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Chris

Xenonauts-2 February Update

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As February has come and gone, I think I owe everyone an update on our progress. Lots to discuss, but first I should mention that anyone that wants to stay informed about our progress and hear about the launch of the game can either sign up for our mailing list or wishlist us on Steam / GOG:

Early Access Launch & Beta Build V3:
We're planning to release another build in just over a week, on Tuesday 12th March, although this may slip if we encounter serious bugs when testing the build next week. This will be Closed Beta V3, the first build where we've actually started to consider the gameplay experience rather than just purely stability and functionality. The game hasn't magically transformed into something different overnight, but we've implemented some cool new features and we'll be starting discussing some of the bigger mechanical changes with the community when it releases.

I should also mention that our Early Access launch was due to happen at the end of this month, but unfortunately this is likely to be delayed by several months. We're hoping that this won't inconvenience our backers too much though - the remaining Kickstarter keys will be sent out at the end of this month as promised, and we're looking into alternative ways people who missed the Kickstarter can buy into the beta and still receive a Steam / GOG key when we launch into Early Access further down the line. I notice Phoenix Point are using Xsolla to run their beta but still grant a Steam/GOG key on release, so perhaps we can do something similar...

The reason for this is simple - we don't think the game is polished enough or has enough content for an Early Access launch. Any negative reviews we receive now will last forever and potentially reduce sales for the entire lifetime of the game, and as our finances are still relatively solid there's not really any need for us to risk it happening to us.

Features & Improvements:
There's actually a lot of new stuff coming in Build V3 - we're adding new maps and mission types, bringing the Sebillians in, updating the base structure mechanics, finishing off the soldier generation / hiring code, adding "strategic operations" to the Geoscape, and more.

Our new design assistant has spent the last month working on the maps, and we're hoping to add the first Alien Base and Terror missions into V3 along with a lot more UFO crash site variants for each biome. All of this will require additional polishing in the future (e.g. the Alien Base maps have some weird fog of war interactions, and it's pretty obvious we need some wall-hiding functionality to make navigation easier) but I'm pleased with the progress we're making in this area.

We've also added two types of Sebillians to the game. People who have been here a while may remember the big bulky Sebillians that appeared in the free builds over a year ago; those guys are now called Sebillian Brutes. They are now accompanied by the old Sebillians from the first game (now called Sebillian Warriors). I've not really balanced the stats yet, but idea is to add a bit more variety to the race - the Warriors are a bit less resilient than they were in X1 but are better shots at range, whereas the Brutes have a LOT of health and carry heavy weapons or melee weapons.

The Main Base has also been updated to support a grid-based construction method that allows structures of different dimensions rather than having several "slots" of predefined size which you could place any building into. This sounds like quite a small change on paper, but given buildings now come in different sizes in practice the base feels a lot more freeform and complex compared to how it did in previous builds. We're still updating the art to match the new style and there's a few mechanics I'd still like to experiment with, but this topic is something we'll cover in more detail once V3 comes out.

The soldier generation updates represent us finishing the work required to move the game over from only allowing the hiring of specific soldiers to being able to generate unlimited numbers of soldiers with the appropriate nationalities, genders, names, ethnicities and portraits. The soldier generation system in X1 was actually a very complex beast but we've pretty much finished recreating it; in practice that means the soldier hire pool now refreshes with each funding report and you get to see the stats of your soldiers before you hire them like you could in the original game.

The final feature I'm going to talk about are Strategic Operations, which are still experimental right now. They've gone through several iterations in the past and are the current incarnation of the "Geoscape Agent" system; the idea that you can send your soldiers out to interact with the local regions to improve your strategic situation. They exist as points of interest on the Geoscape that you can send soldiers to, and after a certain period of time those soldiers will complete the Strategic Operation and claim the rewards. Although the operations only take a few days to complete, the travel time is counted from the closest Geoscape airbase - so if you've got no bases anywhere near South America, it'll take you a long time to reach and complete a strategic operation in Brazil.

At the moment we're only using these for positive effects (e.g. they're how you recruit Scientists / Engineers), but I'd like to incorporate some of the alien activity into this system too. For example - certain alien missions might spawn "Infiltrators" on the Geoscape, which would be Strategic Operations that reduce your relations with the local region. Sending a team to go and complete the Infiltrators mission (i.e. neutralize the infiltrators) would remove it from the Geoscape, but obviously deprives you of those soldiers for a certain amount of time. The idea is just to make the Geoscape less empty between waves of alien activity; you'll have some small teams of soldiers moving around the world gathering resources or cleaning up after the aliens. I'll be creating a thread to discuss this mechanic when V3 comes out too.

There's actually a lot more to talk about, but this post is already getting very long so I'll just cut it off here. Progress is good, the next build isn't far away, and I'll be asking your opinions on several big topics soon! :)

 

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All the progress you are making sounds great, especially looking forward to the infiltration missions and I am curious if staff can get killed if they fail in such a mission. I also wonder about how well the portrait generator will handle random generation of soldiers, in other words how diverse the pool will look.

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I am form the old school, as in my time in the Military, men and women where not mixed into the same unit, so call me old fashion but if this is set in the 1970-80's then they did not have mixed combat units!!

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2 hours ago, Ruggerman said:

I am form the old school, as in my time in the Military, men and women where not mixed into the same unit, so call me old fashion but if this is set in the 1970-80's then they did not have mixed combat units!!

Well, guess what sweet cheeks. The Xenonauts don't discriminate or segregate. Actually that's not true. The only people we don't let in are the ones who're bothered by racially diverse units.

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On 3/2/2019 at 3:59 PM, Casaubon said:

All the progress you are making sounds great, especially looking forward to the infiltration missions and I am curious if staff can get killed if they fail in such a mission. I also wonder about how well the portrait generator will handle random generation of soldiers, in other words how diverse the pool will look.

The "infiltration" missions aren't in yet, and currently there's not even a skill check (sending one soldier is just as effective as sending three) - but yeah, that's all stuff I'd like to play with. We'll put up a thread where we can collect and debate ideas when the new build goes up as I think this is a relatively small feature in code / art terms but could be quite transformative for the Geoscape if we can come up with a design that integrates well with our other Geoscape mechanics.

 

18 hours ago, Ruggerman said:

I am form the old school, as in my time in the Military, men and women where not mixed into the same unit, so call me old fashion but if this is set in the 1970-80's then they did not have mixed combat units!!

 

16 hours ago, FatRabbit said:

Well, guess what sweet cheeks. The Xenonauts don't discriminate or segregate. Actually that's not true. The only people we don't let in are the ones who're bothered by racially diverse units.

Let's not debate this issue again, please - it was already done to death during the development of the first Xenonauts and almost always just results in people calling each other names rather than achieving anything useful.

Note that the game is set in the modern day in an alternate timeline this time around so the realism argument is more tenuous than before, but in any case the level of female soldiers is a customisable value that (we'll probably add a slider to the settings). By default the Xenonauts will feature female soldiers, but if anyone feels strongly enough about the issue that they want to either increase or decrease the ratio of female soldiers then they are free to play the game however they want.

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