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Chris

Xenonauts-2 February Update

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This months' update is coming slightly early because I wanted to explain why V18 hasn't arrived early this week like we originally planned (it's likely to come out Friday this week or early next week). Progress has been good overall but we've been working on somewhat different things to what we originally had planned.

Most of this has come about due to the Steam Demo that we released earlier this month. The reception to this was generally good, but we also saw a lot of people who bounced off the game because they just didn't understand what was going on and how the controls worked. Reading the feedback from players and seeing what streamers struggled with when they played the game gave us a good opportunity to try and improve the controls and accessibility of the game, as a lot of the pre-release feedback we get tends to be from experienced X-Com / Xenonauts players who already know the controls.

Usability Improvements:
We have therefore implemented a number of systems that make things easier for players. Many of these things are small things - the fire path better shows when weapons are being fired beyond range, the camera briefly focuses on newly-sighted aliens, bleeding wounds are more clearly displayed, etc - but we've added a number of larger new systems too.

The first of these is the "soldier finished" system that exists in classic X-Com and was added to Xenonauts by the Community Edition. There is now a "done" button you can click to select a soldier as finished for the turn, and it will automatically select the next soldier that is not finished. If you click it and all your soldiers are now marked as finished, the turn Ends. Additionally, clicking the End Turn button will now check whether there are any "forgotten" soldiers (i.e. not marked as done, and have not spent any TU) and automatically select them if there are. This just ensures the player doesn't accidentally forget about their soldiers, and I think in practice there won't be many situations where it's annoying (although you can just Ctrl+click the End Turn button to instantly the end turn if you want).

We've also updated the "ability buttons" that appear above the UI in the tactical combat and allow you to select the different weapon fire modes and reload / throw grenades, etc. The most important change is that these are now a "stance" - clicking a button to set a fire mode as active just means that fire mode will be used when you hover over an alien, or when you activate free fire mode by holding Ctrl. Clicking the button no longer activates "sticky" free fire mode (which can only be cancelled by pressing Esc) unless it's a specialist item like a grenade or a medikit.

This change to free fire mode is probably the biggest usability change we've made. Free fire mode allows you to target anything, so it's very fiddly and it's easy to accidentally click a nearby object such as the ground tile that the target is standing on rather than the target themselves - we saw a lot of people doing this in the demo. The standard targetting method where the game only shows a fire crosshair over things you actually want to shoot at is the best method of targetting in most instances, and if you do want to use free fire mode then it's much easier to simply hold Ctrl as you can then cancel it by letting go of Ctrl (having to press Esc is much more clunky).

Key Rebindings:
We've also been experimenting with some changes to the control system. I'm unsure if we'll persist with these control system changes, but we've implemented key rebinding functionality so people can switch them back if they don't like our changes (plus it's something we'd have needed to implement before anyway). This system was a surprising amount of work but we're in the process of ironing out the final few kinks with it right now.

Air Combat Rebalance:
I've mostly been busy with the air combat for the past couple of weeks. The first balance pass is now complete, so interceptors and their equipment are now balanced to inflict and recieve the appropriate amount of damage when fighting different tiers of UFOs. The various items are set up in the research tree, and as part of V18 we'll now be able to start balancing the air war in the context of the campaign (are aircraft too expensive, do they unlock at the right point in the tech tree, etc).

Several new systems / changes will be made to the X1 air combat model. Only the first of these (a change to the way Armour works) has been implemented so far, but you'll likely be seeing more polish added to the air combat in the next month or two.

Animations & Particles:
A curveball recently thrown our way was that our animator / particle artist needed to finish up his contract with us sooner than we anticipated, so we had to devote some extra resources to making sure all his work was done before he departed. Various kinds of new explosions have been added to the game and we've got some gib animations done too, but the two big things we've been looking at are the jetpack movement animations and the Reaper zombie transform animations.

The jetpack animation work is fairly straightforward (it works the same as in the first Xenonauts), but we're planning the Reaper zombies to work a little differently. Instead of replacing the unfortunate target with a generic zombie unit, what will now happen is that the target falls dead to the ground and will then rise back to life with a special set of zombie animations and an additional "covered in blood" texture. Not only does this look cooler, we might be able to make it more interesting from a gameplay perspective too - e.g. the zombie could retain any remaining Armour HP that the unfortunate victim had when they were killed.

The jetpack work is now mostly done and the animation work on the new zombies is now done too, but we still need to implement all the code for the zombies. I'm not sure if they'll arrive in V18 yet or whether you'll have to wait until V19, but they'll definitely be a big improvement over the current zombification visuals when they do arrive!

Performance Improvements & Stability Issues:
We've done a load of other work, but I'll close out by mentioning that we've dramatically improved the speed of our prerequisite system. This system is a piece of code that governs many different parts of the game - everything from when research projects are unlocked, when UFOs spawn, which units can equip which items, anything to do with the power capacity / living capacity / stores capacity systems, etc.

We've rewritten this to speed it up and give us access to more functionality, and in some cases it's made the Geoscape up to 100 times faster than before. There are still plenty of other slowdowns on the Geoscape that are caused by other things, but it should hopefully fix the persistent slowdown that starts to occur as the game enters the mid / late game (particularly if there's an alien base on the map).

Sadly, because the prerequisites are used so widely we have ended up having to deal with a lot of bugs in a lot of different systems. I think we've now found and fixed most of them but I imagine V18 is going to have some stability issues when it is first released!

As I mentioned at the top of the post, we're hoping to put V18 out either at the end of this week or the start of next week. We've been working hard on it for a while now but we keep finding little gremlins that slow us down .. but we're nearly there now. Should be quite a few new interesting things to play with when it does arrive, so keep your eyes peeled!

 

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@Chris

Since it has been awhile since the Open Beta was announced, do you have a better idea of when you are going to release the Open Beta? If you do, are you going to release it earlier or later in the month?

I am extremely excited about it so I just got to know.

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It´s better we test that one in an closed Beta, because the Public have an advantage to us with the new Maps they could test and use, while we are in an disadvantage. First if we Main-Testers have the same level, then the Open-Beta could start.

The other Reason (Main-Reason) is that we can give the Public an more Stable Version (V.19 or better V.20), because Chris Mentioned that V.18 have still some unstabilitys. And if you give the Public such a medium to light unstable Version, then the Shitstorm is more then Big. In that Case it´s better to test the new Implementations and done Refits, Reworks, Changes, Bugfixes etc. as an Closed-Beta-Version (V.18 with Fixes, evtl. V.19 with Fixes too) and End March we can start with the announced Open Beta.

That´s why UFO2ET get very very long in Closed Beta (many Years) and is still in Closed Final-Test for full Public-Release. Announced is this Autom (March or April).

Edited by Alienkiller

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8 hours ago, Chris said:

There is now a "done" button you can click to select a soldier as finished for the turn, and it will automatically select the next soldier that is not finished. If you click it and all your soldiers are now marked as finished, the turn Ends. Additionally, clicking the End Turn button will now check whether there are any "forgotten" soldiers (i.e. not marked as done, and have not spent any TU) and automatically select them if there are. This just ensures the player doesn't accidentally forget about their soldiers, and I think in practice there won't be many situations where it's annoying (although you can just Ctrl+click the End Turn button to instantly the end turn if you want).

I do not consider such a feature necessary. I would probably shoot myself if I had to press the "Done" button 16 times on each turn. It's great that I can avoid this by pressing control + next turn click. Thank you for reporting this opportunity.

8 hours ago, Chris said:

Air Combat Rebalance:

I'm looking forward to seeing it

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5 hours ago, MrAlex said:

I do not consider such a feature necessary. I would probably shoot myself if I had to press the "Done" button 16 times on each turn. It's great that I can avoid this by pressing control + next turn click. Thank you for reporting this opportunity.

I'm looking forward to seeing it

Remember the End Turn button only shows you soldiers that aren't marked as done AND haven't spent any TU. Unless you're frequently leaving soldiers waiting on full TU then this system won't affect you at all (except if you do forget a soldier) even if you totally ignore it.

10 hours ago, Kamehamehayes said:

@Chris

Since it has been awhile since the Open Beta was announced, do you have a better idea of when you are going to release the Open Beta? If you do, are you going to release it earlier or later in the month?

I am extremely excited about it so I just got to know.

Glad to hear you're excited. We don't know exactly when we'll do the release yet, but most likely later in the month.

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19 minutes ago, Chris said:

Remember the End Turn button only shows you soldiers that aren't marked as done AND haven't spent any TU. Unless you're frequently leaving soldiers waiting on full TU then this system won't affect you at all (except if you do forget a soldier) even if you totally ignore it.

I don't understand why we need a Done button. You can just reporting on soldiers who have not spent a single TU.

Very often I spend part of the TU with one of the soldiers, then switch to the others. And at the end of the turn, I may need extra action from this soldier. Therefore, until all the soldiers have made thair move, it makes no sense to press "Done" button by the soldier who has some TU. If the system responds only to soldiers who has full TU, then this button is not needed.

Edited by MrAlex
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46 minutes ago, MrAlex said:

I don't understand why we need a Done button. You can just reporting on soldiers who have not spent a single TU.

Very often I spend part of the TU with one of the soldiers, then switch to the others. And at the end of the turn, I may need extra action from this soldier. Therefore, until all the soldiers have made thair move, it makes no sense to press "Done" button by the soldier who has some TU. If the system responds only to soldiers who has full TU, then this button is not needed.

I agree, you shouldn't have to click a done button many times to end your turn (and you might take extra actions with hat soldier later in the turn), though I do agree that the new system is great for helping newer players get in. We could compromise, instead of having a "done" button we could instead just alert the player if a soldier has 75% or more Tu left when they click the end turn button. This would also solve the issue without having to click a "done" button for every soldier. 

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I know that form the older Xenonauts (XCE-Version) too. The XCE-Version is very important for the Mods and bugfixing for the older Xenonatus Game. 

I haven´t used that button, but it´s nice to have. Not everything that´s old is bad. I see it in Hoi 4 with Features comming back form Hoi 2 and 3 in an much better playable Game.

Why not for Xenonauts 2, we already have such Features back in newer Graphics and much esayer Management back (like the Basemanagement and Airfight) and other cool things which the Modders / XCE-Version (new Equipment-Screen, Upgrades etc.) tried in the older Game to implement. That programming isn´t finished yet and older perfect to excellent working Features from X1 as well as complete new ones can be combined to make a great Game.

Esp. for Gamers which come from the older 2D Xenonatus and for a stability Game. We all know the first Beta-Versions and what worked good as well as bad. Such older implementations (some as gap-Fillers / some as Main-Part) we and the Devs don´t make for fun. The other reason is that we need a stable Xenonauts 2 Base Game and many older Features in new robe work perfect with new Features / Implementations.

Maybe some will be overworked earlyer or later. But not atm, because we have a limitet Budget and with some little gimmicks the Devs saved collected Money and Reserves not to go in an unstable Early Access. That give us up to 5 or 6 Month more Time (I think to the End Summer) to make an stable Early Access-Start with about all things and Features implemented.

An other Main-Reason is, that we can see what the direct Competitor (UFO2ET) make better or worser. 

 

What makes me very angry is, that People which haven´t testet a new Feature say we don´t need or that. I have that Discussions for Xenonauts 2 on Steam many times with fixed Opinions and the People there haven´t testet or seen the Game.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

I know that form the older Xenonauts (XCE-Version) too. The XCE-Version is very important for the Mods and bugfixing for the older Xenonatus Game. 

I haven´t used that button, but it´s nice to have. Not everything that´s old is bad. I see it in Hoi 4 with Features comming back form Hoi 2 and 3 in an much better playable Game.

Why not for Xenonauts 2, we already have such Features back in newer Graphics and much esayer Management back (like the Basemanagement and Airfight) and other cool things which the Modders / XCE-Version (new Equipment-Screen, Upgrades etc.) tried in the older Game to implement. That programming isn´t finished yet and older perfect to excellent working Features from X1 as well as complete new ones can be combined to make a great Game.

Esp. for Gamers which come from the older 2D Xenonatus and for a stability Game. We all know the first Beta-Versions and what worked good as well as bad. Such older implementations (some as gap-Fillers / some as Main-Part) we and the Devs don´t make for fun. The other reason is that we need a stable Xenonauts 2 Base Game and many older Features in new robe work perfect with new Features / Implementations.

Maybe some will be overworked earlyer or later. But not atm, because we have a limitet Budget and with some little gimmicks the Devs saved collected Money and Reserves not to go in an unstable Early Access. That give us up to 5 or 6 Month more Time (I think to the End Summer) to make an stable Early Access-Start with about all things and Features implemented.

An other Main-Reason is, that we can see what the direct Competitor (UFO2ET) make better or worser. 

 

What makes me very angry is, that People which haven´t testet a new Feature say we don´t need or that. I have that Discussions for Xenonauts 2 on Steam many times with fixed Opinions and the People there haven´t testet or seen the Game.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can understand that people like you can be frustrated that people are criticizing the game without properly playing it (like me), but that doesn't mean that their criticism is inherently wrong. I'm just saying that there might be another way to get to the same conclusion that might solve other people's gripes with the new system. If you don't agree with my or other people's points, you can say so and give reasons why so we can have a discussion. 

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I say only to that: If you make an Opinion on a Game, Movie, Series or simililar, then first play / test / view it (belongs what it is). Then and only then an Opionion can given, not before.

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The "stance" and new free fire mode seem a clever change, hope it fixes most of the problems newcomers have and it feels better to play. I think this kind of subtle enhancements are more important for the open beta than just more content.

 

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15 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

What makes me very angry is, that People which haven´t testet a new Feature say we don´t need or that.

I think the developers spent a lot of time on this, although they could have solved the problem in a simpler way. I definitely do not need it, although perhaps among the new audience there will be fans of this, we'll see.

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May I ask you something all of you? Why we actually talking about Button - Game is designed to 2 way of combat --- Nr 1 - Run into enemy + Get shot or shot enemy(where 50% chance end up in miss) = Die or Lucky survive. Nr 2 --- Farming Reflex on your soldiers where you create ambush and your soldiers Suppress/kill alien with 0 casualty on your side.

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1 hour ago, CaptainSPrice said:

Game is designed to 2 way of combat

There is a third option. Careful reconnaissance and killing of aliens in the distance, or using shelter and smoke grenades to avoid damage while getting closer to the enemy.

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48 minutes ago, MrAlex said:

There is a third option. Careful reconnaissance and killing of aliens in the distance, or using shelter and smoke grenades to avoid damage while getting closer to the enemy.

Smoke nade spam = ABUSE

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5 minutes ago, CaptainSPrice said:

Smoke nade spam = ABUSE

This was an abuse when they gave 100% protection even if the target was in an adjacent tile. Now it is an additional protective feature for a skilled commander.

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4 minutes ago, MrAlex said:

This was an abuse when they gave 100% protection even if the target was in an adjacent tile. Now it is an additional protective feature for a skilled commander.

You mean mechanics where i throw smoke nades at aliens and i dont need any other Stun tools xD

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3 minutes ago, CaptainSPrice said:

You mean mechanics where i throw smoke nades at aliens and i dont need any other Stun tools xD

I mean reduced accuracy when shooting through smoke. The Stun must be adjusted in the next updates, otherwise the stun gas will not be needed.

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18 hours ago, CaptainSPrice said:

May I ask you something all of you? Why we actually talking about Button - Game is designed to 2 way of combat --- Nr 1 - Run into enemy + Get shot or shot enemy(where 50% chance end up in miss) = Die or Lucky survive. Nr 2 --- Farming Reflex on your soldiers where you create ambush and your soldiers Suppress/kill alien with 0 casualty on your side.

There is an Nr 3 method. Shoot and bomb the space in front of you, covered with the fog of war, and only then move forward.

The closed area is conveniently suppressed by machine gun fire.

Edited by Komandos

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Just a bit about wounded soldiers. It would be an advantage to have their names flash in red if critically wounded and bleeding out; this catches the attention! Just a small improvement but a nice attention to detail. I remember this was the case for Rebelstar on the ZX spectrum (one of the very first tactical combat games released in 1986). If J Gollup can do it on the speccy then you guys most certainly can!

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12 hours ago, ooey said:

It would be an advantage to have their names flash in red if critically wounded and bleeding out; this catches the attention!

This won't be necessary if the developers add mind control and bleeding icons to the top bar with soldiers' faces

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Cool, thanks for the update :) I don't need you guys to rush. Whenever it's ready is good for me.

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13 hours ago, MrAlex said:

This won't be necessary if the developers add mind control and bleeding icons to the top bar with soldiers' faces

Maybe, but flashing says "urgent" to me. Maybe a flashing bleeding icon? It's a good way to get someones attention.

Edited by ooey

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When a soldier receives a bleeding wound, the game shows a message before the start of the move. You only need a small mark in the top list of soldiers to make it easier to find this soldier.

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