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Xenonauts-2 Kickstarter coming 20th June!

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At long last we've set a firm date for the launch of the Kickstarter for Xenonauts-2 - it will be happening on Wednesday 20th June, at 14:00 GMT / UTC.

We've been working on this Kickstarter for a long time and we hope you'll be willing to support us when we launch, as it really makes a huge difference to a crowdfunding campaign when you have a strong first 24 hours! Our funding target is £50,000 but we're hoping to raise more than that - the more money we have to spend during the last phase of development, the better the game will be!

I should also mention that Kickstarter takes a much smaller cut than the other sites on which we sell, so if you enjoyed Xenonauts and are pretty sure you'll be buying Xenonauts-2 at some point, Kickstarter is definitely a good place to do it - about 20% more of the money ends up in our pockets compared to you buying the game on Steam for the same price. It also makes the project look more interesting and popular, which means we're more likely to get press coverage about the game in the future and the people wavering about whether to support the game on Kickstarter would probably feel more confident in doing so!

We will be sending out a notification to everyone on our mailing list one week before the Kickstarter launches (13th June) and then a reminder on the day of the Kickstarter itself. 

Reward Tiers:
These are our plans for the reward tiers, all of which (awkwardly) have to be priced in £ rather than $ because we're based in the UK.

  • £1 - show your support, and get our project updates and notifications
  • £18 - get a copy of Xenonauts-2 on Steam / GOG when it launches onto Early Access (the game will launch at $30 when finished).
  • £25 - as above, but with a digital copy of the soundtrack and additional access to the three-month beta we will run on Steam / GOG prior to the Early Access launch (this tier is limited to 2000 backers)
  • £35 Option 1 - as £25, plus your name in the credits, and you can put a soldier in the random soldier pool with a name, nationality and gender chosen by you
  • £35 Option 2 - as £25, plus your name in the credits, and you get a second Early Access copy of Xenonauts-2 to give to a friend
  • £50 - all of the above, including both £35 rewards
  • £75 - all of the above, plus you can create your own unique face for the custom soldier using our portrait generator
  • £100 - ?????
  • £200 - all of the above, plus our portrait artist will paint you from an image you send him (tier is limited to 20 backers)
  • £500 - all of the above, plus you'll get to work with us to create a random event that can hit the player - possibly incorporating yourself (tier is limited to 5 backers)

We're expecting the beta testing period to be about three months long, and it should start 1-3 months after the end of the Kickstarter. You will have access to this if you back at the £25 tier or above. Once this beta test is complete the game will launch into Early Access and everyone who backed at the £18 tier will then get access to the game.

You'll notice we've gone in very heavily on the digital rewards. The physical rewards we did for the original Kickstarter were a massive pain to organise, particularly with regards to the shipping ... and I worked out afterwards that we actually lost money on them. Things are easier these days because specialised fulfillment companies exist but unfortunately I still don't think we'd be making much money from physical rewards.

The downside is that we're left a bit short on reward tiers. I honestly can't think of anything to put in at the £100 tier, and I'm open to suggestions - if we can't think of anything good then we'll just take that one out, but it's a nice round number and I'd rather include a tier at that level if I can.

If you want to see how the custom portraits look, here's the Beloved Leader himself drawn from a still from the Kickstarter video. Pretty good work, no? There's a total of 25 portraits available (5 of which are at the £500 tier) so if you're interested in getting some custom art done, you might want to grab the £200 tier early :)

beloved_leader.png 

As I mentioned before, we'll be starting our PR push one week before the Kickstarter on Wednesday 13 June, so we've got a bit of time to tweak the reward tiers etc before that happens. If you've got any thoughts on the rewards tiers or how well the custom portrait editor program works, please let us know!

It would also be super-useful if you could spread the word about this to anyone that might be interested. Several hundred thousand people have played Xenonauts over the years but unfortunately we don't have contact details for most of them ... so we're reliant on our mailing list (and hopefully the gaming press) to reach them. Word of mouth can be a very powerful thing!

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A game like Starbound had players pick (design?) art for hats. I don't know to what end there will be soldier customization in X-2, but perhaps the backers could choose/design/provide input for some wearables. When the soldier named (or renamed to) Mr. Backer spawns, they also spawn with a silly hat, or super cool sunglasses, of their choosing. They may not have their portrait done, but they have a custom avatar, to an extent. I imagine opening the door to that sort of customization will make modders happy too. 

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Okay, an idea for the 100 Pound level (though you might put this one further up (cheaper) to get more of them):

What if in the soldier management or loadout screen you had a personal note/memorial wall in the background (I would not put it in an actual separate memorial screen because this will only rarely be looked at), and there were random notes appearing (e.g. "Happy times in the stalls to the person who kept stealing my joghurts - hope you enjoy the laxatives!"). Backers at a certain level can create such a message to be seen in the game.

If that is not feasible from a design standpoint, it could alternatively be part of a loading screen showing some base interior or a scrolling info text line (dunno what this is called in english) somewhere. That would be kind of like the random audio messages from Firaxis XCOM, and the backers could contribute.

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Hope it goes well.

As for,

- £100 - Same as 75£ but you get 2 portraits so you can add your sibling, friend, significant other, etc. :P Not very original but hey... Or maybe add like a super backer medal to the soldier uniform art.

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Hrmmm .... for that much, I'd suggest one minor equipment piece 'tweak' out of the gate - and I'd suggest this even though I myself wouldn't shell out that kinda extra $$$ to get it, but b/c I think people who DID pay that much oughta have something at least minorly game useful for that much, w/o exactly sending the game into a huge pitch in their favor.

I don't know how many weapon / armor tiers you're planning to have on the new game, but if, say, it's at least 5 tiers, I'd go with this.

The backer gets choice of ONE of the following THREE items.

A "Tier 2.5" Equivalent Assault Shield, Assault Pistol, or Assault Baton.  "Tier 2.5" meaning a piece of equipment that is greater than Tier 1 or Tier 2 and only marginally less effective than a Tier 3 item (again, if you're going at least 5 Tiers here).  Some flavor text might even come with the choice, explaining how you end up with one (and only one) such item, and why your engineering team isn't mass producing the things, like a) it was found in an alien base raid and appears to be an alien's attempt to make an equipment improvement on an item of ours (now, why would they want to do that .... hrmmmm) or b) it was a prototype equipment piece constructed by one of our best engineers, shortly before he left Xenonauts entirely due to an altercation with the Chief Science Officer, or c) it was a prototype made by an organization outside of Xenonauts located in China, Russia, Japan, the U.K. or what-have-you shortly before their base was overrun by aliens.

Regardless of the reason, it'd give one really nice, useful bit of tech to one of your unlucky saps drawing the short straw and having to be first through the breach is how I'd look at it. ;) 

Edited by Wyldefyre_CP

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11 hours ago, Wyldefyre_CP said:

Hrmmm .... for that much, I'd suggest one minor equipment piece 'tweak' out of the gate - and I'd suggest this even though I myself wouldn't shell out that kinda extra $$$ to get it, but b/c I think people who DID pay that much oughta have something at least minorly game useful for that much, w/o exactly sending the game into a huge pitch in their favor.

I don't know how many weapon / armor tiers you're planning to have on the new game, but if, say, it's at least 5 tiers, I'd go with this.

The backer gets choice of ONE of the following THREE items.

A "Tier 2.5" Equivalent Assault Shield, Assault Pistol, or Assault Baton.  "Tier 2.5" meaning a piece of equipment that is greater than Tier 1 or Tier 2 and only marginally less effective than a Tier 3 item (again, if you're going at least 5 Tiers here).  Some flavor text might even come with the choice, explaining how you end up with one (and only one) such item, and why your engineering team isn't mass producing the things, like a) it was found in an alien base raid and appears to be an alien's attempt to make an equipment improvement on an item of ours (now, why would they want to do that .... hrmmmm) or b) it was a prototype equipment piece constructed by one of our best engineers, shortly before he left Xenonauts entirely due to an altercation with the Chief Science Officer, or c) it was a prototype made by an organization outside of Xenonauts located in China, Russia, Japan, the U.K. or what-have-you shortly before their base was overrun by aliens.

Regardless of the reason, it'd give one really nice, useful bit of tech to one of your unlucky saps drawing the short straw and having to be first through the breach is how I'd look at it. ;) 

I don't think messing with the balance like that is a good idea. Tier Rewards should be cosmetic only.

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A variant to Dagars proposal:

  • The backer is allowed to name a vehicle, a squadron or something else after him/her or chosen expression. Maybe a callsign like, CH-48 "Thixotrop" or X-37 "Dagar".
     
  • Backers name to one of the staff characters that occasionally appear in the communications between the commander, the science guy and whoelse, like:
    "...oh and by the way, as I mentioned the new Plasma Rifle test, engineer Thixotrop has messed up again as he tried to use those Alenium charges on rechargng his mp3-player. As soon as he moans about not having a bed anymore, remind him that he may not have a job anymore very soon too. We still have to try to get all the greenish glowing metal pieces out of the concrete walls of the canteen that is on the OTHER SIDE OF THAT WALL."

 

Don't know if this works for more than a couple of people though. Maybe have to switch some tiers here.

Edited by thixotrop
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It seems that once you get past the £75-tier the rewards become content-based (as opposed to relating merely to game access), yet even those upper tiers look to be things that might possibly be modded when the time comes. So, the reward is inclusion, or decision-making, into the base game. Moreover, those higher rewards are getting the pro team to work on and polish your desired content.  

Rewards:

  • You get a map builder (did someone say Skitso?) to construct a design from a sketch you submit. Maybe size it such that you need to stitch a dozen of these sketches together to form one complete map.
  • Donors get to do a bit of voice acting, like a death-cry. The Goldhawk sound engineer then cleans it up with whatever audiomagic needs to happen.
  • The option to add a few pixels to some of the artwork or throw in ideas for alternative skins for aliens. Technical artists would obviously then touch them up.
  • Ideas for how to hide easter eggs in the game. Obviously this would need a bit of a veto system as I'm sure Goldhawk don't want a hidden dickbutt in X2.

I guess that it is a bit hopeful to have any old user-submitted content be of a quality sufficient to meet the market; also, there are loads of barriers facing people who might want to enter modding (e.g. time and skill). With the above, I'm trying to say that stuff amateur modders would want to do, but feel that the output is beyond them, could be something the design team can help with if the donation is sufficient to cover their time.

There could be other rewards relating to access. Like allowing a £100 donor to stream their play of the demo as the official teaser release.

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Thanks for the comments, guys. Yes, I think for the £100 reward it'll have to be something related to the game content. Ideally though it should be something that costs us very little developer time to put in the game, because the £100 tier is only £25 more cash than the previous tier and that really does not cover much dev time. It also should not clutter up the game if, say, 100 people decide they want to buy that tier.

For instance, one of the big crowdfunded games (either Divinity or Pillars of Eternity I think?) let you put a dedication in the game that appeared on a tombstone. This is something that costs the developers little time and doesn't overly clutter up the world even if there's hundreds of them. Something like naming a staff character in a research report is better suited to a £500 tier because that's limited to 5, and involves quite a bit more dev time to make it work.

I suppose a possibility might be to incorporate some kind of news feed that prints out relevant "news" from the world / within your organisation as alien events happen - kinda similar to the little text you get when a UFO spawns a Geoscape Event in the first Xenonauts. That's something where we could easily slip backer names / characters in for minimal effort and also be able to scale well. Would any of you be interested in that?

Or yes, a memorial wall with a section for "past" Xenonauts that died before the game and incorporate the backers into that somehow.

I'm very reluctant to add in anything that affects game balance, so having "pre-order" weapons etc isn't something I'm particularly interested in.

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1 minute ago, Chris said:

I suppose a possibility might be to incorporate some kind of news feed that prints out relevant "news" from the world / within your organisation as alien events happen - kinda similar to the little text you get when a UFO spawns a Geoscape Event in the first Xenonauts. That's something where we could easily slip backer names / characters in for minimal effort and also be able to scale well. Would any of you be interested in that?

Just to elaborate a bit on my suggestion: This is more or less exactly what I thought of. In some window where you either spend some time waiting (geoscape in X1, loading screen) or where it thematically fits (barracks, base overview) you could add a scrolling (base internal) news feed the backers can participate in filling. But instead of having the news feed merely blare out the names of backers or their characters it would be some kind of text the backers chose. They could effortlessly get their name in there if they wanted. Fitting the theme these texts could be about outside world news ("Freak storm hits office building in Germany. Lone survivor Bruno D. claims 'ugly monsters made me go blind', not the lightning."), memorials ("Mass for deceased Sgt. Dagar today at 2 P.M. No open casket display (you would not want to see that)."), internal messages from staff (see my previous post), security messages ("Re-playing movie scenes of burglaries with laser rifles and bath room mirrors prohibited. You do not want to lose a toe like Sgt. Dagar."), other announcements ("Movie night starts at 8 P.M. Today's movie: Independence Day.) and so on.

Of course you would have to approve these first. But this is easily implemented, can feature a vast amount of messages, is a nice thematic addition, and even if it is expandable by modders, the backer's message still would be in the vanilla game (and likely all mods to come).

The downside would be that messages might not make sense at a certain point in the game (e.g. the above one if you have not researched laser rifles yet), so you'd either have to implement checks with the unlocks on the research tree or campaign progress or keep them so general that they could apply at any point in the game.

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It sounds like the ideal would be for donors to be able to submit some really basic bit of information that could be programmatically inserted into the game. I'm kinda surprised that there wasn't more of that in XCOM2 - as far as I recall, there were only a dozen or so bios in the pool. Whilst I like @Dagar's suggestion that these bits of info could be whole sentences that appear as news snippets, I worry that the truth is that some people just aren't that funny or good with their words (obviously you peeps are all hilarious ;)). Equally, I'd be pretty sad to see something offensive in there that slipped past the censors. Although having said that, if we can sneak in some dig at Trump, I would not mind one bit.

What I'm getting at is that the input doesn't have to be a text string. I'm sure there is scope for the input to be something like GPS coordinates for an enemy base, a time-date stamp for a scripted event (reaper attack for your birthday!) or even contours on the geoscape - just delegate the boring tasks of development to eager fans. Even things like picking a colour which is used in a minor piece of the armour of something-or-other is relatively high impact. You can see it and recognise it, but wouldn't drastically affect the game. Most other players wont even know it is there. I mean, if someone picks an outlandish colour for something in a sci-fi game, no one is going to lose their minds about it (although if you represent lasers in the wrong way...) 

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7 hours ago, Dagar said:

...where you either spend some time waiting...where it thematically fits...add a scrolling (base internal) news feed the backers can participate in filling...

This. I could write dozens of such silly news feeds, internal black board messages, lavatory scribblings or locker notes. Even to tell a sort of succession of events...damn my mind starts already.

Edited by thixotrop

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15 hours ago, Chris said:

I'm very reluctant to add in anything that affects game balance, so having "pre-order" weapons etc isn't something I'm particularly interested in.

No harm done, t'was only a suggestion - I was just looking at it from the POV of people who would actually want to shell out that kinda dough, and something at least slightly useful they could get in net return.  I certainly wouldn't want it to cause a ruckus game-balance-wise.  That was kinda why I went with the idea of limiting it to a small assault piece of gear - those poor bastiches could use any help they can get.  You could nerf it down to a Tier 1.5 item if 2.5 sounded too crazy (again, I don't know how many weapon tiers you were planning on, so the 2.5 was just an uninformed, off-the-cuff suggestion).

Who knows?  There might be a lot of people who would pay that much just to see their name on something.  I can't be tempted past $50 on any game - Phoenix Point did try to push that, but what I wanted from them (early access to the game) was already offered at the $50 mark.  I tend to be the odd-person-out, though, so my take on the subject (is there any practical or useful benefit I can get by spending a bit more money?) might not be the mindset of the majority of your backers. ;)

EDIT:

Darn, now that I look back on what I get for $50 on Phoenix Point, I realize there's a whole pile of other stuff coming with - the hilarious bit is that I didn't even notice half this stuff before, I was only interested in what level of buy-in I needed to playtest their game while they worked on it (psshh, the rest is just icing !)

 

Edited by Wyldefyre_CP

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7 hours ago, Wyldefyre_CP said:

Who knows?  There might be a lot of people who would pay that much just to see their name on something.  I can't be tempted past $50 on any game - Phoenix Point did try to push that, but what I wanted from them (early access to the game) was already offered at the $50 mark.  I tend to be the odd-person-out, though, so my take on the subject (is there any practical or useful benefit I can get by spending a bit more money?) might not be the mindset of the majority of your backers. ;)

I don't think this makes you the odd person out at all, I think most people hit their limit at $50-$60. I think getting a large number of people to throw in an extra $10-$15 is a bigger gain to the team than getting a handful of people to pay $200 each ... to the point where I was actually tempted to throw in the portrait generator portrait at £35/$50 alongside the soldier name. Maybe I'll still do that?

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£100 is worth about how much dev time? While I think adding strings to the game via news ticker, reports, background etc is worth a reward tier, I don't feel like I would pay that much money to add a few sentences to the game. If £100 is not worth a lot of dev time, then maybe coding the infrastructure to display those strings is really all that can be done. I still think cosmetics, either through "hats" or decals for vehicles/guns, would be more exciting. 

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2 hours ago, Chris said:

I don't think this makes you the odd person out at all, I think most people hit their limit at $50-$60. I think getting a large number of people to throw in an extra $10-$15 is a bigger gain to the team than getting a handful of people to pay $200 each ... to the point where I was actually tempted to throw in the portrait generator portrait at £35/$50 alongside the soldier name. Maybe I'll still do that?

There you go !  To me, that's solid thinking, meaning more people will actually be able to enjoy something that they might get some real use out of, too - nothing beats really feeling the sting of losing a character that has one of your best bud's portrait on it, except maybe watching the rookie with your boss' pic take a full on laser blast (whoops, who said that ...).  Along those lines, if you ever come up with an expansion / DLC to this new Xen2, adding portrait generator to it (for those who didn't cash in on the $50 original) wouldn't seem like a huge leap or slap in the face as it would if, say, you were only giving that out to +$100 investors.  But that's probably a bit of cart before the horse.

Personally, I was super stoked you made the effort to provide the free demo to Xen2 (even if it did mean I had to learn how GOG operated, haha).  I've had a ton of fun playing through the stand alone battle, and have been really impressed with how far it's come in the past few months.  I'd guess I've probably done a solid dozen runs from the onset to where you guys're at now.  Really looking forward to the point where the end of that first battle brings you back to the base, hahaha ... nudge, nudge ;)

 

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How about if you use custom nose art submitted by $500 level people on jets and helicopters?  Or name the aircraft after them?  Or both?  Obviously taste and reason would be required aka no porn on the AC. 

Edited by StellarRat
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Custom interceptor skins is actually a pretty good idea. It's been suggested to me several times but for some reason it's only just clicked now that it's pretty easy to just do a few extra paintjobs that the player can cycle between if they want, and we could do a Kickstarter-exclusive one to give away. Not sure where it would fit in the reward structure, but it might be a nice little plus too.

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Hi,

Glad to hear the kickstarter campaign is coming soon ! I'll try to convince a few friends ...

About that, probably a bit late, but the £100 tier could simply be 4 or 5 copy of the game with 4 or 5 custom soldiers (same as £35 option 1). Allowing you to gift the game to your friend and also gifting them a cool feature (a custom soldier). Nearly no dev. involved and a bigger community.

Just my 2 cents (pence)

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In relation to this £100 tier, I was thinking of the £35 tier, plus a special item, which could be any of the weapon classes, including Alien ones, and or Armour, and other protection devices. Then there could be the recruitment of a 1) Soldier, 2) Scientist, 3) Production Manager, or some other person with a higher level of skill sets, to join the team. 

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