Xenonauts 2 – March Update

Greetings everyone – we’ll start this update by addressing the delay to the Open Beta.

One factor here is that Project Lead Chris is currently working reduced hours due to a personal matter – here’s a note from him:

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.”

So, apologies for that delay – we’re aware that people are very keen to jump in and we appreciate that it’s difficult to keep waiting.  However, given the above and the fact that the game continues to receive regular updates to (and useful feedback from) the Closed Beta, we’re going to have to ask you to continue to be patient on that front.  Thanks!

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at our recent progress…

Air Combat

We’ve placed a significant amount of emphasis this month on 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 amounts 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.

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.
Many thanks for reading and for staying up-to-date with our work – as ever please do join us on Discord, the forums or the Steam community if you have any questions.

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