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Chris

Xenonauts-2 Closed Beta Build V3 Released!

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Today we're releasing an update to the Closed Beta builds that launched at the end of last year. V3 is the first build where we actively started considering the gameplay experience and we've introduced a number of new features / updates to improve the gameplay, but it's still not in a state where you can play it as a proper game.

Please note the closed beta is currently only open to Kickstarter backers who have backed the game at the £25+ tiers (this will change later this month). Anyone who is not already part of the Closed Beta who wants to be notified of development progress may want to do one or more of the following:

Finally, a quick word on our Early Access launch that was scheduled for this month - the Early Access launch is going to be delayed by approximately 3 months because we don't feel the game is ready for Early Access yet.

Whilst this is disappointing we're hoping it won't affect anyone very much - the £18 Kickstarter backers will still receive their Steam / GOG keys this month as promised and we are expecting to have alternate arrangements in place with another provider for people who want to purchase the game and get immediate access to the builds (and you'll also be able to get a Steam / GOG key once the Early Access launch happens). I'll write a full update on this topic once the V3 release is sorted.

So, without further ado, let's discuss the updates in V3. I'll start with a high-level overview of some of the key changes but the full changelog can be found below that:

  • Main Base Update: The ATLAS Base building mechanics have been updated. Previously you had 18 building slots and you clicked on them to select what building to construct in that slot, but now we've moved to a more complex grid-based setup where you are constructing buildings of different sizes in the same way as you did in the first game (except the view is side-on rather than top-down). 
  • Strategic Operations: Scientists and Engineers are now resources that must be collected on the Geoscape rather than hired at your base. These "strategic operations" are Geoscape activities that you can send soldiers to in order to earn rewards; right now you can just send a soldier out for a few days to "recruit" some scientists / engineers for your organisation but we're planning to expand this system a lot and I think it has a LOT of potential (you can read and discuss my ideas here).
  • UFO Flee / Guard Behavior: The starting Mimic UFOs don't have any advanced behaviour, but as the game progresses we've tried to make some of the UFOs behave a bit more intelligently. Most UFOs now have a normal "cruise" speed, and then a significantly higher max speed that can be triggered in certain situations like attempting to flee or attack your interceptors. What will hopefully happen sometimes is that weak UFOs will try to flee from nearby interceptors when they detect them and Fighter UFOs will light up their afterburners to try and rescue them from half a continent away, and things like that.
  • Skyranger Translocation: Alien teleportation technology is key to the story of Xenonauts-2, and the Skyranger has been reverse-engineered from this alien technology - indeed, the fact the Xenonauts are the only people who can instantly respond to alien activity anywhere in the world is the main reason why the rest of the world needs their help. As such, the Skyranger no longer appears on the map directly; the ground combat missions just begin immediately after you choose to deploy troops to that location.
  • Armour Fragments & Magnetic Weapons: I've been experimenting with requiring the early game advanced tech to require recovered alien resources to construct, so I've hackily implemented "Armour Fragments" and "Alien Magnetic Weapons" that are resources recovered from the battefield and used to build Combat Armour / Accelerated Weapons respectively. See what you think.
  • Alien Outpost mission: A small alien base mission now spawns on the Geoscape at about 14 days. This is still an early version of the Alien Base tiles but it's good to have them playable in the game.
  • New UFO Crash Site Maps: We've added about 30 new maps to the various biomes where UFOs can crash, and updated various older maps where buildings were missing interiors etc.
  • Sebillians: You can now encounter a second alien race on the battlefield, the Sebillians. The regenerating lizardmen from the first game return in the form of the Warriors, who are the general-purpose Sebillian soldiers that can use a variety of equipment (including shields). There's also a larger and tougher variant called the Brute, which carries a machinegun and presents a bit more of a challenge.
  • Soldier Recruitment: Soldier recruitment is now done on the Personnel screen in the same way that it was in X1, so you can now see soldier stats before you hire them. Soldiers are currently free but the pool of recruitable soldiers only refreshes with each Funding Report you receive.
  • Soldier Generation & Portraits: The soldiers now fully randomise their nationalities, genders, names, ethnicities etc like they did in the first game and we've added about 250 portraits to the game so there should be a lot more soldier variation than before. 
  • Soldier Strength: We've brought back soldier Strength, with stronger soldiers able to carry more weight than weaker soldiers. Strength does not yet level up though, and each point of Strength gives less of a carry capacity gain compared to the first Xenonauts.
  • UI Improvements: We've spent quite a bit of time improving the usability of various screens in various ways - the ground mission briefing, the mission debrief panel, the save game panel, the dropship soldier assignment panel, loadout assignment / editor, base stores, etc.

There's a lot of big changes here, and there's even more in the changelog below - it's been a very productive six weeks. Our priority at the moment is to try and implement the few remaining large missing features so we can spend more time on the usability and game balance and all that. This includes reworking the ground combat UI and then implementing ground combat saving, and doing a pass over the air combat and perhaps implementing the Geoscape event log from the first Xenonauts, etc. Maybe getting the Terror Sites and Base Defence missions working in some form too.

We won't get all of that done for the next build but the list of core features that we still need to implement is shortening quickly. There'll still be a lot of polishing and balancing and AI work to do once the core features are in place, but the game will feel far more "complete" and enjoyable once all the major parts are running properly.

 

FULL CHANGELOG:

General:

  • The soldier generation system now operates like it does in X1; it can generate effectively unlimited numbers of randomised soldiers in each game.
  • Approximately 250 new portraits have been added to the game.
  • The "Save Game" UI panel has been restyled so it's a bit cleaner and easier to use than it was previously.
  • Toasts (the small messages that briefly appear to say things like "Insufficient TU") no longer queue up, as a few misplaced clicks could easily queue up 10+ seconds of notifications before you realised what you were doing.
  • You now get the "This is a test build!" warning screen the first time you play each new version of the game

Strategy Gameplay:

  • Winning a Raid mission now grants you +20 Relations in the local region
  • DEFCON now counts up from 0 to 100, rather than down from 100
  • The flow of time on each of the four speed settings is now much faster, making the Geoscape feel less sluggish and bringing the timings more into line with X1
  • The Main Base screen has been updated to support a building grid and a list of buildings you can construct on the grid. Note that buildings must be placed horizontally adjacent to an existing building, so to build downwards you need you build off the missile silo (we're going to experiment with replacing the missile with Access Lifts in the near future).
  • Scientists and Engineers are now recruited through the strategic operations that spawn on the Geoscape.
  • The Skyranger no longer flies to and from the mission site on the Geoscape; instead the game will play an animation to signify the teleportation and then commence the ground combat.
  • There is now an "Alien Outpost" mission that spawns about 20 days into the game, which is a small alien base mission intended to let you test out that mission type.
  • Soldiers now have Strength values that control their carrying capacity, although this does not currently increase with experience like the other skills (I need to think a bit about how best soldiers should gain Strength).
  • There's currently a cap on the number of anomalies (and thus damage) that can be inflicted by a single UFO; this will be replaced with something a bit more elegant tied to the air defence strength of a region in the next month or two
  • The alien invasion spawn locations now have a "rotation" system, which ensures that the alien spawns for each mission type are spread relatively evenly across the different regions (although still in random order)
  • Geoscape is now centered so all of the Soviet territory is on the right of the screen, rather than having it run across the edge
  • Weapon tiles in the inventory no longer disappear when you assign the last weapon of that type to a soldier, as that prevented the player from accessing the ammo magazines associated with that weapon
  • There's been a large number of updates to various UI panels:
    • There's now a quick explanatory "character pop-up" asking you to place your first airbase at the start of the game
    • The ground mission information pop-ups now shows "Lifesigns" (allowing you to recognize alien units that you have performed an autopsy on) and also has a biome preview image that gives you an idea of the environment you'll be fighting in in advance.
    • The post-mission debrief panel now has a new style of soldier progression element that should make understanding their stat increases easier
    • You can now see the stats of your soldiers when you are selecting which person to assign to a slot in the dropship
    • The Base Stores screen has been restyled to make it more obvious what is in your stores and what is due to be sold
    • Added some simple art to distinguish between the "research project available" and "engineering project available" panels
    • The names of Geoscape airbases now support spaces
    • Removed some redundant information from the Engineering project cost text
  • Sale values of items have been rebalanced slightly
  • The corpses of dead Xenonauts no longer appear as an item in your stores that you can sell
  • The Aircraft Equip screen is now correctly limited by the items you have in your base stores

Ground Combat Gameplay:

  • Frag Grenades now explode at the end of your turn like they did in the first game.
  • Sebillians have been added to the game, in two variants - the X1-style Warriors and then larger Brutes who are significantly tougher and carry LMGs.
  • Some of the Sebillian Warriors carry shields, although these are currently lacking custom models and animations. Combat Shields are no longer starting items, and you must capture and research an Alien Shield before you can build your own Combat Shields (these will probably be replaced by something a bit more sci-fi). 
  • We've added a LOT of new maps to the game. Every crash site biome except the farm now has 5 maps for the first UFO and 3 maps for the second UFO.
  • The grenade quickslot now correctly merges together all the grenades of the same type when you are cycling through them
  • We've added some basic animations to the wall-mounted screens that you see inside the UFOs and the alien base
  • Added support for regions of the map to inflict environmental damage; in future builds the alien bases will have poisonous air that inflicts damage on any soldiers not equipped with Gas-resistant armour
  • The camera now follows a unit when it moves through a teleporter if the exit tile is not on the screen

Strategy Bugfixes:

  • Fixed a bug where your manufactured items would be duplicated when you took them into battle
  • Fixed a bug where units would permanently gain the resistances from their armour after each mission, leading them to gain so much resistance they would eventually start healing from incoming damage.
  • Fixed a bug where soldiers were not healing between missions
  • Fixed a bug where loadout profiles became invisible after loading the game
  • Fixed a bug wheree equipping armour through the loadout profiles would not update the soldier portrait with the appropriate armour
  • Fixed a bug where soldier promotions came out of sync if a unit was promoted but had not killed any aliens on that mission
  • Fixed a bug on the Soldier screen where you could not sort by the TU column
  • The radar range circles will only be shown on the Geoscape in base placement mode if you are over the world map (i.e. not the map sidebars)

Ground Combat Bugfixes:

  • Fixed a crash that was occurring whenever the Psyon Commander appears
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when using the Medikit
  • Fixed an issue where intervening units were not blocking or reducing accuracy of shots
  • Fixed an issue where TU reserve settings were not properly stopping soldiers from spending those TU in some circumstances
  • Fixed an issue that made it extremely difficult to shoot through doors, as the allowed firing angles were very small
  • Fixed a bug where non-player units were "teleporting" when they moved out of Xenonaut line of sight
  • Fixed a bug where civilians had 100HP instead of 20HP
  • Fixed a bug where GC inventory items showed their names all the time
  • Fixed an issue where the laser weapons and alien weapons were always being shaded with the green obstruction shader
  • Fixed a bug where the alien Magnetic Rifle was visually shooting plasma bolts or kinetic rounds at random
  • Like 1

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As for me, take your time to make a good game.

Some comments though:

  • I am nervous about the UFO acceleration system and eager to read reports about how it plays. In theory, it seems to me like a not too fun system, because catching a UFO in Xeno1 (at least at the beginning) was no trivial task to begin with, and having your Interceptors turn around because of lack of fuel is not fun. Maybe you could alleviate that a bit by e.g. dashing the UFO in one direction only and only for a brief period of time, after which it has to go really slow? Or it gets damaged due to high wear and atmospheric drag it is not built for, so it may even crash?
  • As for the teleporting: If you introduce such a system, please weave it into every system of the game. Teleportation has a huge impact on how the game should work compared to Xeno1, e.g. deploying soldiers, agents, retrieving personnel from anywhere, transport of men and material between bases, including airplanes and vehicles, ... Additionally, please make it interesting decision-wise. As I have stated multiple times, strategic and tactical games live from the range of decisions the player can make and their impact on the game world. Does teleportation cost anything? Can you maybe only teleport soldiers to the battlefield in a staggered manner, meaning that for the first couple of rounds you need to secure the perimeter with few soldiers? Can the aliens take some measures to prevent you from teleporting or delay it? Why does each side not teleport in reinforcements all the time? Why can I not just teleport soldiers around on the battlefield at will? Or equipment like hot grenades or C4? Why can the other human factions not teleport and we can? All that needs to be balanced, explained and explored carefully to make it a good system. I hope you are not opening Pandora's Box with this decision.

I am eager to hear and see more of the game!

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16 hours ago, Chris said:
  • Strategic Operations: Scientists and Engineers are now resources that must be collected on the Geoscape rather than hired at your base. These "strategic operations" are Geoscape activities that you can send soldiers to in order to earn rewards; right now you can just send a soldier out for a few days to "recruit" some scientists / engineers for your organisation but we're planning to expand this system a lot and I think it has a LOT of potential (you can read and discuss my ideas here).

I love that idea! I didn't read the link you provide, but can imagine some of the scenarios this could lead.

 

16 hours ago, Chris said:

Skyranger Translocation: Alien teleportation technology is key to the story of Xenonauts-2, and the Skyranger has been reverse-engineered from this alien technology - indeed, the fact the Xenonauts are the only people who can instantly respond to alien activity anywhere in the world is the main reason why the rest of the world needs their help. As such, the Skyranger no longer appears on the map directly; the ground combat missions just begin immediately after you choose to deploy troops to that location.

I do not like too much this one. I would prefer that you need to escort the Skyranger because it may be discovered & shooted down by an intelligent alien ship. In all XCOM games (I think) you can send your Skyranger alone without any fear.

 

Thanks for the update!

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1 hour ago, Dagar said:
  • As for the teleporting: If you introduce such a system, please weave it into every system of the game. Teleportation has a huge impact on how the game should work compared to Xeno1, e.g. deploying soldiers, agents, retrieving personnel from anywhere, transport of men and material between bases, including airplanes and vehicles, ... Additionally, please make it interesting decision-wise. As I have stated multiple times, strategic and tactical games live from the range of decisions the player can make and their impact on the game world. Does teleportation cost anything? Can you maybe only teleport soldiers to the battlefield in a staggered manner, meaning that for the first couple of rounds you need to secure the perimeter with few soldiers? Can the aliens take some measures to prevent you from teleporting or delay it? Why does each side not teleport in reinforcements all the time? Why can I not just teleport soldiers around on the battlefield at will? Or equipment like hot grenades or C4? Why can the other human factions not teleport and we can? All that needs to be balanced, explained and explored carefully to make it a good system. I hope you are not opening Pandora's Box with this decision.
1 hour ago, Juan said:

I do not like too much this one. I would prefer that you need to escort the Skyranger because it may be discovered & shooted down by an intelligent alien ship. In all XCOM games (I think) you can send your Skyranger alone without any fear.

Although I understand your concerns, I don't want to talk too much about the new Skyranger mechanics in this thread as it risks derailing it. It's mentioned in the changelog mostly so people don't think it's a bug; there'll be a proper thread to discuss the changes elsewhere on the forums as the changes have to be discussed in the context of some of the other changes to the game.

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Posted (edited)

I'm a £18 backer and I'm going to get access to a build of the game for the first time. I'd like to know if there is still a stream ban on this latest version of the closed beta.

Edit: btw there is a confusion between your Kickstarter update where you said all backers from £18 up would get access, and this forum update where you still say only those from £25 up.

Edited by lonelyknight

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19 minutes ago, lonelyknight said:

I'm a £18 backer and I'm going to get access to a build of the game for the first time. I'd like to know if there is still a stream ban on this latest version of the closed beta.

Edit: btw there is a confusion between your Kickstarter update where you said all backers from £18 up would get access, and this forum update where you still say only those from £25 up.

Hmmm, I've updated the wording a bit - what I meant was that right now the builds are only open to the £25+ backers, but we'll be sending out keys to the £18 Kickstarter backers later this month and then they'll be able to access it too.

Yes, the streaming ban is still in effect unfortunately,

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Haven't had too much time to keep up with things, but quickly wanted to post this: the release of the original StarCraft was postponed time and again, but that game became a cornerstone of establishing Blizzard as a gaming company. Bethesda on the other hand has by now acquired a reputation for consistently publishing unfinished and extremely buggy content, and i know a number of people who have openly stated they do not intend to purchase any more products from this company. I'd say that it is pretty clear on which side to err, and completely support you delaying any part of the release of the game until it's ready.

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I'm a £35 backer and I did receive a GOG code for betas. I've been very busy and didn't get to redeem it until recently. When I did that it added a "Xenonauts 2" item in my GOG library (which is empty, no downloads available). There is no beta download that I can see.

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On 3/23/2019 at 12:43 AM, stamasd said:

I'm a £35 backer and I did receive a GOG code for betas. I've been very busy and didn't get to redeem it until recently. When I did that it added a "Xenonauts 2" item in my GOG library (which is empty, no downloads available). There is no beta download that I can see.

This is just confusing in GOG. I already asked GOG support about it and then wrote them they should put a clear hint about it on the website. Appearantly they didn't.

What you need to do is: Install GOG Galaxy, log in with GOG credentials and then install the game from the library Tab. There is no manual installer available during closed beta phase appearantly.

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Oh that's how it works... I actually have GOGGalaxy, but I never use it... I prefer standalone installers. OK firing it up now; takes a long time to update but after that it is showing me the beta 3.1. Going to install now. :)

Thanks for the help!

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