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Xenonauts 2 January 2024 Update!

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Hello everyone - this month's update covers both December and January, as I was out of the office over new year. We've all returned refreshed from our Christmas break and we hope you all had a good festive season too!

Milestone 3:
The biggest piece of news is that Milestone 3 is out on our Experimental branches for testing, with the goal of releasing the final version of Milestone 3 onto the default Steam / GOG / Epic branches on February 19th.

There's an extensive changelog for Milestone 3 which you can read here, but this new build ticks off a number of content items on our roadmap: the Cruiser UFO, both alien and human Fusion Weapons, the third interceptor aircraft and third dropship aircraft, plus the ARES (an upgraded hovering version of the MARS).

We're currently hotfixing the game on a daily basis to remove crashes and AI hangs encountered by our community, and we'll be focusing on smoothing out the game balance once the worst of the bugs are dealt with.

Unity 2022 - Load Times & Borderless Fullscreen:
The biggest single task we've completed on over the past couple of months has been upgrading to Unity 2022, which Milestone 3 now runs on. This has been quite disruptive, but worthwhile - the update has enabled us to reduce load times by ~30% across all parts of the game, and we're hoping to further improve that to a ~50% reduction in the coming months.

The game now also properly supports Borderless Fullscreen mode, allowing you to freely Alt-Tab without issues (something a LOT of people in the community had been requesting). Players should encounter fewer issues with multi-monitor setups than before too.

The upgrade should also help speed up development somewhat. I won't bore you with the technical details, but code compiles much faster in 2022 relative to our older version and there's much more powerful debug tools available, so we'll collectively be spending a lot less time twiddling our thumbs while we wait to test our work.

AI Upgrades:
The other major task we've been working on is AI improvements. The AI now has access to more information about the battlefield around it, and it's making much more sensible decisions in combat about where to position its units and how to attack.

However, we're still keeping a close eye on the AI because further tweaks or bugfixes may be required - even minor issues in the AI settings can cause AI units to do bizarre things in certain situations. But the good news is that these issues should now be easy to fix, and it's just a case of testing the game enough to find them all.

Specific AI improvements have been also made to the civilians (who were famously suicidal in older builds) and for melee aliens like Reapers, which had been struggling to attack effectively.

New Assets:
As well as the new content I already mentioned has been added for Milestone 3, we've been adding lots of new maps to the game and have also added a significant number of new 3D models for various soldier weapons that had previously been using placeholders. The research art for the new research projects is also largely complete and should be finished by the 19th.

We're also starting to work on updates that won't appear until Milestone 4. Kickstarter backers will remember pre-Early Access versions of the game contained the Andron alien race, but they were removed due to issues with their models and animations. The updated Androns have now been designed and are in the process of being modelled up so we can reintroduce them in future.

This is part of a wider task to create additional variants of existing aliens. The Wraiths in particular don't have enough 3D model variants to represent their different ranks, so we've designed a more heavily armoured Wraith variant that will appear in the later UFOs, and also designed a proper uniform for the basic "civilian" Wraith you encounter acting as a pilot or engineer inside UFOs (currently they just appear naked).

Overall, it's been a productive couple of months for the team despite the disruption of the Christmas holidays. The Unity 2022 upgrade and the AI upgrades were both large tasks so it's nice to have them done, and I think Milestone 3 is going to be another significant upgrade for the game - once testing has ironed out all the kinks.

Thanks for reading, and please let us know if you encounter any bugs or issues when playing on the Experimental branch!

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  • Chris changed the title to Xenonauts 2 January 2024 Update!

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