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Chris

Xenonauts-2 November Update

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As we get towards the middle of November I feel like we've been making good progress in recent weeks. Our latest release Closed Beta V9.2 went up on the Experimental branch yesterday and has a long changelog of gameplay fixes that smooth some of the rough edges off the gameplay.

We've also made good progress on the big things we said we were targetting in our last update - mostly finishing off the Air Combat and fixing up the broken / missing parts of the new UI. Both had a lot of small updates and fixes that needed to be made but I feel like both have now reached the standard of the rest of the game (i.e. working, but need some more visual and usability polish before the game releases).

Core Completion:
From my point of view the biggest change in the last four weeks is that the completion of the Air Combat means all the "core" gameplay systems are functional, and the game is now playable. I've therefore been regularly sitting down and playing the game in short sessions to see what missing features, bad game balance, usability issues and bugs are affecting the gameplay.

There is, of course, rather a lot of those things to fix up before the game can be considered finished. But these are generally fairly small issues when taken individually and the V9.2 shows that we can quite a few of them in a single update when we're not tied up working on "big" features, so I think you'll be seeing the gameplay improving quite rapidly from here on out. I know I've been promising this for a while but this time it's already happening - and I consider this quite a big milestone for the project! :)

tactical_armour_variants.png

Modular Armour & Updated Artwork:
Now we're starting to nail down the mechanics, we're also starting to work on some of the final artwork. The artwork above is a rough preview of the new soldier armour designs, which have come about as a result of the Modular Armour system we will be implementing in the near future. This system should make the choice of what armour to equip your soldiers with more flexible and interesting than it was in the first game; you can read all about it by clicking link!

As you can see, we've also taken the opportunity to redesign the armour visually (the two figures on the left represent the starting Tactical and Combat armours respectively). We didn't get the look of the starting armour quite right when we did the previous version of it a few years back, so this time I wanted to give it a more military feel. The advanced armours have also had a bit of a redesign and are now looking much cooler than before - what was previously the Wolf Armour now looks particularly badass, and I'm looking forward to putting in the game in V10 or V11.

We're also adding more artwork to the game for the aircraft and the base tiles. The first new aircraft design (the Phantom) is in the game, replacing the Corsair. I've got some plans to switch up its role from the dual-cannon bruiser that the Corsair was in X1 to something else once we get the upgradeable interceptor components worked into the research tree, but for now it's just a Corsair that looks different. We'll be adding updated artwork for the other interceptors in future updates too.

The base tiles need more work; they're better than reusing the old X1 art but they're still not quite right. There's a fine line between having a base that looks grey and boring and a base that is way too visually noisy or garish in terms of colour, but I'm sure with a few more iterations we'll be able to find a happy middle ground where the base looks more detailed and "realistic" than before without looking dull.

Early Access & Current Priorities:
I don't yet have a firm date for you guys about the Early Access but we're currently eyeing January next year. This date would only be two months away (and people will be off for Christmas for some of it) so we're having to choose our planned work rather carefully. This is my thinking at the moment:

  • General gameplay polishing and balancing
  • Modular Armour system
  • Adding item replacement functionality to the tech tree (so you can upgrade an item into something else)
  • Some writing / artwork for the early game tech tree
  • Getting all the Kickstarter backer soldiers into the game
  • Getting the base structures, aircraft and UFO stats out of the code into editable JSON files

The idea for Early Access is to have a rough but playable game and then spend the Early Access period polishing and adding new content to it, and I think these changes would get us quite some way towards that goal. Anyway, that's it for this month - comments and thoughts welcome, as always.

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Thanks for the update. Do you think you'll do an optimisation pass before Early Access? 

Right now it's impossible to know if I will actually be able to run the game. The betas aren't very playable for me but they are completely unrepresentative of the final game.

Even a rough estimate of how much you guess performance will improve by would be helpful.

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43 minutes ago, jetblackpope said:

Thanks for the update. Do you think you'll do an optimisation pass before Early Access? 

Right now it's impossible to know if I will actually be able to run the game. The betas aren't very playable for me but they are completely unrepresentative of the final game.

Even a rough estimate of how much you guess performance will improve by would be helpful.

Potentially, not really sure at this stage. I've not heard too many people complaining about performance though - in what part of the game are you experiencing the performance issues?

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Ok get ready for a wall of text :)

-My specs: GTX 765M (laptop chip), i7-4700MQ, 8GB ram.

-The battlescape when its static: 30 fps @ 720p. But when I pan the camera or reveal "black areas" the fps drops to around 10 for a few seconds. Happens a lot so it's basically unplayable.

-The geoscape: 20-40. The night/day animation for advancing time stutters a lot. And when UFOs pop up fps drops to around 10 for a few seconds again.

-Maybe to do with CPU utilisation or texture streaming? I know the system is old but hopefully it can achieve a capped 30 fps down the line?

-I'm a big fan of Xenonauts 1, so I pray that y'all can work some optimisation magic. I reckon there must be lots of people in my situation, because Xenonauts 1 was really easy to run.

-Maybe make a performance thread? It'll be useful to get an idea of how it is for everyone before Early Access

Edited by jetblackpope

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7 hours ago, Chris said:

Adding item replacement functionality to the tech tree (so you can upgrade an item into something else)

How about item teardown.  Need a ufo engine for an advanced power station?  Dismantle a Phantom!

 

5 hours ago, jetblackpope said:

-My specs: GTX 765M (laptop chip), i7-4700MQ, 8GB ram.

-I'm a big fan of Xenonauts 1, so I pray that y'all can work some optimisation magic. I reckon there must be lots of people in my situation, because Xenonauts 1 was really easy to run.

Sounds like an mid-range 2013 laptop.  Mobile systems don't age well; they have less power than desktop systems of same age and price.

765M has about 1/5th the power of a last-gen GTX 1060, and 2GB of video memory (I guess) will have a hard time pushing most modern 3D titles.
Have you tried lowering the resolution?  X2 may not be real time, but that doesn't make it or the engine any less 3D - unlike X1.

Otherwise, I'd say consider an upgrade.  On Steam Hardware Survey, I eyeball that a few percent players have a graphic card that is on par or lower.

Edited by Sheepy

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2 hours ago, Sheepy said:

Sounds like an mid-range 2013 laptop.  Mobile systems don't age well; they have less power than desktop systems of same age and price.

Oh you don't need to explain to me that my laptop is very obselete, I know. I game on my PS4 mostly.

That being said, the laptop runs XCOM 2 twice as well as Xenonauts 2. XCOM 2 is harder on the GPU and the CPU- and notoriously poorly optimised to boot!

So clearly there's some headroom there, even when considering the fact that Goldhawk can't match a AAA studio when it comes to the resources dedicated to optimisation.

Besides, I'm only hoping for a capped 30fps. As long as the dips to 10fps can be resolved it's not impossible.

Edited by jetblackpope

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I would also like to see the MARS platform in th next build, but please don't feel pushed and take your time

 

When thinking about modular armour, there are further practical parts that come into my mind:

  • parts with cloaking ability
  • a vest that regenerates a few hitpoints on each turn
  • parts that are resistant to fire and acids
  • hand/arm parts that can carry specific weapons (p.ex. Katana, or a gaountlet with poisoned spikes..)
  • also the mind shield helmet would fit here
Edited by squeezechart

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On 11/11/2019 at 4:30 AM, jetblackpope said:

Oh you don't need to explain to me that my laptop is very obselete, I know. I game on my PS4 mostly.

That being said, the laptop runs XCOM 2 twice as well as Xenonauts 2. XCOM 2 is harder on the GPU and the CPU- and notoriously poorly optimised to boot!

So clearly there's some headroom there, even when considering the fact that Goldhawk can't match a AAA studio when it comes to the resources dedicated to optimisation.

Besides, I'm only hoping for a capped 30fps. As long as the dips to 10fps can be resolved it's not impossible.

To be honest it's unlikely to happen for Early Access if we've only got about eight weeks because we've got quite a lot of other things to tidy up in that time, but yeah there is a lot of room for optimisation. That is quite a low-end laptop but maybe we can get the game running acceptably on it.

A performance thread in general might be interesting reading, as we don't have much data on it at all really.

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Thanks for the reply, I completely understand. I figured it was a long shot given the circumstances. I will continue keeping on eye on X2, y'all keep doing what youre doing!

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