November Development Update

V20 Experimental build 1 was released about a month ago now, and V20 Experimental 5 came out yesterday. These include a lot of new features (changelogs here), the biggest of which is the addition of our new “immersive” UI to replace the old spreadsheets. It’s still a little buggy in places, but visually the game has taken a huge leap forwards.

It was also the last major feature we had remaining to implement. We are aiming to have the game completed for the end of December at the moment, but we’re unsure if we’ll hit that deadline. Delays to any part of the game (or festive complications) mean that we could miss it. Ultimately it is an internal deadline that we can move if we have to…we just think it’d be nice to have the game done this year!

You can probably see from the changelogs that we’re making fairly rapid progress these days. The artwork is progressing well and is likely to be finished for the end of the year, as the tiles are nearly all done and we’re working on the alien analysis / interrogation images at the moment that are the only remaining part of the Xenopedia.

On the coding front, there’s not really any massive features left to implement. It’s mostly bugfixes, cleaning up systems that aren’t working entirely correctly or balancing what is already there.

We’re working hard on the AI at the moment. Most interesting is tweakable (by anyone) AI variables for each AI race and rank, which allows us to have rather different behaviour for different alien races. We’ve also partially implemented AI grenades, which they should now be using to trash your base in Base Defence missions. Provided we don’t encounter any major bugs in it, that’ll all be in V20 Ex.6.

We’re working on clearing up the bugs in the rest of the game. There’s quite a few of them and some of them (aliens shooting through UFO floors springs to mind) are quite major, but our ground combat coder has been busy writing his end of the AI interface recently so he’s not been able to fix them all yet.

There’s quite a few little features or tweaks to make in the combat still, including testing out a sight system that only reveals what is currently in a unit’s line of sight – so if a unit turns or is killed, vision is immediately lost on those tiles. I suspect this will make the missions feel a bit more claustrophobic and reduce the effectiveness of long-range sniping (both good things) but we’ll see how it works in practice. If we don’t like it, we can just revert to the old model.

We’re also balancing the AI and plugging away at the maps at the moment, leaving only the Terror mission maps (Soviet and Western town types) left to do now. General game balance seems in a good place, but there are still things for us to fix up there too.

At my end, I’m mostly working on the new UI at the moment. There’s a lot of pop-up windows to reskin in our nicer style – although I have done most of them now – and there’s still a number of usability issues with the new UI. A lot are to do with non-16:9 screen resolutions and we’re looking into fixing them.

I’m also working on the 48-page Xenonauts Art Book for the Kickstarter backers. Unsurprisingly it is proving to be a lot of work, but it needs to be done. It’ll make a nice memento for the project for the team, and also we’ll probably make it available for sale to anyone that wants to buy one once they’ve been sent out to the Kickstarter backers.

Overall, progress remains good and I expect us to get another three weeks of solid work in before the team starts to dissipate for the festive season and things become patchier. If the game isn’t finished by the end of the year, we won’t be far away!

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