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Chris

Xenonauts-2 June Update!

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Hi everyone - it's only been three weeks since my last update, but the plan is for me to do these updates here on the forums on a monthly basis now. That will then allow Paul to edit them into something a bit more appropriate for a wider audience (i.e. less detailed, more art) and post them everywhere else.

Development Progress:
Over the last three weeks we've been working on a whole bunch of different things. The biggest news was probably the release of Closed Beta V13 on our Experimental branch, which is our first new build in quite a while. Unsurprisingly the build was kinda buggy and has already had one hotfix, but we'll be releasing at least one more hotfix as there's still several more serious bugs that have been reported. However it's always good to have people testing the game and finding the problems.

Personally I've spent a fair bit of my time on the writing. I've completed twenty three of the research reports over the past six weeks or so, and there's a number more that are half-finished or were written previously and just need a little updating to mesh with the new setting. I feel like I've already done most of the hard work in terms of creating an internally consistent setting for the game, and now I'm just slotting things into it - which means the writing is going faster than when I was having to think long and hard about how to answer all the "big questions" in a logical way.

A couple of these projects are starting lore projects that are already unlocked in the Xenopedia at the start of the game, and don't pop-up on the Geoscape (explaining the updated Iceland Incident story, plus the details on why your starting interceptor is so much more effective against alien technology than other aircraft). Anyway, this has required a few simple code changes, and in the next month we're also planning to spend a bit more time on the Xenopedia in general. At the moment the UI styling is inconsistent and every project is just added into a big unsorted list, whereas it should be set up so that each project goes under a category heading that is expandable / collapsible.

The other major area we've been targeting are the ground missions, but the progress here has been a bit slower. We're continuing to work on the new art style and hopefully soon we'll have the first set of maps built with these new tiles. I suspect most people will consider the new art a visual improvement, but even if not the new style is undeniably more restful on the eyes - it's much easier to see the important things on the battlefield (the aliens and the cover objects). For all of its faults, one of the strong points of the terrain art in X1 was that it was relatively clean and clear. Anyway, I'll probably be showing some of this new art off in the next update.

We've also continued to work on the code for the ground combat. Getting the hull-hiding system for the UFOs working properly continues to be a pain, but it's mostly working now. The night missions are largely functional but need a couple of fixes and we still need to add minor details like the headlights to the vehicles, etc. If we have time we also want to spend some time looking into fixing a few of the rough edges in the ground comabt - the camera jerking around and not showing the action during the alien turn and the fact that units take a couple of seconds to play their death animation after suffering lethal damage are two things that spring to mind.

Finally, we've been spending time on the preparations for mod support. Making something moddable requires us to save the data in editable text files rather than having it hardcoded in the game's code, and since our last update we've moved the base buildings out into text files. We're also in the process of moving all the unit loadouts, UFO crews and UFO missions into text files too. Once this is done pretty much everything in the game will (theoretically) editable by modders - but in practice, modding the files is going to be hard without a mod editor tool to help you.

We've therefore also been chatting to Solver about community involvement in the mod tools, because the tools we use are embedded in Unity and aren't exactly user-friendly. Goldhawk is planning to do a bit of work to prepare the code interface so external coders are able to build tools that can easily read and write to these text data files (and eventually hook into our mod management system), and then we'll let the community coders have a look at it and see if they're able to build anything useful on those foundations. There's no guarantee that anything will come of this, but I think it's definitely an opportunity worth exploring!

Early Access plans:
We're still not ready to set a formal Early Access date but our plans are progressing. We've decided to target an "Early Access build" that is time-limited to only contain the first three months or so of the campaign, which in X1 terms will take you roughly up to Landing Ships. The "full" builds will be accessible on a seperate branch for anyone that wants to play the whole game, but the default build people encounter when they buy the Early Access for the game will be this time-limited build.

The reason for this is that it's much easier to get the content in place the first third of the game than it is to do it for the whole game. For Early Access we want to give most players a quick taste of the game that makes them confident that they've bought a game that they will enjoy once released, but doesn't allow them to accidentally play into the sections of the game that contain missing content or have balance issues that might spoil the game for them (or even just to burn through all the content before the game is ready to properly play). Anyone that wants to test the full game can just switch branches, but they'll hopefully do so in the knowledge that they're going to experience much less polished content.

I'll be announcing an Early Access date for the game once I've finished writing all the research reports that appear in this part of the game and also created three maps per biome for each of the UFOs / ground missions in that section of the game (these maps will need to include the new UFO style and support night missions). At that point, we'll announce a date 2-3 months in the future and frantically start polishing the game to make the Early Access build as enjoyable as possible.

The big unknown is still the maps right now. We're going to need another couple of weeks for the new art to solidify before we can make a decision on how best to move forwards with them, unfortunately. Anyway, hopefully that wall of text gives you guys a fairly clear idea of what we're working on at the moment!

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TLDR: lore, maps, mods, EA.

Completely finishing the first months will be cool. I suggest making the 3-month campaign harder than in the final game, because most campaigns try to not kill you in the first 3 months, and a campaign where you can't lose is no fun.

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Not that I wouldn't like the game to be harder, because I personally would (I'll probably be playig it on max difficulty), but I think that might give the wrong impression of the final product? 

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You will get Modfunction when the Game is ready for it. It isn´t yet, but the cool things from the first Game and the implementation in the second form Mod-Ideas from X1 are great.

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Posted (edited)

Only having 3 months playable in early access is a great idea. I can imagine new modules being unlocked as its released while current content is kept tight keeping players interested and making the right first initial impression on Steam. If you could complete the game on day one it may be detrimental after it goes gold considering how some treat early access.

 

Edited by roxxed

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In one Day wont happen. To produce a good Game will take about 6 Years. If it get DLC´s it will be in Development for more than 12 Years to make a very good or if you are lucky great Game from the good Basic.

Best Examples are atm: Hoi 4, BSG Galactica, Stellaris, Galactic Civilications III as well as the new XCOM-Series and Phoenix Point.

Xenonauts 2 will be in the Basic after it´s ready in the good to very good status, from what we can already test.

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