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Chris

Xenonauts-2 September Update!

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(This is a cross-post of the Kickstarter update I just posted!

Now the dust has settled on our successful Kickstarter campaign, it's time for a progress update on Xenonauts-2!

There's lots of exciting stuff to talk about, even though the lingering admin from the Kickstarter has kept us busy and the summer holiday period means that we've frequently been without one or more important team members!

Air Combat:
The first thing I want to show off is a very early incarnation of the air combat. The art and design are both still very rough, so try to look past all the placeholder art from the first Xenonauts and the rather simple combat interactions in the video.

Our objectives for the X2 air combat were to make something that was fast-paced but still rewarded the same skills as the rest of the game – tactical and strategic planning (I felt the X1 air combat emphasized reactions over good tactics). I've been playing with a lot of different ideas over the past few years, but I feel we've now hit on a good idea that will be able to combine both speed and tactical depth once complete.

Essentially the player has a certain number of turns to shoot down each UFO before it engages its jump drive and escapes from your interceptors. Your interceptor weapons have limited ammo and generally do more damage the closer you are (as do the alien weapons). Your interceptors can make one move each turn before they attack, but the UFO is also able to move - which it does by moving your jets up and down the battlefield to represent it speeding up / slowing down. Different UFOs will of course have different strengths and weaknesses, and the system supports up to three combatants per side.

I'll likely be writing an entire update devoted to the new Air Combat model once things are a bit more polished and the design has developed further, so I won't try to explain any more about the rules for now – but I just wanted to show everyone that we do already have a basic air combat system working and hooked up to the rest of the strategy layer!  
 

armory_concept_small.png
 

Armory & Soldier Equip:
The next thing I wanted to talk about is the Armory screen and the soldier inventory mechanics. The UI concept above incorporates two major mechanical changes since the start of the Kickstarter, and also gives you some idea of the direction we'd like to take the final UI now we can afford to divert some of our funds to a dedicated UI artist (although it is only a rough style / layout concept, so don't read too much into the details).

The first big mechanical change is the return of the grid-based soldier backpack from Xenonauts 1. We were initially planning to remove this as part of a package of changes to make the inventory system less cumbersome, but we reconsidered our position after the community raised some valid points about why this might make the game less interesting to play. We're currently in the process of implementing the old backpack / inventory mechanics (they'll be in for the closed beta), as well as the other planned changes that were uncontroversial improvements to the system.

The second change is my first concept for the modular armour system that forms part of the modular equipment stretch goal. This works by splitting armour into two different inventory slots: the "Armour" and the "Plating", and giving items in both a set of % resistances against different types of damage.

The “Armour” is the base layer of armour your soldier is wearing – at the start of the game it's the blue Tacsuit, but your research efforts soon unlock different types of suit that offer better / different protection against the various damage types (ranging up to the endgame Exosuit).

“Plating” represents any additional armour you wear on top of this base suit, so the starting Tacsuit allows players to wear either “Light Kevlar” or “Heavy Kevlar” plating (the heavier plating offers more protection but weighs more). As the player progresses through the research tree, the Plating can be upgraded – e.g. Kevlar vests become more protective Alloy vests, etc.

This system allows players to mix and match armour to suit the specific mission. If you want good Chemical protection, you can equip your soldiers with a Chemsuit but then issue your assault troopers heavy plating and your snipers light plating. The way that plating upgrades through the game keeps older types of armour relevant, too - that same Chemsuit will still be somewhat viable in the late game if you have sufficiently advanced plating available, although advanced tech like an Exosuit would obviously be better in most situations.

Remember that this idea is still at concept stage and not yet implemented, so it may well change prior to release (or even prior to the closed beta!)
 

brain_concept.png

New Aliens:
Finally, I just want to show off a quick piece of concept art for a new alien to go in the game. The 3D art for this alien is not yet complete, but it's planned to be a single-tile psionic support unit. 

We've got a number of new aliens working their way through our art / design pipeline, and we're making an effort to include some more distinctive aliens in the game this time around. There's certainly a place for humanoid aliens in space jumpsuits in the alien roster, but I think any X-Com successor also needs to embrace some of the absurdity of the original games to properly capture their spirit. A floating alien brain seems a pretty good place to start!

Anyway, that's enough from me - there's a lot more I'd like to talk about but I really should get back to work! The closed beta is still planned for the start of November and I'll keep everyone informed on our progress towards that deadline as it approaches.

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1 hour ago, Chris said:

but I think any X-Com successor also needs to embrace some of the absurdity of the original games to properly capture their spirit. A floating alien brain seems a pretty good place to start!

I think thats a good point to make.

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Nice to see an update on the forth coming game, would have liked a bite more the other topics from these pages.

I await with bated breath!!

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I think aliens may look "strange" but Xenonauts tried to be believable and, overall, make sense. Besides, times changed and these days you don't just put absurd things in games or movies that otherwise try to be coherent. Of course, Japanese games have their audience but I doubt it's the same audience X1 have. And, IMO, these games don't really try to be coherent in the first place.

Thus, this alien concept could be modified. If it would get a proper suit, with the brain still visible but also with some equipment like small anti-grav generators, it actually could be reasonably realistic. And it could explode on death so a player wouldn't get those generators for research too early.

Personally, I think everything should at least try to be believable in a game such as X2. Otherwise it would lose some of X1's appeal.

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I like that news with the new concepts for existing ones of the predecussor.

1. Armorplates: the big step from integration of variable and upgradable Plates are a nice new feature for your Armors (like the light and heavy cevlar at the beginning) and what the Game need

2. Armors: the big step for researchable upgrades for existing armors is a very good feature too (like the beginning suit which unlocks better suits with more or different protection) and what the Game need

3. Backpacks: there is nothing more to say, only that it´s good you noted / heard to the Community

4. Air-fight: looks impressive and well thought out; and you make the good old X-Com Veterans a big delight

5. new Aliens: YES, that´s too a big step forward and what the remake of the Predecussor needed

Can´t wait to beginn the Beta from X2.

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Nice to have an update with concept art. Pretty psyched for the beta.

I wouldn't say there is anything wrong with making the aliens look more alien. They shouldn't all be carbon-based bipeds. It'll only lose the xenonauts charm if it goes down the route of a cartoon aesthetic.

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air combat, we'll get a better picture in the next update..but so far it looks okay.

inventory system, please keep the belt and have it interact differently then the backpack grid. I'm just worried that whole bit will be swept under the rug and the belt would be basically nailed to the backpack as a number of bonus slots.

modular armor good change in theory, just make sure the options for it all have their own appeal..for example..having great chemical protection is never going to be used if all but 1 rare alien will ever use chemical attacks. its great to have a bag of tools...not so great if every problem is best solved with the hammer.

floating alien brain monster, well they are aliens so there is definitely room for weird looks..as long as weird doesn't become ridiculous and nonsensical.

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@ Conductiv: The Air Combat System is completly changed from the first Game. And it remembers on the good old X-Com Aircombat (it´s a combined Air-Combat-Stile from X-Com EU /TftD and Acopalypse). But the Air Combat Model in Xenonauts will play quite differently. All big Kickstarer-Founders have to wait for the Beta :( to test it, because it´s still in big Developement with the other Parts of the Game.

The Inventory system will be upgraded and make better, because much of the Founders and Players of the first Xenonauts played the Combat-Demo. The Reacotions about the Inventory Pictures up to now and the fully Ground Combat Demo from the X1-Players / Testers you will not know. That Reactions were the impulse to change the Inventory System back to the Roots. What you see now is the modified Development sytem from the first Xenonauts.

New in this Inventory System is the changeability of the Armor and the Armor Plates. That was a big missing in the first Game (Xenonauts 1). Now it´s integrated and all Players will have fun now. The big difference to the first Xenonauts is the Recrutement System: you can only limited recrut new personal, so you have to watch for your People much more then in the Predecousur (Xenonauts 1).

Also new are the upgradeable Weapons compered to the predecousur (Xenonauts 1). This uprgadesystem isn´t new [it´s already in older UFO Games like the Afterseries or in the new XCom-Series in a different / much more easyer form because they are older now], but like the Armor / Armorplates a big need in Xenonauts 2.  

And there are much more needable Improvements to the Predecusor (Xenonatus 1) and all comming / existing Games of that Gerne. I don´t know you have Founded on Kickstarter or not. But 2 things is clear: most of the Gamers have to wait for the Early Access to play the Game themself. The other Thing is that the Betatesters (and that are many big founders on Kickstarter) will have a big controll- and Testwork to do, which will be a big challange.

Edited by Alienkiller

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One of the great aspects of this type of game, is the ability to swap and change the unit makeup, and equipment of each member of the team.

As with new equipment that has been researched and manufactured, and adjusting it to each of your troops for weight bearing and performance.

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On 9/13/2018 at 8:30 AM, Ravn7 said:

I think aliens may look "strange" but Xenonauts tried to be believable and, overall, make sense... I think everything should at least try to be believable in a game such as X2. Otherwise it would lose some of X1's appeal.

 

 

The original xcom had some pretty radical baddies back in the day, and I love this self aware slightly camp sci fi floating brain.

I value the munitions having a sense of realism, the aliens not so much.

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Yep that´s true. I remember the Original X-Com Titels and the Demos. Yep I´m the Kids of the 80s and 90s and I´m rejoiced that a Game like Xenonauts / Xenonauts 2 give that feeling back again.

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I remember the dread that would come over me when in the original X-com (circa 1994) a Chrysalis would appear and all guns would trained on it. Great excrement and relief as the bugger bit the dust!!

Can we have enemies like that again?  

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On 9/21/2018 at 8:58 PM, heavy disruptor beam said:

I value the munitions having a sense of realism, the aliens not so much.

also, what is a realistic alien anyway? Something that looks like what other film/media/games imagine - that is familiar, not necessarily realistic. Although watching Alien the other day, I was struck by how much the aliens seem to drool all the time, I mean, where do they get all that liquid? Now that is some silly alien fiction, some very well-selling silly alien fiction.

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@ Ruggerman: Yep Chrisalids are in X-Com 1 (EU) as well as here. The Alien you mean is called Tentakulat which is the Chrisalid in X-Com2 (TftD). That was the Alien I had the most fear in all Games which has it in.

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@ Aircombat; Mhm hoping for the ability to seperate aircraft from squadrons after launch and join together in flight without the need to return to base. that´s really a bit annoying in xenonauts 1.

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@ Casaubon: Yep that was great and unique. Maybe will get this back in an other form.

Like my suggestion to start them all and if the Attack on the UFO beginns the Fighters will seperate in 2 or 3 Groups of a pair to attack a Ufo from 2 to 3 Sides. But we will see it sooner or later for what Goldhawk decided for the Air Combat and the Strategy.

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I like the new interception mechanics so far. I think it's fitting that it's turn-based like the rest of the combat in the game. I didn't mind the original interception, but it was highly reliant on reactions and timing.

The new "Armour" and "Plating" seems cool as well, it'll give a good feeling of outfitting your soldiers before they are sent into the thick of it. A minor detail, perhaps some 2 slot pockets representing the vest could be added? It doesn't really change anything major, I just liked being able to visualize how the soldiers had a grenade in their arm pocket and some heavy cannon ammo on their legs in X-Com UFO Defense. As I said, it's a minor detail and nothing you should be too concerned about at this stage I think.

About the new aliens, I am excited, however, in my mind, which alien empire in their right mind would send soldiers that would have a hard time suriviving the environment of a new planet to that planet when they have a huge selection of gene manipulated soldiers to choose from? What I mean is, why send an ammonia based lifeform (that needs to live under very specific conditions when it comes to pressure and gravity perhaps) to conquer Earth when you have Bob the Alien who breathes oxygen, is comfortable with up to 2 G (making him rather fast and strong in 1 G) and has a strong immune system that is already tailored to survive Earth viruses and bacteria.

The brain thing could still work though, maybe he just needs some kind of cupola to protect his brain body. I look forward to seeing some more distinctive aliens who are not bi-pedal. Variety is the spice of life and the original Xenonauts aliens were fine, but they didn't give me the same good feeling like a Floater or even Snakeman did (even though the Snakeman was quite a "simple" alien).

For now, the new features look great. It's overall looking like it's going to be an improved version of the original Xenonauts. Another cool addition (that would possibly mean a lot more work for your artists) would be to have matching camos depending on the terrain you land in. For example, arctic camo for snow landscapes or desert camos for well... desert. This update filled me with joy and hype for the coming beta!

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