Rendez-vous au printemps pour Xenonauts 2

En bref. Si le développement de la suite de Xenonauts prend bien plus de temps que prévu, il semble que les choses prennent meilleure tournure. En effet Hooded Horse a annoncé ajouter le second volet à son catalogue, ce qui devrait apporter un soutien non négligeable au studio Goldhawk Interactive. Et selon la récente dernière annonce des développeurs (voir ci-après), une sortie en version Accès anticipé est sérieusement envisagée vers le mois de février prochain. Mieux vaut tard que jamais.

On verra d’ici là comment les choses évoluent, en attendant l’éditeur diffuse une série de captures d’écrans plus ou moins récentes, certaines images ayant été déjà brièvement montrées. Voyez également celles sur Steam, elles montrent divers autres détails du jeu.

Il semble de plus qu’une nouvelle démo du jeu sera disponible lors d’un prochain événement sur Steam.

Pour plus d’informations sur Xenonauts 2, voyez cette page sur Kickstartercelle-ci sur Steam, ainsi que le site officiel.

 

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Xenonauts 2 and Heart of the Machine join the Hooded Horse family

Hooded Horse’s portfolio grows to 17 as two veteran strategy designers join the family with their latest titles.

DALLAS – 15th September 2022 – Hooded Horse is excited to announce that it has signed two more titles to its rapidly growing portfolio of unique strategy, RPG, and simulation games. Xenonauts 2, the popular X-COM successor from Goldhawk Interactive; and Heart of the Machine, a new strategy/city-builder title from Arcen Games (The Last Federation, AI War 2), are now part of the Hooded Horse family.

This brings our portfolio to 17 titles, with 12 of these (including the two above) being signed in 2022 alone as Hooded Horse’s plan for world domination picks up pace. Here are some details about our new partnerships:

Heart of the Machine is a city-building strategy game in reverse – instead of beginning in empty land ready for moulding, you are instead the world’s first sentient AI, booting up in a fully-developed city that doesn’t know you exist yet. What you do from here is up to you – there are plenty of resources to exploit, alliances to be made, and squishy humans to manipulate towards whatever goal you desire. You are the machine, you have the power, and, honestly, it doesn’t matter if the humans live or die. Benevolent machine god or tyrannical AI, the choice is up to you. Heart of the Machine is due to release in early 2023, and we have a press kit available here.

“I’ve been an indie developer for 13 years now, and in all that time I’ve been approached by a lot of publishers,” says Arcen founder Chris McElligott Park. “In today’s market, Hooded Horse is the first and only publisher I’ve seen that is remotely a fit, and I’ve been deeply impressed by them every step of the way so far.”

“Heart of the Machine is a constellation of ideas that I’ve had rattling around in my brain since at least 2015. The technical framework we’re building, the simulation we’re running, and the other specific design elements are really something I can’t wait to show off.”

 

Xenonauts 2 is the sequel to the 2014’s Xenonauts, a turn-based strategy game inspired by the original X-COM. The second entry was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in 2018, and has been going from strength to strength as it targets a release into Steam Early Access in early 2023. You control a multi-national military organisation tasked with defending Earth from alien invasion, and the sequel brings better graphics, an expanded research tree, as well as new aliens and a more in-depth Geoscape. While there will be plenty of tense, tactical ground engagements with the aliens, you must also manage and monitor the global picture, building up your bases, forces, and scientific understanding of this mysterious enemy. A press kit is available here.

“The whole team here at Goldhawk Interactive is very keen to work with Hooded Horse,” says Xenonauts 2 Project Lead Chris England. “Their enthusiasm and depth of knowledge of strategy games is plain. We believe this partnership will allow us to concentrate on finishing the game, while ensuring our marketing and community management is handled by people who genuinely understand what we’re making.”

You can find Hooded Horse’s entire portfolio here, and our press kits can be found here.

About Hooded Horse™

Hooded Horse Inc. is a publisher of strategy, simulation, and role-playing games based in Dallas, Texas with people and partners across the world. Starting in 2020 with a single title, Hooded Horse’s portfolio has grown to 17 games and counting. Our goal is to empower and support developers in doing what they love. From the distant past of Old World, to the depths of space in Falling Frontier, Hooded Horse is the new name in deep, strategic experiences.

You can find out more about us on our website, as well as our social channels; Discord, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

About Goldhawk Interactive

Goldhawk Interactive is a UK-based developer founded in 2011 that’s focused exclusively on the Xenonauts series of strategy games that cover an alien invasion. The first Xenonauts was released in 2014, and Xenonauts 2 was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in 2018. You can follow them via their official website and Discord.

About Arcen Games LLC

Arcen is based in North Carolina in the United States, and has been making games since 2009 with highlights including The Last Federation and the AI War series. AI War 2 was released in 2019, and is still being supported by DLC releases. Most of Arcen’s games fit within a shared universe known as the ‘Arcenverse’, which leans towards the softer end of ‘hard’ science fiction. You can find out more about the company on their website, as well as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Discord.

Xenonauts-2 August 2022 Update

Apologies for the delays to this update. Some big news this month – we’re planning to launch the game into Early Access in February next year, and I’ve been underwater with preparations for that. We’re also going to be putting out another tactical mission demo as part of a Steam event later this month, which is also eating into my time.

I’ll be writing a much longer post later this month explaining our plans for Early Access in detail, so I’ll just focus this post on what work we did last month.

Abduction Missions:
The biggest feature we’ve been working on are Abduction Missions, which are a new type of tactical mission intended to provide a bit more variation to the ground combat. In these missions the aliens have captured a number of civilians and imprisoned them within teleporter pods, and you have a certain number of turns to free as many civilians as possible – once the timer runs out, all surviving aliens and any pods that have not been opened teleport away.

You win the mission by rescuing at least 50% of the civilians, so these missions are no harder than a “normal” mission where you kill all the aliens. However, you receive a small amount of money resources for each opened pod and killed alien (as they do not teleport away) so the player can potentially obtain more rewards on these missions by playing more aggressively than normal. Personally I think this makes them an interesting change of pace from some of the other mission types.

These were way more effort than I was expecting them to be, but they’re basically done now (just ironing out a few bugs) and so should be included in V24.

Grenades:
We’ve now done the final part of the grenade implementation – setting them to use arcs, so they can be thrown over walls or intervening cover. This is surprisingly tricky from a design perspective (arcs and abstract 3d tile grids don’t go together well) and even more of a pain to implement, but we know it’s an important feature to a lot of players.

We’re just fixing up a few bugs and some issues with the visualisation, but this feature is also pretty much done and should be in V24.

Achievements & Cloud Saves:
Achivements are now complete, including artwork, and set up on Steam and GOG. You’ll be able to earn them (well, most of them) starting in V24.

I’ll also shortly be turning on Steam cloud saves, but because our save games were previously absolutely enormous (up to 20mb for some tactical saves) we’ve spent some time optimising the files so they are much smaller. They should now only be about 20% of their previous size, so only a few mb each, and won’t totally destroy anyone stiill on a metered connection.

Terrain Tiles & Maps:
Last month I spent a bunch time fixing all the problems with the UFOs in the game, using a new tool to find and fix all the line of sight “holes” which could cause the interior space to be revealed by soldiers who were still outside. I also fixed the non-walkable tiles that occasionally appeared inside the UFOs, and finished setting up the styling on the Harvester and Battleship UFO interior spaces.

I’ve also added a LOT of new terrain tiles to the game. These will be most noticeable in the Xenonaut Base biome, which is now mostly complete and looks much more polished than it did in our last public release (there’s just a few more rooms left to complete). This is also reflected in the Cleaner Base plot mission, which has been completely restyled and now looks much better than before.

UI Updates:
We’re continuing to work towards having the strategy UI refresh complete for our Early Access launch in February. I’ve implemented the new visual style for the Main Base and Stores screens, and we’re nearly done with designing the Soldiers screen. Once that is complete we only have the Research, Engineering, Aircraft and Soldier Equip screens to implement.

Additionally, we’re working on an updated visual style for the Geoscape map itself. This won’t be dramatically different but we want a map that looks a bit more distinct from the one in the first Xenonauts, and is just a bit neater and less noisy. We’re still at an early stage of this but I’m hoping it’ll come out well!

Campaign / Tech Tree:
In preparation for V24 I’m doing another balancing pass on the campaign. One small thing we implemented here was the ability to randomise the spawn times of missions and UFO waves, which has helped make things less predictable, and in general I’ve just been working through the game and ensuring everything unlocks correctly so you can actually make it to the final mission.

I’m looking to get the tech tree locked down for the Early Access release shortly, as there is still quite a bit of art and writing that needs to be added. However this month I did write all the research entries for the entire alien / Cleaner plot chain from the start of the game right up to Operation Endgame (this was about 15 entries in all). This means the hardest part of the writing is now done, as “normal” research entries are less narratively connected and much faster to write.

 

I think that’s everything. We are working on V24 still but I’m not going to give a firm date for when it’ll be released as I’m conscious I’ve got the demo to sort out first. But hopefully in the next couple of weeks!

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