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Chris

Xenonauts-2: The Geoscape

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The Geoscape is the central command and control screen of Xenonauts-2. It is here that the war against the aliens unfolds, with extraterrestrial units and UFOs appearing on the map to threaten the funding regions and you deploying your aircraft and soldiers to defend them as best you can. The goal for our changes in Xenonauts-2 is to give the player more choices and make the strategy map feel more reactive to what the player is doing.

These are the systems covered:

  • Invasion Balance & Reactivity
  • Liaison Offices (Scientist & Engineer Recruitment)
  • Orbital Bombardment
  • Alternate Ending
  • Other Mechanics

Invasion Balance / Reactivity:
The strategy layer in Xenonauts had a few problems that would show up when the player was doing well. The optimal way to play the game was to gain interceptor cover across the entire planet as quickly as possible, and once you had sufficient numbers of interceptors (assuming you kept them appropriately upgraded) spread across the world the strategy layer ended up being rather simple - the UFOs would spawn and immediately get shot down.

One of the problems this caused was that the player would ONLY encounter crash sites from the point they gained air superiority. Almost all alien activity in X1 was driven by the UFOs, so shooting them down shortly after they spawn stops them from even spawning terror sites, creating alien bases or attacking your bases. Clearly, this doesn't make for a very interesting player experience and it's something we've addressed in X2 - the creation of some terror sites and alien bases is now independent from UFOs, so achieving complete air superiority will not lock you out from ever seeing those missions (in the final game ideally about half of them will be spawned from UFOs and thus preventable).

The other problem was that long stretches of the game could be kinda boring when you were doing well. You gained Relations with a region by shooting down UFOs, and shooting down the UFOs also prevented them from damaging Relations - so any region where you had strong air forces would quickly trend up to max relations / funding and just stay there for the whole game. We're tweaking the way Relations (now "Panic") works and adding more strategic pressure from the Orbital Bombardment mechanic (see below) to try and balance this out.

Finally, we're trying to make the alien activity more closely related to the player's actions. For instance, the aggressive UFOs on Air Superiority missions that will attack any of your aircraft that they encounter now possess squadsight, so they if you approach any other UFO within a certain radius they will light up their afterburners and attempt to protect it. Alien base missions now spawn resupply missions like in the original X-Com, and we plan to make alien base attacks more likely to be targeted at bases that house your most active interceptors, etc.

In conclusion, we're aiming to make the strategy layer more interesting through a number of subtle improvements and balance changes that should collectively make for a much more engaging experience.

Liaison Offices (Scientist / Engineering Recruitment):
One of the larger mechanical changes to the strategy layer is the addition of Liaison Offices, which add a degree of territory control the strategy layer. Conceptually the construction of a Liaison Office represents the Xenonauts setting up an embassy / local command center to co-ordinate with the local region, granting permanent bonuses to both your organisation and the local region.

There's about 25 of these in pre-set locations on the map, with 4 to 5 in each of the six funding regions. Construction costs $200,000 and takes 10 days. On completion, funding in the local region will be permanently increased and local Panic will be lowered, and a number of Scientists and Engineers will be added to your recruitment pool. This is your only source of scientists and engineers, so players will need to expand across the world to grow their research / engineering efforts.

Crucially, you need to protect these Liaison Offices once constructed, as alien Bombers will frequently target them and attempt to destroy them. If they succeed, you lose your investment and will suffer a significant panic increase in the local region. Building a bunch of Liaison Offices you then can't defend is an expensive and potentially terminal mistake!

 

orbital_bombardment_cropped.png

Orbital Bombardment:
Within a couple of minutes of starting the game, you'll learn that the Chief Scientist has discovered an unknown orbital object designated UOO-1. A few days later you'll learn that it is not friendly. The alien space station hovering above Earth is in fact an alien superweapon that will destroy a major city from orbit every 10 days, causing a large Panic spike in the affected region.

Although there's nothing you can do to stop this, if the player is progressing through the campaign at a reasonable rate the orbital bombardment mechanic will not affect the game very much. The repeated Panic increases are balanced out by the passive Panic reduction that you now gain from completing important research, and the bombardment will always hit the region with the lowest Panic (i.e. the one furthest from surrendering to the aliens).

The purpose of this system is to quickly close out games where the player has fallen behind and would eventually lose anyway. Thematically, it is intended to make the invasion feel more dangerous - even if you have complete control over the skies of Earth, the aliens will still be slowly bombing humanity into submission. Naturally, you'll get your revenge on the space station at the end of the game!

Alternate Ending:
The core storyline of Xenonauts 2 is learning enough about the aliens to figure out how to stop the invasion and destroy the orbital superweapon. Following a fairly straightforward research chain and winning a couple of unique story missions (an alien facility assault and a unique UFO assault) will eventually unlock the final mission, allowing you to save humanity and win the game when you've got an appropriately experienced and equipped squad to carry it out.

However, the game will also include a second (better) ending that any player interested in reading the research text and learning about the aliens will probably achieve. It's not exactly going to be a hidden ending but it will require a bit more effort to achieve; capturing high-ranking aliens and reading research text will be a necessity.

The idea here is that players can engage with the game world / lore as much as they like. If people want to ignore the research text and just blow up some aliens, that's fine - they can happily complete the game without ever knowing where the aliens come from or what they're trying to achieve. But I've done quite a bit more work fleshing out the aliens and their society / empire this time around, and if players want to take the time required to delve into that information they'll be able to engineer a better outcome.

Other Mechanics:
Some other smaller mechanical changes that don't warrant a multi-paragraph explanation have also made it onto the Geoscape:

  • Panic: each region now has a Panic score rather than a Relations score. This doesn't change much except countries are lost at 100 Panic, rather than being lost at 0 Relations.
  • Static(ish) Funding: regions no longer increase their funding as your Relations with them improve. Instead, any region not lost to the aliens gives you a set amount of funding each month. This funding is reduced by 25% if Panic is above 50, and 50% if Panic is above 75.
  • Geoscape Agents: these are a simple strategic resource that will reduce current Panic by 10% when assigned to a region. I think there's scope to expand this system in the future, but we'd likely only look at this at the end of development.
  • Tech Proliferation: completing certain research projects will give a global Panic reduction and equip the local forces with the appropriate equipment after a certain amount of time has passed. For example, once you've researched Laser Rifles you'll get an immediate Panic reduction and will see the friendly AI forces in terror missions etc start to use them ~30 days later.

 

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So would you consider continuing the Strategic Operations concept in the future? I found it a interesting concept and can make player take good use of spare soldiers/pilots/staffs instead of assgining them to blow up aliens or just working in basements, some missions relating to Geoscape Agents can also made numerous opportunities to insert new lores into the story.

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As an Beta-Tester I can say:

The most of that implementations could be tested since the last Betas. And they give Xenonauts 2 an hughe improvment against Xenonauts 1. The already implemented Features workes fine.

The new implemented ones (Tech Profileration and Geoscape Agents) will be tested in Beta 13 now as well the bugfixed / reworked implemented Features should work finer now. 

I personaly like this new Geoscape-Features and hope to get more with eventually DLC´s.

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On 5/18/2020 at 11:28 PM, Chris said:

the creation of some terror sites and alien bases is now independent from UFOs, so achieving complete air superiority will not lock you out from ever seeing those missions (in the final game ideally about half of them will be spawned from UFOs and thus preventable).

This should be addressed lore wise and with some added mechanics to make these separate spawns different from actual terror missions that involve alien ships. Maybe the independent terror sites are deployed using orbital drop pods so the enemies would be exclusively Androns and  Reapers as they’re the only ones that can handle the G-force and the later impacts. And the bases that get built independently will feature special builder drones and huge portal setup that continues to spawn in aliens (basically an upscaled teleporting elevator) with the fallback of not having any AA guns that have to be disabled. To destroy the base the builder drones have to be killed and the portal must be destroyed. While normal bases have ship hangars, AA plasma turrets and multiple levels to them that makes it necessary for your transport planes be protected by fighters to even land and bombers being unable to destroy the base

 

On 5/18/2020 at 11:28 PM, Chris said:

This is your only source of scientists and engineers, so players will need to expand across the world to grow their research / engineering efforts.

This is quite restrictive in my opinion. Scientists and engineers should also be recruited from special events and factional favors for the added factor of choice to the game. Maybe an alien ship abducted a genius scientist and by shooting down a UFO you can find him in a holding pen/stasis prison. Maybe the Soviets will give you a group of 10 scientists if you help them attack a West German base or give them some tech in making plasma weapons. These people can also be recruited from special operations and field agents using choice dialogue similar to how FTL does it.

 

On 5/18/2020 at 11:28 PM, Chris said:

Naturally, you'll get your revenge on the space station at the end of the game!

 

You should also have a choice in this as well. This could work by your decision in what to do with the station after invading it. Maybe you could take it over, destroy it or give it to either the US or USSR. Kinda like the ending to the first Deus Ex.

 

On 5/18/2020 at 11:28 PM, Chris said:

Alternate Ending:

Oh yes! The endings shouldn’t be too elaborate but not as simple as a “you win” screen like the first game. The best option to implement this is have it being similar to old RPGs ending screenshots having a slideshow and commentary on how your decisions changed the world (like Arcanum or the Fallout games). For instance if you decided to not share tech at all, overthrow both sides of the Cold War and takeover the UOO-1, the world would be under the complete control of the Xenonauts ruling it with a iron fist. If you decide to help both and destroy UOO-1, the status quo would continue, both sides continues to threaten each other with nuclear annihilation and Xenonauts is once again disbanded after serving its purpose. The other two endings will depends on the side you support. 

 

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I just came here to say how much I love the giant orbital laser. Playing the backer builds every now and then, just to see how things have changed and that zap, boom, city destroyed just came out of no where for me! It's a great big timer of, "this is what the player wants to stop." It's what the avatar project should have been in XCOM2. Something big and mean and fully understandable without any clear path to victory which makes just **want** to knab as much alien tech as you can as fast as you can. There will be no sitting around comfortably enduring the invasion day after day like in the end game of X-Com, there's skyfire to stop!

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The Example with the XCOM 2 / XCOM 2 WotC Avatar Project is perfect. That´s what make a Game interessting.

The Limiter in XCOM Enemy Unknown / Enemy Within is an Panic Level like here. The Limiter in XCOM 2 / XCOM 2 WotC is the Avatar Project. And in Phoenix Point it´s the Virus Nebula.

Such things you can handle for a while with Destroying that or doing whatever like Research something and share it with your Founders etc., but you can´t do anything until you get to the Main-Threat (in XCOM = Templer Ship; in XCOM 2 = T´Leth in the Atlantic; in Phoenix Point = ????). And here it´s the Alien-Orbital-Station wich you can destroy or you can talk to the Aliens and make a Conference as an Alternative.

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On 5/18/2020 at 7:28 PM, Chris said:

Orbital Bombardment:

It attacks too often. At least at a low level of difficulty. You can make the dependence of the duration of the attack recharge on the level of difficulty.

On 5/18/2020 at 7:28 PM, Chris said:

Liaison Offices (Scientist / Engineering Recruitment):

Additional buildings outside the bases - a very interesting and successful idea. Moreover, I propose to add the ability to upgrade these buildings. Spending money on upgrades to get more money is the basis of strategies. Protecting such structures will be a very important task. In addition, it would be useful to add the ability to build mini-radars outside the bases without the need to build new bases.

But strict restrictions on the number of scientists and engineers - terrible. You can change the method of hiring. For example, additional facilities for training scientists and engineers inside the bases.

At the moment, there is a great lack of scientists and engineers. This greatly slows down development. And complicates the game. Even at a low level of difficulty. Especially taking into account that nothing is bought here and everything that has been studied must be made yourself. In 3 months I built 3 bases and 4 fighters. That's all. 6 engineers just can't meet my needs for a successful game. Everything should depend on finances. No need to further complicate a difficult game, especially at a low level of difficulty. And in terms of research and construction, the basic version was implemented much better. There, if i have money - i am not limit myself. Quickly research and build everything i need. Restrictions on finances seem to me quite enough.

Another terrible idea is to limit the number of simultaneously active research and construction projects. The division of scientists and engineers into groups for different projects is much more profit and realistic. This is a very flexible system that allows you to change priorities at any time. Reduce staff for the current project to quickly complete another. Instead of waiting too long for the current one to end, or even worse to stop it.

Edited by MrAlex

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@MrAlex:

I understand your thougths, but if you would make it like in X-Com, UFO ET or Xenonauts 1 it will be borring. That´s why Xenonauts 2 goes an other way and bring in big differences in getting more Personal and limit it, which is great and a must have. You are a secret Organisation founded from the biggest Cold-War-Countrys (USA and Russia) as well as from the other big Blocks (EU, Ocianian, South America, Africa) from a secret Budget. So if you make yourself public you are very vulnurable to the Alien Spys, Alien Sabouteurs etc.

I aggree with the Orbital Bombardement, which reduces themselfs to 6 Days per Bombardement. That isn´t ballanced yet and will be startet with Beta 15 incl. the difficulty levels. Atm we have 1 difficulty level for testing the Game.

Yep the Outposts are very nice and the first step for the Game to make a big difference against his Predecessor. We testet already the Defence as well as the positve Effects from them in the Standard-Version. That the Outposts could be upgraded like Base-Buildings are a great Idea to make them more usefull. The Protection of that Outposts are already an extrem important task for the Xenononauts- and Human-Survivement.

Your Idea with the Mini-Radars and seperate fighter-Bases was testet in the first Beta-Tests and an similar Main-Base like in the new XCom "Enemy Unknown". The Public dosen´t want that, that´s why the Devs gone back to the already working system (we have again from old X1). An other Reason was that the Devs had the Plan to use working Systems from the Predecessor with many refits / reworks and new Implementations. But maybe your Idea will come back incl. Defence-Buildings, because the Buildup and Upkeep Costs for new Bases are to high and the new Geoscape-Refit make your Idea possible again.

The Limitations for Scientists and Engeneers I have already explained. Maybe we get upgrades from the Outposts with some more recruitments there, but still limited about the secrecy of your Organisation to the Public and esp. for the Aliens and her Human Spys.

The rework of the Geoscape, Ground Maps etc. make more Features for Scientists and Engeeners in your Bases useable which will be re-implemanted beginning with Beta 15 again and an must have Feature similar to the new XCom 2 / XCom 2 WotC. We testet such Features in the first Betas availible and get good results with them (like more Engergy from Generators, better Radar-Accuracy and Range).

An other new big Difference to all other Games of that Gerne is that your Bases get handeld similar like in the original X-Com Games, which means you have more choises to build up your Bases. Should it be a research-Base, a Production Base, a small fighter Base or a mixed one like your Main Base.

Now to the Feature of such Games, which makes your Argumentation inefficent. That shows that you haven´t played such Games like the old X-COM / new XCOM-Series, the UFO-After-Series or similar Fan Projects.

The Feature and Basic of such Games are that you have to collect the Ressources, Informations etc. from the Aliens and get a secret Founding for new Members (Soldiers etc.) from your Founder States. What you are doing with the less ressources are your Choise as Commander of that Secret Organisation to save the World. That bolongs on your long time Strategy / Tactics. That means that you can´t research a Laser-Weapon or Accelearted Ballistics and then say I wanna buy it from my Founders. Your Common Sense shows that isn´t possible, because you are the top cat in this time. With your Decissions and your small Personal the World will win or lose.

In every Game of that Gerne it will be so and that won´t change about a Gamer which have no clue about that Gerne. For that reason I give you a good Tip: Play the new XCOM-Series or UFO ET fully through to get an Clue about that Gerne before starting a discussion with us experts.

Edited by Alienkiller

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20 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

You are a secret Organisation founded from the biggest Cold-War-Countrys (USA and Russia) as well as from the other big Blocks (EU, Ocianian, South America, Africa) from a secret Budget. So if you make yourself public you are very vulnurable to the Alien Spys, Alien Sabouteurs etc.

It's very strange when I don't have the opportunity to hire scientists and engineers, although I can hire soldiers. Therefore, it is wrong to explain it by the secrecy of my organization. The fact that my organization is secret does not mean that I cannot secretly train personnel (scientists, engineers, soldiers) on my bases for my needs. Moreover, it would be more correct. If Xenonauts 2 wants to be different from other games, then with the change in the hiring of engineers and scientists, they need to change the hiring of soldiers. The option of training them on personal bases looks more realistic. After all, this is a strategy. And in my opinion, the construction of additional facilities for hiring soldiers, scientists and engineers will be more correct.

20 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

The rework of the Geoscape, Ground Maps etc. make more Features for Scientists and Engeeners in your Bases useable which will be re-implemanted beginning with Beta 15

It will be very interesting to test it.

20 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

An other new big Difference to all other Games of that Gerne is that your Bases get handeld similar like in the original X-Com Games, which means you have more choises to build up your Bases. Should it be a research-Base, a Production Base, a small fighter Base or a mixed one like your Main Base.

 And that's great. Because the original X-Com, though old, is better than a bad remake - new XCOM-Series.

20 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

Now to the Feature of such Games, which makes your Argumentation inefficent. That shows that you haven´t played such Games like the old X-COM / new XCOM-Series, the UFO-After-Series or similar Fan Projects.

I have played the original x-com (X-Com: UFO Defense) many times. I also played UFO Aftermas & UFO Extraterrestrials. I didn't play aftershock & afterlight and a new x-com. And, most likely, I will not. In those games, there is almost no way to control the interception of alien ships. The maximum you can just watch as UFOs shoot down your fighters. This implementation of air combat does not suit me at all, and it does not matter that they paid much attention to ground operations. In my opinion, air combat is a significant part of the gameplay that can not be ignored. They almost completely abandoned it and paid full attention to ground battles. 

I was very interested by Xenonauts mainly by the special implementation of air combat, where the player's skills significantly affect the outcome of the battle. I hope that the current implementation will only improve.

21 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

For that reason I give you a good Tip: Play the new XCOM-Series or UFO ET fully through to get an Clue about that Gerne before starting a discussion with us experts.

As I wrote above, I played Еxtraterrestrials. I have seen new XCOM many times in the reviews of other players. There are a lot of interesting novelties, but there are no tactics of air battles at all, so I do not plan to play it in the near future.

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Ok, if you played the Predecessors like UFO ET and the both X-COM-Series then I´m sorry. Such Arguments mostly comes from People which haven´t any clue of that Gerne.

Yep the Air-Battle in the new XCOM EU / EW wasn´t good, there I agree fully with you. That was the Reason that the Devs canceld it completly for XCOM 2 / XCOM 2 WotC. The same Effect we had in the UFO-After-Series.

The Airbattle in UFO ET is good, but not seperated, which gives big Pointreduction. We have to see what have changed here in UFO2ET (the Prehestory-Game for UFO ET). With the Upgrade-System the Devs had an new Idea (Shields / Armor), but the Potenial of that Idea they haven´t used.

The best Airbattles I agree with you too are in the old X-COM Series and Xeononauts 1 as well as in Xenonauts 2. But in Xenonauts 2 the Devs have the Posibility to use the Potential of the Airbattle fully now instead to make the same Mistake Chaos Concept did in UFO ET with such the Potential (like the Shields from some UFO´s and an Armor- / HP Differentation like for your Solders / Vehicles in Battles and Equipment).

What the other things belongs, we have to wait and see. But I think the Devs will make more Upgrade-Content for the Outposts to get your Special Personal (Scientists / Engeneers) there. That would be much more realistic like for the Agencys (like the FSB [previous KGB], CIA, FBI etc.), which would make the Geoscape more interesting too with the other things which comming step by Step. The same effect we have for our special Agents which get more and more by time automatically.

Edited by Alienkiller

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22 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

The Airbattle in UFO ET is good, but not seperated, which gives big Pointreduction.

Aerial combat in UFO ET is a bit like ufo after series. The player can command the fighters only to attack or retreat. But there is no complete control over the battle as in the original x-com (depending on the player's choice: careful attack from a long distance, or an aggressive attack in close combat. The use of missiles in manual mode at the right time)

The Xenonauts have it all, and even more. It is possible to dodge missiles, as well as attack from behind, where most of them are most vulnerable. This implementation of the battle is the best solution.

As for the differences between the Xenonauts and the Xenonauts 2, I did not like the automatic fighters evasion. However, this is a tactical game and the player must make every decision in battle himself. In addition, it does not always work in time. When it uses earlier than required or dodges in the wrong direction, the fighter still takes damage from the second missile.

As for the study of armor and shields for fighters, this is a really good idea

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I am sorry , the UOO idea is terrible

It completely ruins the idea of having a secret organization fighting aliens , No country on the planet will let some secret organization run things when whole cities are being destroyed , i know this is a game but that is just Ludacris
If New York or Kiev were destroyed by a huge laser from the sky , the entire planet will rise up to fight the aliens and there will be no budget limit on the Xenonauts organization 

it make 0 sense

Please try to find a different more realistic terror meter  

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UFONATIC, it´s a Main Part of the Game like the Templer Ships in the X-Com-Series and UFO ET-Series.

If you don´t like it, it´s your Problem now. It´s now a fix Part of the Game.

 

Edited by Alienkiller

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21 hours ago, UFONATIC said:

If New York or Kiev were destroyed by a huge laser from the sky , the entire planet will rise up to fight the aliens and there will be no budget limit on the Xenonauts organization 

The organization of Xenonauts is secret for many reasons. One of them is the impossibility of open confrontation against aliens. The main essence of the game is that no one is able to confront the aliens openly. Everyone knows about the invasion of aliens, because it is impossible not to notice the hundreds of flying ships that attack cities and terrorize their inhabitants. Orbital attack is just a way to show a significant technological advantage of aliens and complicate the gameplay.

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On 11/20/2020 at 1:38 AM, UFONATIC said:

I am sorry , the UOO idea is terrible

It completely ruins the idea of having a secret organization fighting aliens , No country on the planet will let some secret organization run things when whole cities are being destroyed , i know this is a game but that is just Ludacris
If New York or Kiev were destroyed by a huge laser from the sky , the entire planet will rise up to fight the aliens and there will be no budget limit on the Xenonauts organization 

it make 0 sense

Please try to find a different more realistic terror meter  

Even in X1 neither the invasion nor Xenonauts are TOTALLY secrets. The aliens are not invisible especially when they bomb or terrorize a city just like the X1 missions,the UOO is just speeding up the pace of such invasion. Though I do think that Alien invasion should be a step by step thing (Radar Disruptions -Scouting-Small scale Kidnapping- shooting down Airplanes- Attacking military targets - Oribital Bombarment.etc, like the progressing mood in X1), but UOO make sense  as the whole invasion or Xenonauts are not designed to be entirely secret in the first place.

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On 5/18/2020 at 7:28 PM, Chris said:

Liaison Offices (Scientist / Engineering Recruitment):

How to increase the number of Liaison Offices? I have only 3 of them available for construction. Without the construction of new ones, it is impossible to successfully continue the game, primarily due to orbital bombing. 

Scrreen.jpg

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There is a special Base-Buildung called Comms Room. You have to build them and then you can build up with every Coms Room 4 more Liason Officess.

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I had to look for that too the first time. But then I rememberd on XCOM 2 where you have a special room to increase such Liason Offices and looked for it in Xenonauts 2.

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