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Chris

Xenonauts-2 March Update

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Xenonauts 2 Title Art

So with the release of Closed Beta V12.1 it's time for another update on our progress. It'll probably be a month or so until our next public release, because with V13 we're introducing a number of new features that will hopefully leave the Geoscape feature complete (if still a little unpolished) and we need to address some of the backend stuff that has accumulated over the past few releases.

Our Direction:
So the first thing to talk about is what we're aiming to achieve with Xenonauts 2. Over the last eighteen months the design of the game has morphed away from being something rather different to the original Xenonauts to something that is intended to build upon the foundations of the first game and further develop the features people most enjoyed. What this means in practice is doubling down on offering strategic and tactical options, and trying to make the setting more immersive by adding more "simulation" systems to the Geoscape that make it more responsive to your actions and help suggest there is a wider war against the aliens occuring on in the background.

I won't discuss the new strategic mechanics in too much detail here, as you can read about many of the systems in this thread and this thread. The mechanical changes to the game have led us to update the setting so the covert "shadow war" idea has morphed into a scenario where the war against the aliens occurs in plain sight - the aliens have demanded the surrender of the various world governments, but instead they have chosen to unite behind the Xenonaut global defence program (in exchange for access to the ongoing research efforts of the Xenonauts). The aliens have a wider selection of ways to raise Panic in the funding regions and force them to surrender, but the player also has a wider variety of tools that can stop them.

Early Access:
I'm hoping that we'll have most of the mechanics we need to support this new vision of the game in place when V13 is released. This would logically point to an Early Access release in the relatively near future, but we're currently choosing between two different options about how to proceed.

The first is that we decide to release in the near future; perhaps two months after V13 is released. We'll create a special Early Access build that ends about a third of the way through the game (shortly after Destroyers start spawning regularly) and then frantically polish that build until the launch arrives. The (rougher) full game will still be accessible on the Experimental branch, but fixes and content that doesn't appear in the Early Access build will be ignored until after the launch. That way, players will be able to get a better feel for what the final game might be like at launch and are likely to leave better Steam reviews.

The alternative involves signing a deal with a publisher to market our game in exchange for a cut of the profits above a certain level of sales (i.e. the sales we think we'd make without their involvement). If this were to happen then we'd be pushing the Early Access release back to something closer to six months from now to ensure that the game is really polished and the marketing has time to generate the interest we need for a really successful launch. If we went down that route, we'd expect to have almost all the game systems in place and Early Access to involve primarily polishing and adding content.

Assuming we can make the financials in the deal work, pairing up with a publisher my preference - I'd much rather be writing research reports than marketing blurb, but the community need more frequent communication and game needs better marketing in the run up to the Early Access launch. Having professionals working on that (and investing their money into it) would be more effective and more efficient than me trying to do it myself. Anyway, hopefully we'll have a decision one way or the other in the next few weeks.

New Artwork:
With more certainty about what shape the final game will be taking, we've now started working with a few new artists. You can see the painting above which we'll be using as a promo art piece and quite possibly also the updated Main Menu screen for the game. I think it's come out rather well and hopefully the same artist will be doing some additional paintings to help set the mood in the game. We're also having another look at the background art for the various management screens on the strategy layer with a different artist, which is something that should make the game feel much fresher (seeing the art from X1 in the sequel really doesn't help the feeling that the sequel is just a rehash of the first game).

The UFO artist from the original Xenonauts is also working with us once again. If all goes well there we'll be switching back to using the old style of UFOs from X1 (introducing some new designs and revising some of the old ones) but also trying to integrate partial destructibility into them in the ground combat. The current "grey box" style of UFOs does offer nicer tactical possibilities but their designs get repetitive very quickly so if we can combine their looks with better destructibility I think we'll have the best of both worlds.

Coronavirus & Personal Matters:
A few words on Coronavirus - we don't expect this to affect us too much as Goldhawk is made up of youngish people who already work remotely. But there is likely to be some disruption nonetheless, as I'm sure some sick days will be required and closed schools some of our freelancers might end up having to do childcare instead of other work. So I'd expect progress to be slowed a little over the coming few months but it shouldn't be anything too dramatic.

Finally, I've got a child arriving shortly so I'll be disappearing for a couple of weeks in the near future. I'll still be doing the management work required to keep the company operating but I'm going to be avoiding the forums and game design / balancing / writing duties during that time. So don't worry too much if I vanish and stop answering your questions for a bit - I will be coming back (quite possibly in the form of a sleep-deprived zombie)!

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17 hours ago, Chris said:

Finally, I've got a child arriving shortly so I'll be disappearing for a couple of weeks in the near future.

The most important part! Congratulations Chris, and get some sleep while you still can!

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Congratulations.  Maybe a contest on the forums so we can name the kid?  :cool:

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Congratulations Chris, it does bring back memories, one thing about being a grandfather is being able to give them back! Be prepared for no sleep for 2 years!

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Aww shucks, the shadow war was something I was really looking forward to, and I can't say I am thrilled by the possibility of this ending up an EGS exclusive. But at least the art piece looks really good!

Stay safe.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Chris and Goldhawk Team.

Very Thanks for the new Gameversion Beta 12.1. I Play and Test it since the World Trips (which I was on 1) were fully canceld and all have to go home in their own 4 Walls. I like the Version and esp. the new implementations on the Geoscape. 

And it´s very good to hear, that all of you working on the Game in that World-Corvid-19-Crissis. That the best thing we all can do not to get :confused: and :(.

It´s nice to hear that you Chris get new blood in your family. A Child is something lovely and stewpindbear is right, because the first 2 or 3 Years are very sleepless. I see it by my cousine and my niece.

 

Now 2 Things in your March Update I and some others will disagree.

First: Don´t get a Publisher. They are only Moneymakers and you wouldn´t get your game fully finalised. See Electronic Arts and her Games (like the newest one Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order).

Soluton: Better ask us Betas for some more Money, if you need it. Or you will go to Early Access after the Game on Geoscape, Basemanaging and Ground Fights are working fully stable.

Second: Don´t go back to the old UFO-Designs. We already have enough X1-Refits and many People are saying that X2 is the same as X1. The Base Management and Basebulding is such an example. At the Moment we Betas can explain some things on Steam and other Forums where Xenonauts 2 get discussed, but not for long anymore.

Solution: Get in the promised Things from Kickstarter and on the Website here like you announced. The new promised Things are like the new UFO-Design we play or the new Geoscape Options we test already. And not to forget the new Basemanaging things (like we testet before Verson 9 following) with the Managenent of Personal. It has to come as fast as possible before Early Access beginn.

The Base-Solution-Change from the cool looking Atlas Base they accepted in the Discussions, after some of us could explain that to them in Steam and other Platforms. But don´t take a toll on your luck for that, because many of the Waiters are thinking not to buy Xenonauts 2. That´s whay if only more refits from X1 are comming (like the UFO-Change to the old Design Goldhawk thinking of) the Early Access get not the wished effect.

And the Publishers will give you the same Answer. They know what Goldhawk promissed and if they give Devs and Money for the Project they will bring in the promised things. Maybe some more new Ideas, if you get Lucky. In the Worst Case-Scenario the Publisher gives Goldhawk the Order to make a complete new Gamedesign, which means the 4 or 5 Years of Development already and all the Beta-Tests and Beta-Versions were for Scrap.

Sadly to say that but that´s the Fact. Both Alternatives are risky, but if I were Goldhawk I would take the Early Access Option after Beta 13 or Beta 14 with the new Geoscapethings and an useable Base-Management incl. Personal Management.

 

Edited by Alienkiller

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As a fellow developer, I strongly urge that you guys consider the decision to sign a deal with a publisher very carefully. This may come off as a bit trite, but in most cases that would be a make-or-break decision for any game project. Choose your partner wisely.

Also congratulations to you and your family, Chris! And while you may be excited for your newborn child, please don't put him/her into the game!

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I hope a visual redesign for geoscape will look something like that new art in the @Chris' post above. Striking green background, big bold yellow pulsating rings for missions and slowly fading long yellow lines behind ufo's and aircraft. I'd love to see visual flavor like that! Looks exactly like a strategic map some military organization would use.

Good luck with the baby and congratulations!

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A few observations from what the implications seem to be from your post, please correct me if this is not the case. 

 

Money seems to be getting tight, the game was scheduled for some kind of steam release nearly a year ago, however it has not reached a workable state yet. Development funds surely must be worn tight with being a year ahead of the funding schedule, so at this point some kind of path has to be made to secure funds for continued development. Early Access or look for a publisher.

From the time-frame you mentioned in Early access, the game would need at least 8 months of frantic development to reach a workable state from this point. 

 

Clearly there have been early errors in the original calculations of how long this game would take to make which were put forward when calculating how much this game would need to be finalised. You guys put forward this to backers on kickstarter. While there are always unforeseen delays, the buck has to stop somewhere and at least some blame for it getting to this point is on you guys. I'm saying this to put it into perspective that the decision to get help from a publisher is something none of your backers agreed to when they put their money into the game your making. 

 

Many Kickstarter projects of games die long before they reach the stage of Xenonauts 2, where Early Access is a feasible option. It is my opinion that if you have to take some negative feedback and work faster to ensure the game finishes in a workable state, then that is the decision that is closer in line with the agreement you made with the people who gave you money in the first place to create this game. Yes its not ideal and the game will have less polish, but I know I at least will look back on this decision if Xenonauts 3 ever goes onto kickstarter and remember how they could not make an accurate timeline of development and funds and then allowed unknown people into their project to make up the difference.

 

I hope you guys make the right decision, I put money into this game, I sincerely hope publishers that I avoid for their practices don't end up involved in this.

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Posted (edited)

And........the world has changed. Posts like the above in the present situation just show people have far too much time on their hands. Think of the situation firms are in at present, most are just hanging on by their fingernails. Please people show a bit of thought before posting. And yes I too backed this game. I’m not worried about this, there are far too many other things to think about. And again congratulations to Chris for his new arrival, that’s what’s important. 

Edited by stewpidbear
Explanation.

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@stewpidbear

If you think my opinion is in some way baseless, I'd appreciate it if you could give me a constructive reason why. Disregarding my principles as simply having too much time on my hands is an ad hominen attack, you have no idea who I am or how I feel about these thing. Clearly you disagree with my point and thats ok.

Personally I think the situation gaming firms are in currently is great if your thinking of putting up a game on steam in the near future, as you said everyone has far too much time on their hands, steam has had record amounts of players, Xenonaughts would get alot more views if they were able to put out their early access soon. Your saying to me and others to put a bit of thought before posting, can you put a bit of thought into why my opinion is not worth bringing up in response to this post?

 

I wish Chris all the best in his personal life as I would anyone going through this position. I am simply concerned about the game I support.

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7 hours ago, EvilEagles said:

As a fellow developer, I strongly urge that you guys consider the decision to sign a deal with a publisher very carefully. This may come off as a bit trite, but in most cases that would be a make-or-break decision for any game project. Choose your partner wisely.

14 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

First: Don´t get a Publisher. They are only Moneymakers and you wouldn´t get your game fully finalised. See Electronic Arts and her Games (like the newest one Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order).

1 hour ago, lemondarkcider said:

A few observations from what the implications seem to be from your post, please correct me if this is not the case. 

Although I appreciate people's concern, as I said in my original post, the publisher deal is just a marketing deal. I don't have time or expertise to market the game properly and it'd be dumb to release an expensive game without trying to market it properly.

The publishers aren't giving us any signficant sums of money (if anything at all) and there's nothing in any of the potential publishing deals that means we lose control over the design of the game, have to change the schedule of the game, be forced onto the Epic store, discontinue Community Edition, etc. We're just going to get a marketing partner to make sure everyone knows that Xenonauts 2 exists and what cool features it has rather than have it immediately fade into obscurity when it launches.

Please don't extrapolate too much about what that means for Xenonauts 2 based on your own perceptions of what a publisher is / does, as the reality is that publishers can do very different things depending on what point they get involved in a project and how much money they put in. Generally they have a lot of control over a project but if they come in near the end and aren't putting any money in then they're facing much less risk themselves, and need much less control as a result.

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2 hours ago, lemondarkcider said:

@stewpidbear

If you think my opinion is in some way baseless, I'd appreciate it if you could give me a constructive reason why. Disregarding my principles as simply having too much time on my hands is an ad hominen attack, you have no idea who I am or how I feel about these thing. Clearly you disagree with my point and thats ok.

Personally I think the situation gaming firms are in currently is great if your thinking of putting up a game on steam in the near future, as you said everyone has far too much time on their hands, steam has had record amounts of players, Xenonaughts would get alot more views if they were able to put out their early access soon. Your saying to me and others to put a bit of thought before posting, can you put a bit of thought into why my opinion is not worth bringing up in response to this post?

 

I wish Chris all the best in his personal life as I would anyone going through this position. I am simply concerned about the game I support.

Because people are dying around the world, countries are going into lockdown and people cannot work. So getting an early access soon means absolutely nothing in the big scheme of things. If things in the world were normal I wouldn’t say anything and your points are possibly valid, but timing as they say is everything. I hope to god (whichever or none that you believe in) that Chris and his workmates are safe at home with their families not worrying about an early release date or anything else that is non important. In my household we’re locked down for at least 14 weeks, ah the joys of being in an at risk group! and my wife's Uncle is in hospital with the virus, with no family able to visit him.  I freely admit I don’t know your situation or anything else but I do hope you stay safe and well.

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Posted (edited)

@stewpidbear:

That Worldsituation is what it is. A normal natural selection from Mum Earth to reduce humanity to a normal level. Mum Earth is only doing her natural Selection. That she has done in 1919 with the Spanish Flu or the black death in M. A.

I´m in Home Quarantene too for the next 2 Weeks because I came from a Cruise Trip which was canceld. So I know your Situation very good. And I know many People which can´t work, because they have a company or working in a company which are not primary (like Healty, Police etc.).

Some of us working in the secondary (like Recycling, Game Devs, News, TV etc.) which can work and Game Devs can work from Home Office if possible. Paradox for Example is doing Home Office if Possible.

The Rest is working in the tertiary (like Massage Salons, Fighting Shools, fashion Stores etc.) which can´t work or only with Live-Videos / Online Bundle-Sells. Most People I know are working in this Part.

So I know exactly what your fear is. We all don´t know how long this is going. But Fear is the worst Case you can do now. Chill is the best you can do now and that brings us back to topic.

 

Chris and all the others from Goldhawk have to decide the next Step of Development. We will get Beta 13 as a big last Version only in Beta. And the Game will get DLC´s with not implemented things yet in the Main Version.

We all can only give Tips to Goldhawk, but what you are doing is raising only Panic. And for such we don´t have time and Nerves. Bring in Ideas / realy significant proposals for the Game or shut up.

 

Edited by Alienkiller

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1 hour ago, stewpidbear said:

Because people are dying around the world, countries are going into lockdown and people cannot work. So getting an early access soon means absolutely nothing in the big scheme of things. If things in the world were normal I wouldn’t say anything and your points are possibly valid, but timing as they say is everything.

 

4 hours ago, lemondarkcider said:

If you think my opinion is in some way baseless, I'd appreciate it if you could give me a constructive reason why. Disregarding my principles as simply having too much time on my hands is an ad hominen attack, you have no idea who I am or how I feel about these thing. Clearly you disagree with my point and thats ok.

Again, I appreciate the concern at the well being of me and the other Goldhawk employees but it's perfectly fine for people to politely raise percieved issues with the game or the development process even at a time like this. I'd probably feel differently if lemondarkcider had been rude in communicating his thoughts, but he wasn't :) 

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I really don’t know where my ‘fear’ came from, I was just stating facts. I’m quite accepting of what Mother Earth does as a natural cycle. Without going into needless detail I’ve always accepted death as a natural part of life and not to be afraid of it. Enough said. Please take care whoever and where ever you are:)

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Posted (edited)

Find a publisher.  You'll need more than a few weeks. :rolleyes:

Also, Epic Game Store does not have reviews, so you may consider doing early access there.

P.S. and Humble Store too. Humble also do publishing and is on more friendly term with Steam.

 

Edited by Sheepy

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Posted (edited)

On a lighter note: as long as General Burt Reynolds features somewhere in the game (like he did in Xen1) then I'll be happy!

When are the personal characters some paid for going into the game and will you have to input some sort of code to include them in your squad?

Edited by ooey

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Cool, thanks for the update :) I hope everyone is well and as a backer I want to say that whatever you guys decide is best for the project is good with me

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A bit late to the party as I have fallen from checking the forum daily in the last months. Still, I'd like to welcome you in the rank of fathers, Chris, and hope everything goes well with birth. Yeah, you will get little sleep, but hey, you can now officially always get away with dad jokes, which is nice! (Not the only nice thing about having children by any means)

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On 3/19/2020 at 9:43 AM, Chris said:

The UFO artist from the original Xenonauts is also working with us once again. If all goes well there we'll be switching back to using the old style of UFOs from X1 (introducing some new designs and revising some of the old ones) but also trying to integrate partial destructibility into them in the ground combat. The current "grey box" style of UFOs does offer nicer tactical possibilities but their designs get repetitive very quickly so if we can combine their looks with better destructibility I think we'll have the best of both worlds.

That's great to hear. Hope for the best for you guys.

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