes, you can access the developer shortcuts by going to the game files and running the batch script "launchwithcheats" - once you're in the mission, you can mouseover a unit and press T to refill their TU, or press Y to teleport the selected unit to the mouse cursor.

Good to hear performance is better, although in general your CPU is more important than your graphics card with X2 - it's doing a lot of checks on a lot of tiles, particularly when units are moving and it has to update vision with every tile of moment. I'll have a look at some of the balance points you raise when I do another round of playtesting before the next release - you're probably right about the shrubs offering too much protection, and I'll have another look at the accuracy of the aliens too (although it was alrready nerfed once prior to this release). Those internal divider barriers should probably also block LOS too.

The reload thing is something I should probably note down - it's almost certainly as a result of your soldier not having enough TU to do the reload, but it's not very well telegraphed. I think all you get is a buzzing error sound? We need to display a pop-up telling you the error and also somehow give the player a way to view the reload cost in advance.

With regards to the map itself, the specific areas that we are already planning to update in the next build or two are:

  • The road to the right of where you spawn will probably have a couple of cars parked on it so you've got a bit of cover when moving up in that direction.
  • The guard post at the end of the road (by the gate) is going to be broken down into a building you can actually go inside.
  • This map is actually a national guard barracks, so we're planning to put an ornamental tank on a plinth in the middle of the path between the two red brick buildings.

I'm fine with the central "lawn" area being fairly devoid of cover, but are there any other parts of the map you thought felt a bit empty?

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That developer shortcut is a life saver. Been running around the map everywhere now. I've just tested the reloading on all guns and its working correctly. I didn't realise that it uses up 50% of your TU's to reload so that's where I went wrong. Better telegraphing would work a treat here for newcomers alike.

Regarding the map its probably mainly the starting area side, center point as you've said(but will be filled with a tank) and scattered foliage and gardens between walkways and various parts of the map. The garage on the right coming through the gate could have something in it and a few army vehicles along the road parked at the various street bays( I think you have jeeps to use). As soon as you walk up that road nothing is protecting you from the central direction unless you walk up the fence line. To add, the outside concrete divider barriers, the red brick signs and some other misc things can be shot through when standing next to them. Not sure if they offer blocking when being fired at. Wasn't there a shield icon that would appear near cover in earlier builds? I like how that looked.

I guess some of the emptiness comes from the grass texture that's consistent across the entire map (apart from the gravel in some areas). Flat dirt texture's and bark could possibly fix this to simulate where people have walked or to highlight gardens along the fence line, vegetation and concrete pathways for a less "cleancut" look. This can relate to the official images on your website of the ship yard and seeing white and yellow line markings on the ground breaking up the concrete look(shown below). Could use some small clusters of foliage, trees and rocks in various locations to fill the starting point, sides of the map and misc locations (and the center of pathways), but it depends on how you can make it look without it standing out like a sore thumb. I'm not sure what assets you have to play with regarding smaller trees and shrubs but regardless of all this I'm sure you have great map guys that work on all this stuff and have already seen my points as they created the fine map below, but wouldn't hurt to relay it none the less. 

3.png

Edited by roxxed

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Bugs:

  • I had one unit, Ling Zhou (shotgun) consistently not appear as a green hash when obscured by a roof or other object - other units seemed fine
  • The shotgun pellets emit from the foot of the soldier

Possible bugs:

  • The smoke left after grenade fire doesn't engender the green hash so units actually do become harder to see (is this intentional?)
  • Cover doesn't seem to be blowing up, despite repeated grenade attacks (grr!)
  • A unit was suppressed by fire on the other side of a wall (I can rationalise that by thinking of bullets hitting the wall but it feels that physical dividers should have an effect) 

Comments:

  • Units standing on a roof appear the same as those standing underneath, not huge but it does give the wrong impression. Also, I couldn't find how to manually toggle the visibility of each level (can't remember if I tried the mousewheel)
  • I really liked the overwatch option to fire or not, but it seems you only get that choice at first spot - I was hoping to be able to wait till the alien stepped out of cover or something but I can't think how you'd build in the interrupt in that case (tapping space during their move might work but is a reaction kinda thing)
  • Immediate tiles of cover are ignored but other tiles of the same object get in the way - seems odd that you can fire unimpeded across a 2x1 bush but not along it
  • Couldn't jump down from a level up to the ground, ladders aren't as fun for ambushes ;)
  • I couldn't distinguish the death noises in the alien turn - just having a black screen feels a little lacking although maybe the in-the-dark feel is better
  • Overall, shotgunners didn't seem that effective. It could be because they aren't veterans with TU high enough to get right up close. Nevertheless, it felt quite hard to get them somewhere useful and even then they had low percentages - obviously misses got them zapped. Could just be that I'm used to Firaxis XCOM though!
  • Also, being used to Firaxis XCOM, the cover mechanic here feels very different and in a way, less intuitive. I'm not raising issue with it but it made my first play of the demo frustrating. All I'm saying is that it could put off players who are new to Xenonauts - maybe the tutorial could explain that you can't lean around corners - that is a very natural thing to do in XCOM (having the fog of war enabled made this much more obvious so maybe default that to be on)

Is good though, it looks very pleasing. Unlike XCOM it doesn't have animations that make objects or the camera go through other objects. The downside of that is that it is not quite as satisfying to kill enemies but I do like the aesthetic and the less arcade style.

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Thanks both, and we've also had some useful comments come in through our error reporting software too (so thanks to whoever that was too).

It's clear that the TU-reduction of heavy armour has made shotgunners much less useful given they need survivability AND the ability to close the gap with opponents, so I'll rebalance that for the next build (and also probably reduce the damage on the alien guns). Smoke does indeed need to trigger the unit highlighting, and I'll look into why Ling Zhou isn't being highlighted - I assume the shader is just incorrectly set on the female variant of the heavy armour.

I agree that the multi-tile cover stuff is pretty annoying when you're trying to shoot over it... but it's probably happening because the big objects are made up of seperate 1-tile sections rather than any problem with the calculation itself. I'll have to see if there's a way to keep the individual tile-based destruction but also treat the whole object as a single piece of cover when it comes to shooting over it.

 

 

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I was thinking that maybe that map isn't very forgiving of shotgunners - it has a lot of open space and not much in the way of corridors. I'm not sure on the details of the shotgun's damage-distance profile but it does feel that they don't have much of an edge on a rifle unless you start your turn at very nearly point blank range.

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Had a try, lost everyone around the first building. Oh well! Some feedback from this first try:

  • When shooting in close quarters or through a window into the first building, it was not clear where the line-of-fire was being drawn from the shooter to the target. 
  • It was annoying every time I moved even slightly away from the building for the roof to reappear.
  • When shooting at an alien outside, I noticed that one of the blocking terrain elements had been highlighted in red.  If X2 is following X1's rules where only the largest piece of blocking terrain is taken into account between target and shooter, could only the piece of terrain which the game has decided is the blocking element be highlighted, please?
  • Following on from that, does cover exist? When aiming at a target  which was standing behind one piece of cover with no other intervening terrain, I didn't get any indication that there was blocking terrain. 

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Not sure I'd do too much re-balancing on the shotguns yet.  They should be much more effective inside spaceships and buildings.  "My" shotgun would be devastating at close range and nearly useless long range if I was making a game. :)

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Hello!

Combat test scenario 0.19.0:

First try, this map was a great deal harder than the previous one, with more threatening enemies. Two of my poor men got oneshotted the first turn after they were inserted! Though overall in the end I only got 3 casualties. Considering the limited equipment (no smoke, stun or rocket launcher) I think I did acceptably.

So far the test combat is looking great, though of course I miss smoke and stun grenades greatly! Though I understand it's not quite ready yet, I'm just looking forward to it, especially with this map you've chosen this time, where the main building is like a fort with windows in all directions and very little in terms of cover. Only a moat and a drawbridge was missing! :) On a more serious note, if smoke grenades that limited vision and gave accuracy penalties were available, these  problems would easily be solved so no worries there. I really liked how the sniper had an MP5 for when she needed to get close to the building, that was really neat.

I think sometimes some objects blocking your shot should be toned down or tweaked. For example, when shooting at someone standing in the middle of a room through a window, the window shouldn't give a 40% block penalty. In my opinion this penalty should only be applied if the target you're firing at is in any block adjacent to the window.

Shotguns may need a point blank modifier to either accuracy or straight up damage. With the old-school style randomization shotguns, I've noticed, have become quite unreliable even at only 2-3 blocks distance. This could possibly be solved by giving them more pellets as well. This combined with the rather short movement field with the heavier armor, the shotgunner is one guy whose weapon I'd love to have the option of switching at the start of the mission like the good ol' XCOM. I really like my shotgunners, I think having heavy armor on them will be a must, however, they do feel slow. Perhaps a more veteran soldier would get more TUs to deal with the armor.

I think representing TU costs of reloading for example, can be represented by a percentage of your TUs. I found myself guessing how much it would tak, if it was changed from X1, until I simply saw that it took half of your max TU. It would be cool if veteran soldiers were able to reload faster and therefore take more actions after reloading, as of now, all they'll be able to do is move since all other firing values are also percentages. A fast reload trait would be cool, and would make sense if the soldier has seen much combat and survived, though it could possibly become overpowered.


A lot of other things I was going to mention was mentioned by Ninothree in his excellent post. The units on the roof thing for example. Another thing is that the dropship is missing completely.

Graphics:

I have to say I absolutely love the way you've handled the transition from 2D into 3D. It feels extremely similar in style, which is a good thing, while providing a nice feel and the soldiers now move about a little when idle, which adds a certain level of the soldiers feeling like people and that they're actually alive. Which of course will be devastating once they start piling up the corpses. Oh well. Looking great so far.

Final words:

As I said, so far it's looking great. I apologize if this has been asked before, but will pilots gaining experience and having names and such be a thing? For the fighter pilots I think it would be pretty cool, though I understand a lot of balancing work would have to go into it.

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13 hours ago, DaReaperZ said:

As I said, so far it's looking great. I apologize if this has been asked before, but will pilots gaining experience and having names and such be a thing? For the fighter pilots I think it would be pretty cool, though I understand a lot of balancing work would have to go into it.

Glad you're liking how it's shaping up so far, and thanks for the comments. Unfortunately no, named pilots aren't going to be a thing in X2 - at least partly because instead of individual planes they now come in squadrons of 5 (which better helps us model damage but also means there's many more planes / pilots than before).

Yeah, the other problem with shotgunners I neglected to mention above is that the fact the aliens are also now tougher... so not only is it now harder for the shotgunners to get into close range, they usually can't secure a instant kill with a shotgun blast even if they do get there. Lots of risk, not much reward! But it's something we'll address in the next build one week from now.

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On 3/19/2018 at 5:33 AM, Max_Caine said:

Had a try, lost everyone around the first building. Oh well! Some feedback from this first try:

  • When shooting in close quarters or through a window into the first building, it was not clear where the line-of-fire was being drawn from the shooter to the target. 
  • It was annoying every time I moved even slightly away from the building for the roof to reappear.
  • When shooting at an alien outside, I noticed that one of the blocking terrain elements had been highlighted in red.  If X2 is following X1's rules where only the largest piece of blocking terrain is taken into account between target and shooter, could only the piece of terrain which the game has decided is the blocking element be highlighted, please?
  • Following on from that, does cover exist? When aiming at a target  which was standing behind one piece of cover with no other intervening terrain, I didn't get any indication that there was blocking terrain. 

Yeah, I'm expanding the roof hiding radius on the screen in the next build because I agree it's currently too small. The cover rules / visualization in X2 are pretty similar to the ones in X1 though, so if you're experiencing issues with them then please post up some screenshots so we can look into fixing them.

The main issue is just that the multi-tile hedges and flowerbeds are currently made up of individual tiles and so are not being correctly treated as a single object - we've already fixed that at this end so the new build in a week will should have slightly "cleaner" targeting.

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I thought I would give this a try hadn't played in several months, firing at an alien through the fence and blew myself up, then shortly after it froze and had to ctl+alt+del out of it and log off.

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19 hours ago, Chris said:

Yeah, I'm expanding the roof hiding radius on the screen in the next build because I agree it's currently too small. The cover rules / visualization in X2 are pretty similar to the ones in X1 though, so if you're experiencing issues with them then please post up some screenshots so we can look into fixing them.

The main issue is just that the multi-tile hedges and flowerbeds are currently made up of individual tiles and so are not being correctly treated as a single object - we've already fixed that at this end so the new build in a week will should have slightly "cleaner" targeting.

Re. the cover visualization - I don't feel that I've explained myself properly, so let me try again. I haven't been able to get a good picture to illustrate my example, so I've had to make do with the below

 

example.png

 

Let's assume in the above picture that each piece of blocking terrain through the line of fire is an independent free-standing piece of blocking terrain. It is not part of a multi-tile terrain piece, so each piece can be evaluated separately when calculating a shot. Looking at this, I'm informed that I have 3 pieces of terrain, each of which has have a 40% chance of blocking the shot. If the game follows X1's rules, then I don't need to be informed of the block chance for each piece of terrain, because only one piece chosen at random will ever possibly block the shot, so I'm being given too much information.It would be better if the possible blocking piece were highlighted, but I was informed that overall, there is a 40% chance that the shot will be blocked if my soldier rolls to-hit. If, on the other hand, each piece of blocking terrain is evaluated independently, then it would be helpful to have the cumulative probability that the shot will blocked so I know whether or not to bother even if I pass to the to-hit roll. 

 

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6 hours ago, Max_Caine said:

Let's assume in the above picture that each piece of blocking terrain through the line of fire is an independent free-standing piece of blocking terrain. It is not part of a multi-tile terrain piece, so each piece can be evaluated separately when calculating a shot. Looking at this, I'm informed that I have 3 pieces of terrain, each of which has have a 40% chance of blocking the shot. If the game follows X1's rules, then I don't need to be informed of the block chance for each piece of terrain, because only one piece chosen at random will ever possibly block the shot, so I'm being given too much information.It would be better if the possible blocking piece were highlighted, but I was informed that overall, there is a 40% chance that the shot will be blocked if my soldier rolls to-hit. If, on the other hand, each piece of blocking terrain is evaluated independently, then it would be helpful to have the cumulative probability that the shot will blocked so I know whether or not to bother even if I pass to the to-hit roll. 

Sounds interesting, this was one thing I also felt way counter intuitive and I definitely think your solution is a good idea. I'm sure Chris is already aware however :)

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So, was messing around with the .json files looking for TU restriction and instead came across a possible bug. I notice that armour can grant an HP bonus which I tried fiddling with. A soldier hit by an alien weapon will correctly show the appropriate HP loss and possible HP regain, but if you heal a solider their HP resets to their unaltered level. If the intention is that armour grants a permanent bonus to HP, then this is a bug and needs to be fixed. However, the thought sprung to me that the HP bonus need not be permanent. The HP bonus could instead be a 1-time bonus to represent ablative armour. So the tier 1 combat armour in the demo might grant, for example, a 100HP bonus which can never be healed in combat to represent ablative ceramic plates cracking under the stress of absorbing plasma.If you want to go down that route then you'd need to adjust the UI to make it clear that part of the HP bar is health, the other part is shielding. In fact, armour might both grant a permanent bonus and an "albative HP" bonus, but if it's going to grant a permanent bonus then that bug needs to be sorted out. 

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My god is this gorgeous, not only the graphics, but the hud, the art-style, and the return of the aliens instead of human baddies, okay, for now I'm just playing it, and I'm not giving a proper review, nor am I addressing the bugs, but I just wanna say, it's "perfect" (It's still far from finished though, and I'm sure that you will add many other things that will impress me more than the first game)

Good luck with development,

Fabevil

Edit: Hey is this a night mission? It seems like it, if it is, then it's even better.

Edited by Fabevil
asking a question
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Thanks for the feedback guys. Glad you're liking the way it's looking Fabevil.

Max - some good points there. Yeah, it looks like there's a bug in the way the health bars are shown when units are armoured - once they take damage it's displaying the end of the bar at the unmodified max health rather than the value that includes the armour bonus. So the calculations are working fine, it's just that the end of the bar is going off the end of the allowed UI area.

Armour HP is currently just a flat bonus. In the long term having "ablative" HP might be worth checking out, but I think the existing system already models it to an extent - 50% of the armour HP is lost each time anyway just from the existing calculation, which is also perfectly plausible because being shot in the chest is likely to damage your chest armour (and a bit of your actual chest) but not necessarily remove all the armour from the rest of your body and leave you unharmed. So it just comes down to which system would give the desired gameplay effect.

Regarding the cover stuff, we're actually using exactly the same system in X2 as we were in X1 mechanically - but having gone back and checked the original game, we displayed the data in a slightly more restrained way for the cover that was not being counted. Instead of "BLOCK: 20%" in white writing we were just displaying "20%" in grey writing, which is quite a lot less obtrusive (and I actually suspect that was a change made in X:CE because I don't remember doing it myself). Either way, I'll get that updated because it'll probably make everything seem a bit less confusing in situations where a lot of cover is involved.

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Would it be possible to expose the the 50% in some sort of variable in the .json file? Done like that, different marks and types of armour could have different degrees of fragility. E.G. mark 2 jackal armour might not offer more material benefits than mark 1 wolf armour, but mark 1 wolf armour might loose its benefits more quickly than the more mature mark 2 jackal.

Anyway, got a ragdolling issue to report. If you blow up a xenonaut with the grenade launcher or grenades (by accident, I assure you!), the body can be pushed around by other xenonauts. 

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ugh, annoyed at myself for play testing but not thinking to blow up my soldiers with grenades. I mean, it's obvious now you mention it.

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I was hoping to get the new build out today but we've still got a few issues to fix up with it - expect it tomorrow instead.

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