Xenonauts 2 – July Update

Welcome to July’s update!  No public Closed Beta releases this month, as the team have been working away on some systemic stuff – we hope to resume those next month.

Tactical Enhancements

We’ve spent a fair bit of coder time improving the tactical AI. It now has a much more comprehensive understanding of both terrain and weaponry – it’ll be ready for some combat balancing next month.

We’re also planning to look into some “advanced” behaviours as part of this, whether it be squad behaviours that allow alien units to move and fight as teams, or unit-specific special abilities.  Making the aliens feel more intelligent, with greater differentiation between the different species, should give the game more character.

Performance and Bug Fixes

Work has also taken place on various other aspects of gameplay.  Performance on the Geoscape has been improved significantly, and we’ve implemented an initial version of the difficulty settings.  In addition to that, we’ve finished the implementation of soldier medals.

Thanks to a community bug report, we realised that Landed UFO’s weren’t actually functional, despite support for them being there!  We spent a bit of time looking into that and the coders fixed some related bugs, and now UFOs are landing like they should.

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Visible Improvements

A significant number of new art assets have been added to the game as well. The last of the remaining Xenonaut armours has been modeled and sent off for rigging, so we expect all the final Xenonaut 3D models to be in the game by the end of August – you can see a couple of the designs in the images in this post. 

There’s also been a new alien model added to the game: the Cyberdrone. This was previously a big white sphere but now actually has a unique design. There’s now at least one 3D model for all of the aliens in the game, and we’re going to turn our attention to differentiating the variants (so you can better tell an elite alien from a standard alien of the same species, etc).

There’s also new 2D art!  We redesigned the Gauss weapons and have new-and-improved 2D art for that entire family of weapons.  We’ve also added the top-down art for the two advanced dropships (as seen when arranging your troops inside them on the Aircraft screen), and as the 3D tiles are already complete we just need to paint the background art on the Soldier Equip screen for those and then they are done. This work should be completed next month.

Finally, we’ve brought back a freelance artist who was working with us on improving the look of the ground combat tiles. The quality of the ground combat environments is still quite variable, from the attractive dockyard maps we used in the Steam Demo through to biomes like Arid or the American Town which are not quite there yet. We’ll be working hard on retexturing some of the less attractive assets to bring them up to final quality, and we’ll also be adding the final destruction states to them too. It might take a few months for this to bear fruit but you’ll see quite a big improvement in the way the game looks when it does!

One more thing on the art front – the new UI art style also continues to develop. We hope to have the new main menu screen and it’s various sub-panels in the game next month (the “start new campaign” screen, load game screen, etc). Maybe even the new topbar too if things go well.

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Technical Work

In addition to gameplay work, we’ve also been taking a look at some technical issues. We’re continuing to work on translation support, but that hit a speedbump this month because we had previously been linking items / projects together via their name (e.g. when specifying which item unlocks a Research project). Unfortunately, this system falls apart once the name becomes a value that changes based on language, so we had to rewrite quite a lot of code relating to that too.  Despite that setback, we’re hoping to get translation support completed soon.

So, a very busy month with a lot of spinning plates.  However, as you can see, progress on all these fronts continues to be positive – we hope to return to more game balancing work next month.
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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