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Xenonauts-2 January 2022 Update!


Chris
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Hello everyone - apologies for this update being a little late, I had a couple of things I wanted to finish up before I started telling everyone about them.

The first thing to discuss is public builds, and the fact we haven't released one recently. We've been working on a couple of big systems that required a significant campaign rebalance once implemented, some systems that required UI updates, and we've also been working on the Cleaner missions that happen right at the start of the game. Anything we put out before that work was finished would have been almost unplayable. Hopefully the next public build will be coming in about two weeks - but with all these changes, I'm expecting it to need several iterations on the Experimental branch before it becomes a better gameplay experience than the most recent V22 build!

The first big change we've been working on is the Armour system. For simplicity, we've now unified the armour system in the tactical combat and the air combat so Armour is a flat reduction on incoming damage (e.g. 30 damage hitting a target with 10 Armour does 20 damage). However, there's a wider variety of armour penetration and armour destruction on the various weapons in the tactical combat compared to the first Xenonauts, so the player is now presented with more decisions about the best order to use their attacks. We've added a new grenade that inflicts limited damage on units but is excellent at removing terrain and shredding armour, and we'll be experimenting with armour-piercing ammo for ballistic / Gauss weapons this month too. 

These armour mechanics have also been applied to the Air Combat, along with quite a few other changes. I've done another balancing pass on the air combat because Xenonauts 2 has added a new type of weapon to the air combat - the energy lance (alongside cannons, missiles and torpedoes). Previously this weapon type lacked any real individual identity and part of the rationale for the armour changes was to give all four types of weapon their own niche:

  • Cannons are short-range, high DPS (damage per second) weapons with 40 ammo. They do low damage per shot so armour reduces their damage significantly, but they also shred armour relatively quickly. Cannons will kill most things but require you to get in close and stay there, which can be very dangerous against UFOs with powerful weapons.
  • Missiles are long range and high damage weapons, but only have 4 ammo. They do excellent burst damage so are great at destroying unarmoured UFOs (e.g. Fighter UFOs) before they can attack you, and can also quickly kill other types of UFO if another weapon is used to strip the armour off them first.
  • Torpedoes are long range weapons with excellent armour destruction, but only have 2 ammo and are slow and easily avoided by agile UFOs. Hitting an armoured UFO with torpedos will quickly strip away its armour and leave it vulnerable to other types of weapon.
  • Energy lances are medium range weapons with medium DPS and good armour destruction, and 15 shots. They act somewhat like torpedoes, but trade a shorter range and a slower rate of fire for more ammunition, more versatility, and the ability to hit agile UFOs.

In addition to this, there's been two other major changes to the air combat. Firstly, there is now a "deployment phase" at the start of the air combat where you can set your interceptors up anywhere around the edge of the map, allowing you to group them together or split them and approach the UFO from multiple sides. The type of tactics you want to use are likely to vary based on the type of UFO and the fire arcs of its weapons (and whether it has weapons capable of attacking multiple interceptors at once). You don't get to deploy freely if UFOs on an air superiority mission attack you, however!

Secondly, I've reverted the change where interceptors are always built in squadrons of three. We're back to the original system where aircraft are built individually, and our new approach to balancing the air combat is that UFOs gain some additional HP and Armour for each additional interceptor taking part in the battle. It's still advantageous to send more interceptors into battle against a UFO, but this just gives the player more flexibility in their approach - a single well-equipped advanced interceptor can often now be just as effective as a full squadron of three more primitive interceptors (the latter was almost always better in X1). The convenient lore explanation for this is larger squadrons are more easily detected as they approach the UFO, giving it more time to power up its emergency shielding and prepare for combat. I'm aware this doesn't 100% make sense, but I think the gameplay benefits are worth it.

The other significant new mechanic has been the introduction of the morale system in the tactical combat. This a similar system to the first Xenonauts but has a few improvements to make it easier to understand and interact with, and hopefully to make the alien psionic abilities feel less random. There's also now a "Focus Mind" button that allows a soldier to spend TU in order to boost their morale, which gives the player a way to defend themselves against potential morale events or psionic attacks if they want.

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The problem here is that our current tactical UI design has been straining under the weight of all the new mechanics and UI elements we've added since we implemented it 2-3 years ago, and having to add Armour / Morale bars and this new Focus Mind button has been the final straw. We've therefore been working on the final tactical combat UI design that brings the visuals up to final quality and properly integrates all the new stuff. This is a massive job because it's one of the most important and complex UI elements in the game, but I think we've found a layout that works well - it displays more information than the current UI does and uses less space to do it!

This post is getting really long now, so I'll just mention a few more things in passing - the Cleaner missions at the start of the game are now a pre-set sequence of four missions with some unique mission objectives to mix things up a bit (as opposed to randomly generated missions that filled a meter that eventually revealed the Cleaner base) a few more screens have had a UI facelift, a few more 3d civilian models and alien armour models have been created and are waiting to be rigged, and we've created some stone ruins to add a bit of variety to our jungle maps - and I'll just leave all the smaller things out entirely.

So we've been busy, and we're working on a lot of big things. Apologies for the lack of public builds but when the next one eventually arrives, I think you'll all be impressed by the progress!

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I read this a couple days ago and I think I want to mention that I really can't see liking the UFOs gaining stats depending on how many planes you send at them. As long as I can mod this out I will be fine with it but I can't think of a single game I've played where something like that hasn't decreased my enjoyment of the game. If I can think of an alternative I will write another reply.

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I like the news for Xenonauts 2, more to test them soon. Esp. the Armor-Upgrade and new Oportunitys we get.

Some Parts I knowed won´t work (like the 3 Planes in a Squadron to build up), others I miss from prevoius Beta-Testings (like special Missions on the Geoscape, Outposts and such).

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I also just wanted to mention that I am fine with however long this game takes to make. I am perfectly happy to wait another three years. Or longer. I should have around another 40 years of life or so so sometime between now and 2062 is good with me.

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On 2/6/2022 at 5:20 AM, odizzido said:

I read this a couple days ago and I think I want to mention that I really can't see liking the UFOs gaining stats depending on how many planes you send at them. As long as I can mod this out I will be fine with it but I can't think of a single game I've played where something like that hasn't decreased my enjoyment of the game. If I can think of an alternative I will write another reply.

This system is called: "auto - leveling". It resets the strategic advantage achieved by the player, which makes the achievement of strategically important goals (for example, achieving numerical superiority) less valuable for the player.

Auto-leveling deprives the game of strategy, and therefore auto-leveling is of little relevance in strategic games.

Aliens initially have a qualitative (technological) advantage. Humanity initially has a quantitative advantage. This should be taken into account when adjusting the balance.

Therefore: The game should not penalize a player for having a numerical advantage. The game should penalize the player for being stupid enough to go head-to-head with the aliens as an almost equal opponent.

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If one interceptor of the player, from the first months of the game is able to cope with one UFO.

If a squad of 10 soldiers, from the first months of the game, is able to defeat 10-20 alien soldiers without much loss, then an alien invasion cannot look serious.

In the first months of the game, in order to defeat aliens, you need at least a numerical superiority over the enemy in all types of battles. Now the opposite is true - humanity is superior to aliens in all types of combat.

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Komandos your Post are reading like you were in the 19th century (an other Example Roman Empire etc.), where 50.000 or more Soldiers fight in Rows head to head.

That Time is gone, now you are fighting in a small Group incl. small Fight-Support-Vehicles with a global Strategy and Tactic like UFO-ET-Row, UFO-After-Row and Xenonauts-Row is doing at the End with Maximum 16 Places or 20 Experts incl. small Fight-Support-Vehicles in the final Fight.

And if Xenonauts 2 get more ballanced (you have to know we are still in Beta and Buildup), then you got more to do then you think. Like in new XCOM where you have Maximum 8 Soldiers incl. small Fight-Support-Vehicles or UFO ET Gold with and without one of the 2 big Modifications / Platinum (in Buildup from Gold-Version). An other Example is UFO 2 ET where you think it´s easy going, but after the Newcomerbonus get to an End (which belongs what Difficulty you have set) and you are not prepared then you get overrun.

In all Games you have an Soldier-Limit, which either belongs on the Payment you have monthly to pay, on Metall- etc.-Ressources you have availible or it´s hard Limited (not more then 20 f. e.). That makes such Games much interessting, because you build up an Liason to your Soldiers, esp. if it´s your own Soldier. So you have to handle them with Respect, not like an 08/15 Game where you have unnamed Millions of them.

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54 minutes ago, Alienkiller said:

In all Games you have an Soldier-Limit, which either belongs on the Payment you have monthly to pay, on Metall- etc.-Ressources you have availible or it´s hard Limited (not more then 20 f. e.). That makes such Games much interessting, because you build up an Liason to your Soldiers, esp. if it´s your own Soldier. So you have to handle them with Respect, not like an 08/15 Game where you have unnamed Millions of them.

You will never be able to create a sense of the seriousness of the threat in the player if the effort of 8 people out of 8 billion living on the planet is enough to win.

If the plot was about small "space criminals" (that do not pose a great threat to humanity) for the detention (liquidation) of which a detachment of 8 policemen was created, then I would agree with your point of view.

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1 hour ago, Komandos said:

You will never be able to create a sense of the seriousness of the threat in the player if the effort of 8 people out of 8 billion living on the planet is enough to win.

If the plot was about small "space criminals" (that do not pose a great threat to humanity) for the detention (liquidation) of which a detachment of 8 policemen was created, then I would agree with your point of view.

The stress system is going to increase solier counts significantly. You will be rotating soliers around all the time to do more missions. I dont think there will be an issue with 8 soldier juggernauting the game anymore. Which is great as that really made the game too easy imo. 

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1 hour ago, Kamehamehayes said:

The stress system is going to increase solier counts significantly. You will be rotating soliers around all the time to do more missions. I dont think there will be an issue with 8 soldier juggernauting the game anymore. Which is great as that really made the game too easy imo. 

The fact that after the "shots" the soldiers will "reload" for some time at the base is a good idea.

Xenonauts are weapons in the hands of mankind. In order for the "production" of quality soldiers to be sufficient, their presence in battle must be redundant.

In essence, Chris is trying to get a large number of experienced soldiers, leaving a small number of them in combat.

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14 minutes ago, Komandos said:

The fact that after the "shots" the soldiers will "reload" for some time at the base is a good idea.

Xenonauts are weapons in the hands of mankind. In order for the "production" of quality soldiers to be sufficient, their presence in battle must be redundant.

In essence, Chris is trying to get a large number of experienced soldiers, leaving a small number of them in combat.

Im alright with that. I prefer having a lot of reserve soldiers to do multiple battles with more than more soldiers per battle. 

Essentially i want more battles more than longer ones. 

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2 hours ago, Alienkiller said:

OK back to Topic here. The Announcement is great and we will see what the new big Version contains and Limiters for Soldiers it will have. And I bet on the Limiter you will ever have: Money!

 

 

During the war, money ceases to play the role of a regulator of the economy. A country under martial law is switching to a coupon system and rations. In countries where there is a war - inflation.

In the army, the number of soldiers in military units is regulated by the "Regular structure of the regiment".

350px-CadianRegimentsArt.jpg.74d931c8563fff10b78d7f26c8086d43.jpguB1.png.34435701d172c781013b7c752b1caac2.png

According to military logic, the player should be awarded a new rank for the successful completion of combat missions, as a result of which the player receives the right to command an additional number of troops.

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9 hours ago, Kamehamehayes said:

Im alright with that. I prefer having a lot of reserve soldiers to do multiple battles with more than more soldiers per battle. 

Essentially i want more battles more than longer ones. 

It's very good that the game allows you to choose the battle tactics and the style of play that interest you and do not limit you to choosing only the option that the developers themselves prefer.

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I hate to discuss about an Threat, which is finished already.

1. You will have more then enough battles left. The Devs said it already and have an Hard Limiter that you have to choose wisely what Missions you wanna do and what not. Either you make only UFO- etc. Missions and loose your Founders about Terror Missions etc. or you priorise them in Important [Anti-Alien-Terror etc.], Secondary [Alien-Base-Missions, big UFOs later on and such] as well as Tertiarys [all the Remaining like small UFOs] and get a chance to choose an Win-Option. Otherwise you will loose.

2. You have several Limiters to reduce your Troops and use them with rhyme or reason. That belongs the respectively the Ground-Troops. In old X-COM it was the same, you have limited Money and have to choose what you wanna do. In old X-COM you never had more then 3 Bases (1 fully and 2 Medium ones) if you had luck. There you had to whatch the first Time fully for your Soldiers and hope that 40% of the Troopers could come very good trained to the Endfight.

The Founding changed in the Successors a little to have more Buildup-Options, Production-Options etc. The cool thing is that the Money don´t get enough to get big Soldier-Troops. You need the Ressources for much more important things [f. e. Refit from Transport, Fighters, Base-Buildings, Weapons & Armor for existing Soldiers].

3. An other often named Game-Row to the old X-COM-Row in that Discussions is the JA-Row. In the JA-Row you have several Limiters too to finish the Main-Objects and linked Secondary Objects as fast as Possible. The Limiters here (and I have played all JA Games on the Market) are Money, maximum timed Contracts and the Refreshments from them, Ressources and the Opposition, which get harder to beat if you let you to much time.

All 3 Points you have in all this Games, dosen´t matter if it´s JA-Row, older Games with Chars [like Ultima-Row, Strike Commander or whatever] as well as newer Games [like a Manager Game].

Short said: Either you choose correctly an win or you choose wrong an loose. An easy check in all Games in the Past, Present and Future.

And now back to the Topic. Let´s look what the Devs have for us in the next big (bugfixed, refited and refreshed) Beta-Version. Hope to see cool Tested stuff comming back (like Outposts and similar).

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I do not know English well, and perhaps I misunderstood the main idea, but:

In X-COM: 1-2-3, money limited all resources (including soldiers) only at the beginning of the game. Having established production, the player earned more money than he could spend.

The number of soldiers was limited by the amount of memory that the game supported. (1994 game). When the number of soldiers reached 350, the game reported: "The allowed limit of the number has been reached." In subsequent modifications (openXcom) - this restriction was completely removed.

 

In JA2, a player, even with a lot of money, could not hire more than 18 warriors (all 18 could participate in one battle).

In subsequent modifications: JA2 v.1.13 - this number has been increased to 32 soldiers. In total, 56 characters were available in the game.

 

In Xenonauts 1 (late game) I had about 4*16*9=576 soldiers in 9 bases. I hired so many - because I had money and it was nice to feel like an army, not a police station.

 

I don't think that in Xenonauts 2 money will become a serious limit on the number of soldiers, because in all these games, money could not prevent the player from reaching the software limit on the number of soldiers.

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In the last 30 Years many things have changed in that to the Good. That with the Maximum 30 or 40 Soldiers you can have is a good Middleway incl. other Limits like Money, high Costs for Payments and upkeep etc.

And with the Morale, Stress or whatever system (in JA Sleep; in new XCOM, Phoenix Point and Xenonauts 2 Stress) it makes more sense. In that Case you have use your Brain and make the annocunced wisely Chooses in Main-, Secondary- and Tertairy-Missions.

Such things makes the Games much interresting. With new Features, Polishsment, Bugfixes, fixed Settings etc. in the upcomming Versions the Game get an very good Competitor to similar Games [like upcomming JA 3, upcomming UFO 1 ET Platinum, upcomming Refreshment for UFO 2 ET without DLC etc.].

I like Xenonauts 2 a lot and I know that the Devs will choose the correct Decission what our Discussion of that belongs, esp. with the integrated Features and upcomming to integrate Features.

But the Topic was the new Implementations, Fixes, Changes and steady implementation in the Development. What the Game have as steady Development and Fixes is great already. Some Changes go in the false Direction, because good things are atm not there anymore. Some for Refit / Rework (f. e. the Personal-Use internaly in the Bases [like in XCOM 2] / Outposts and similar) others forever.

We will see what the Devs gives us to test in the new Version, the new Combat-Thing for Ground-Fights looks good. And the best surprisse is the Annoucnement for more Air-Combat-Fight-Refits.

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I don't mind that the developers do what they see fit. I only ask you not to introduce into the program code those restrictions (Xenonauts 1) that prevent players from modifying the game in such a way as to add the canonical platoon size (X-COM: 1-2-3) to the battle.

In order not to be surprised later that the players treat Xenonauts not as a full-fledged successor to X-COM: 1-2-3 and prefer to play openXcom with 600x300 graphics.

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