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Merry Christmas, everybody, and a happy New Year! 2011 has come to a close, and 2012 is just beginning. We’re currently winding down for the festive break, but we’ll be back in less than a week!

It’s been a long year, and I thought the best way to open this article would be to show everyone just how far we’ve come! You can download a build of the game from the 6th of January this year here – it’s only about 25 mb. This is the earliest build of the game that’s ever been released, as even Build V1 (the very first pre-order build released) came out a month later on February 6th. Have a play for a few minutes, and hopefully it’ll illustrate the progress we’ve made. Yes, that’s right – there’s no air combat or ground combat in the game. Hell, the Aircraft Equip screen hadn’t even been coded then!

So even if progress can seem glacial at times, Xenonauts has actually been rattling along at a rapid rate of knots and we will continue to do so. It is worth remembering the rest of the team here at Goldhawk at this point – while I’m the most visible part of the company, there are numerous team members who have been working just as tirelessly on this game, often for minimal pay. The game wouldn’t have come this far if it wasn’t for them, so I want to thank them for their efforts. Thanks, guys.

We are hoping to release the game in 2012. The release date of the game has been continually slipping since the project was announced, but given the progress made in 2011 then I think a 2012 release is perfectly realistic. There’s a few things we are working on right now that should kick in in January that will substantially improve the game, which are:

1) Animation / Rendering: Thanks to Dan, our resident animator, we have animated up all of the Xenonaut soldiers with all of the in-game weapons, and about half the alien races too. We’ll probably have all the animations done in the next two months. However, the problem with all this is the sheer number of frames of animation that need to be rendered (over a million). We were looking at render farms who could do this for us, but they’re quite pricey – I actually think the easiest and most cost effective solution would be to buy 2-3 refurbished ex-corporate servers and rig them together to form a render farm that will blow through the renders in a couple of months. We can do this for less than $500 and I plan to start as soon as the New Year comes. Animation shouldn’t be an issue for us in 2012, unlike in 2011.

2) Alien AI: The last untamed frontier in programming terms is the alien AI – everything else is on someone’s “to-code” list. Xenonauts calls for an AI model where the aliens make intelligent use of the battlefield, fulfil mission objectives and use different tactics depending on what alien race is taking part in the battle. We started looking for an AI coder about a week ago and we have some promising leads which we’re following up. Coupled with the render farm mentioned above, we’re hoping to see a dramatic increase in the number of alien races in the current build of the game in the next couple of months. It should also allow us to put the long-awaited friendly NPC soldiers in the game too (also already animated).

3) Terrain Tiles: The biggest barrier to finishing Xenonauts remains the terrain tiles, which are the unfortunate combination of being technically demanding, visually challenging and hideously expensive. Nevertheless, we are pushing forwards. One of the major issues we’ve experienced so far is that the ground tiles in the game don’t look very nice – they’re single repeating tiles, so they can’t have much detail on them. We’ve just hired an artist to try doing the tiles in larger numbers, like 10×10 blocks, which should vastly increase the quality of the in-game terrain and let us finish it faster. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes, but we’re working actively to get more tilesets into the game. We’ve been staring at the Industrial one too long!

These are the three main roadblocks to progress on the game, we’re doing our best to bulldoze through them. Over the past month or so, we’ve been spending a lot of time on bugfixes and the like, culminating in the release of Build V8.5, which has proved pretty stable. It’s still got bugs in it, of course, but we’ll be fixing the critical ones and it’s more playable than anything before it. However, our focus is now moving onto adding new features again.

We’re currently working on the (eternally-terrifying) night combat, and we’ll be looking at adding some newer weapons into the game for the next build. The gas grenades (smokes, nerve gas) and C4 explosive charges are pencilled in on the list, and we’ll also be looking at the combat shield and possibly a jet-pack equipped suit of armour. So, yes – you should have some new toys to play with in V9.

So as we head into 2012, I’m pretty confident that things are on track for us to both hit beta and release the game this year. Let’s hope I’m right, eh?

Edited by Chris
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Awesome, looking forward to next year. Combat shields! Huge bombs! New aliens! Nerve gas! Night missions!

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Good to hear you have solid goals set, and I'm looking forward to another stellar year of Xenonauts, and the final release of the game!

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Sound like a good plan! I am eager to see the new alien AI and the terrain is something I've been wanting to see evolve as well.

Good luck

and merry Christmas.

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Before I rush out of the door, I'd like to thank the devs for all the hard work they've poured into the project thus far and to wish everyone involved an especially joyful holiday season!

Looking forward to finding out what you have in store for 2012!

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Great! Glad to hear it Chris.

Looking forward (or is it DREADING) night missions. And the shield, and the new terrain, and .... you get the point

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Happy Holidays all. Thanks for all the hard work devs. The game is looking good. I also want to thank all the members of the community that are playtesting. I have playtested other games in the past, but in the case of Xenonauts I am being selfish and waiting for the final release to play it. This is one game I don't want to spoil.

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Back now. Still can't quite face sorting through three pages of bug reports :(

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Back now. Still can't quite face sorting through three pages of bug reports :(

Look on the bright side and be grateful there aren't more than 3. :P

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Season greetings to all.

I don't know why but i always enjoyed air combat alot and thus I have a question. Are you planning to "buff" air combat a bit and make it more interesting or you are only going to do it after ground combat?

Another question. Will there be shadows on the new sprites?

Edited by Aelius

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Aelius - we'll finish the ground combat coding first, then go back to the air combat. And no, there won't be shadows on the new sprites yet. The shadows will be a seperate layer so we'll add them later.

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