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Chris

Xenonauts-2 March Update

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Hello everyone, and welcome to our March update. The first thing to mention is that I'm currently working reduced hours because a terminally ill relative is reaching the end of their life, which means it's unlikely there will be any public releases (including the open beta) for the next four weeks or so. I'm now not sure exactly when the open beta will happen, but I'll let you know once my plans do start to return to normality.

However, the time I do have has been spent on project management and I'm therefore hoping overall progress on the project won't suffer too much as a result of my absence. We've also made some decent overall progress this month.

Air Combat:
A lot of the work we've done this month has been on the air combat. Beta V18 arrived at the start of the month and that contained our new air combat damage model where UFOs / aircraft now have both Armour HP and Hull HP, with weapons doing different amount of damage to each (damage is always assigned to Armour HP first). This allows us to differentiate between different types of tough UFOs, as different weapons are stronger against UFOs with lots of Armour HP compared to those that just have vast amounts of standard Hull HP.

This change added some welcome variety to the air combat, but it didn't change the fact that the air combat can be very repetitive. We've therefore spent the last couple of weeks trying out some new ideas to make it more reactive - the key change being that we've added a vision radius to all air combat units, added clouds that block vision (and weapons cannot fire though), and set UFOs to only go into attack / escape behaviour when they spot your aircraft.

The basic idea is to generate more interesting combat scenarios. The early tests suggest that these new systems do make everything more interesting but we'll probably need to build further upon them to make the most out of them. We've got a whole bunch of cool ideas but I won't talk about them yet, as I suspect not all of them will work as well in the game as they do in my head!

Item Accuracy Effects:
We've added a generic system that allows us to set basic logic on items that modifies their accuracy - e.g. if a soldier has less than 60 Strength, give -1 Accuracy for each Strength below 60. This is interesting because it allows us to add unique values to certain weapons, for example we could say Laser weapons are easy to use so a soldier gets +0.5 Accuracy for each point of Accuracy below 65. This potentially means Lasers would remain viable weapons for rookie soldiers even towards the end of the game, without making them overpowered in the early game.

We've also been looking at how to support Recoil. We can now easily add in the system from the original Xenonauts (the 60 Strength example given in the paragraph above) but we've been experimenting with a system where the accuracy of each subsequent shot in a burst is reduced by a set percentage. For example, a weapon with 20% recoil and 50% hit chance would have the following hit chances in a 5-round burst: 50%, 40%, 32%, 25%, 20%.

This setup means we should be able to permit the option for longer bursts. Short bursts are relatively accurate but cost a lot of TU per shot, whereas longer bursts are more TU efficient but waste ammo.

This becomes interesting because you can do two things - firstly, we can add in a recoil penalty for certain weapons depending on whether they have moved (representing a bipod). So a machinegun might be able to shoot relatively accurate long bursts provided the shooter had not moved, whereas only short bursts would be worthwhile if the user had moved. Secondly, we can use the generic system mentioned above to modify Recoil based on the Strength of the soldier so that stronger soldiers suffer less from the effects of recoil.

Taken together these systems just allow us to differentiate the weapons a bit more and give the player a few more tactical decisions, without rendering weapons like the LMG completely useless if they aren't fired from a stationary position. I imagine modders will also find them useful tools.

General Progress:
We've added quite a lot of new art for various vehicle weapons, we've added support for keybindings, we've made a number of usability improvements to the tactical combat based on feedback on our Steam demo, and we've added proper jetpack movement to the game too. There's also been lots of smaller fixes / additions not worth individually mentioning.

That's it from me for now. I'm probably not going to be very active on the forums for the next month or so, but I'll update you on our progress as usual at the end of April!

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All of these changes look very interesting and fun to try, good job to you and your team. 

If you have the time, I am very curious to know how you are planning to implement features like geoscape situations and human psionics, with the psionics in particular. Are you going to implement human psionics as a brand new weapon type into the game or are you implementing it in some other way? 

If you read this post, thank you for your time and know that you can spend as much time as you want and need with your loved ones.

 

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20 minutes ago, Emily_F said:

You have to be in prone to use a bipod. 

Or on a window or low wall. Or you can hold the bipod in the other hand possibly as a forward grip.

I think the mechanism still holds well, as a prepared shooter can hit targets better even if her firing position is suboptimal.

@Chris how expandable will the recoil mechanism for modders be? can you e.g. delay the recoil effect, meaning e.g. the first three shots hit with full accuracy and then it takes effect, or with a "stopping" accuracy where it does not deteriorate further? Does this influence the projectile spread pattern? Apart from that, I find the inclusion of sight blocks in the air game an interesting way to widen the decision space. I am curious though; why should you not be able to shoot through clouds? Are you considering utility items on planes that can create clouds? Strong wind currents that influence your movement could also be interesting to explore.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Chris for the March-Update. As a Beta-Tester I could test some of the announced Features in Beta 18 with other active Beta-Testers too.

@Dagar @Kamehamehayes: Yep, Geoscape Operations / Geoscape Situations will come in, but we don´t know when. In earlyer Beta-Versions there were projections of that for testing. The second Part from the Airfight-Refits / Aircraft-Refits we active Beta-Testers haven´t seen too, means this will come in Beta 19 (Open or Closed Beta) first.

The new Item Accuracy Effects we active Testers haven´t seen too in the last big Beta-Version (Beta 18), so that will be a new Feature in Beta 19 too (Open or Closed Beta).

Edited by Alienkiller

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16 hours ago, Chris said:

Item Accuracy Effects:

Speaking of changes in the accuracy system, it would be great to add an evasion parameter. Thus, small and fragile aliens (such as psions without heavy armor) as well as soldiers of the player who do not have heavy armor will be less likely to take damage from a great distance. Thus, they will be more effective for long-distance combat.
And large and tenacious aliens (such as androns and sebilians) as well as soldiers with heavy armor and the player's vehicles will have poor evasion and will more often receive damage from long distances, so they will be more effective for combat at close range.

I think it will improve the balance of tactical battles and make them even more interesting and similar to real ones.

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Posted (edited)

The Battles are interessting like they are. It´s like in the new XCOM-Row a gambling. Either you hit or you hit not. I would make it like in the new XCOM-Row.

New XCOM is making it fully correctly, that the Kevlar-Standard-Armor from Humans reduces Range, Speed and Evasive. In that I aggree with you MrAlex, that´s realistic. Light Kevlar-Vests / the new Vests from Alien Material and the beginning Suits instead are boost the Range, Speed and Evasive. It will look like this:

1. Standard-Suit without Protection (Beginning): That´s for Snipers, Grenadiers, Riflemens, Breachers and Tag Holders. Maximum Mobility, Range and Evasive like it is.

2. Standard-Suit with Kevlar-Armor-Protection (Beginning): That´s for Shotgunners, Infantry and Heavy Gunners / MG-Gunners. Reduced Range about the Weight. Medium Reduction in Speed and Evasive to Standard.

3. Standard-Suit with new light [Name forgotten] Vest-Protection after R & D from Alien Materials: No Change in Mobility, Range and Evasive for the Wearers. Light Protection-Upgarde for the Wearer!

4. Standard-Suit with the upgraded Kevlar-Armor-Protection: Same as with Kevlar-Armor-Protection, but increased Protection for the Wearer!

5. New Armor R & D´s: Increase in Range, about reduced Weight. Light Reduction in Speed and Evasive. Add-Ons like Jetpack and similar increase the Range, Speed and Evasive!

6. The [Name forgotten]-Vest get upgradeable to the Medical-Vests (and other new R & D-Vests) without loosing it´s light Protection.

 

 

Edited by Alienkiller

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Posted (edited)
On 3/31/2021 at 11:42 AM, Alienkiller said:

The Battles are interessting like they are. It´s like in the new XCOM-Row a gambling. Either you hit or you hit not.

At the moment, the aliens are poorly balanced. Small and vulnerable psions often do not survive even a single hit. When the Sebilians are a very tenacious race (from 3 to 5+ hits), which also regenerates its HP. If it doesn't die in the current round, it is likely that it will survive the first shot in the next. And if the player's soldiers also miss, it becomes even more difficult to kill Sebilian.
Their survivability should be offset by low accuracy, but this is not the case. In the last game against the Sebilians, one of them killed my soldier by hitting from a very long distance twice in a row (it used a rifle with a single shot 2 times). I thought it was just lucky, but the same thing happened in 4 cases with 5 attempts (when I loaded my saved game).

It seems that the Sebilians are not inferior to the Psions in terms of accuracy, while their survivability is many times higher. In my opinion, they are the strongest race in ground battles at the moment.

Edited by MrAlex

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7 hours ago, MrAlex said:

It seems that the Sebilians are not inferior to the Psions in terms of accuracy, while their survivability is many times higher. In my opinion, they are the strongest race in ground battles at the moment.

Yeah, that is a balance issue, especially with what is written about them in the UFOpedia. They should have reduced accuracy, especially at range (and should have a short viewing distance and field of view).  There are other aliens that have balance issues too.  My most despised alien of them all being the Reapers. 

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I'm not surprised that the reapers are one of the most unbalanced aliens. If they dont have enough hitpoints they die to reaction shots too quickly to be threatening and if they have too much then they are too difficult to kill and they get close enough to you guys to infect them. It is a very delicate balance that makes it really difficult to balance. 

I'm not exactly sure how to balance reapers, maybe buffing stuns grenades so they deal more damage  to reapers and scare them off more could help to deal with reapers being too strong. 

Sebellians should definitely have less vision, should be more inaccurate, or both in order to balance them better. 

I cant say anything about the other alien races since I haven't played the game yet. 

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Posted (edited)

Full Ballances will come after everything is implemented, not before. Means, before Early Access and the final Betas we have to life with it.

Thats sad, but the only way to save time, Ressources and whatever. And after everything get ballanced, we will get sometimes :mad:, because we wont win a Mission or lose our Soldiers faster then we can say Iwo Jima.

I have that in XCOM: EU / EW and all XCOM 2 Parts where the Chryssalides and other Dangerous Aliens show up. There the Aliens are very good ballanced and use your Weak Points very fast. That means we all have to find a middleway then.

Edited by Alienkiller

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Dude we understand that a full balance patch will come months in the future, that doesn't mean you bold, underline, and supersize your post. 

I dont see an issue with giving balancing  suggestions to the devs well before it is going to be implemented, that is why these forums are here. 

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Yeah Kamehamehayes, but everytime to nerve the Devs with Ballance that and that with the knowledge of still big missing Parts for the Game are counterproductive.

The Devs know that Ballance-Work is needed, but it dosen´t make sense to do it now.

We are atm in Cloesed-Beta-Phase which is good. But much worser it will be with the new open Beta-Peoples, esp. in that things and nerving with more Ballance in the not finished Bring-In-, Features-, Rework-, Refit-, Bugfix-Phases (Betaphase II).

In that Case I decided to phropylactic bring all down to Earth again with that Announcement. If nessecarry I will do it again.

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