R4: "Area 51"

by Kyzrati on 20111021 , under

After much hardware-induced delay, a new release is ready for the ASCII-loving, alien-hating commanders out there to test their skill (and/or luck) on.

In addition to the many new features mentioned in the previous post, R4 adds a new scenario and scoring system to tide you over until the first alpha release, which probably won't be available until the end of the year! Most of the core mechanics are complete (the rest will come in alpha), and huge changes will be taking place over the next couple months as I build a libTCOD framework from scratch to handle the kinds of things I want X@COM to be able to do. I'll occasionally post progress updates when there's something to show.

As for the new scenario: Fight alongside soldiers defending an Area 51 base against an alien assault, and be prepared for some surprises. To play, run Area51.bat. The environment is non-random, but enemies are mostly randomized. Once the remake is complete, later versions could optionally include similar handcrafted scenarios, though of much better quality and properly balanced.

There are a lot of enemies, so definitely try out this new feature: You can now press/hold the 'e' key to highlight known threats. So at the beginning of a turn when you've suddenly been engulfed in total chaos (very likely to happen in Area 51, believe me), highlight the threats to quickly get an idea of what you're up against. (Threats are highlighted no matter what level they're on.) The visual effect is currently handled with the projectile particle engine, so flashing indicators may not appear in their entirety for units at the edge of your FOV (or at all for known units outside FOV); there will eventually be a separate 2D particle engine for map/interface effects that can properly handle highlighting and all kinds of other nifty indicators.

As usual, see the changelog for a comprehensive list of what you get with R4.

You can still play the original completely randomized ARRP demo; in fact, it's still the default. Remember that the original scenario will be a fairly different experience now that reaction fire is implemented.

As requested, there is now a scoring system (applies to all modes). The game will eventually replace this temporary implementation with a detailed and extensive scoring/records system, as well as medals for soldiers and achievements you can earn as commander. Here's the result of my test run on Area 51:
There are more unlisted ways to score points, but I didn't earn those. If you have a particularly good run (or even win!), when you see the mission end screen press your PrtScn button and a screenshot will be saved in your game directory. Maybe you could show it off in the X@COM Bay 12 thread (link on right).

That's it. No more media for you. Not doing any in-game screenshots or video for this release, at least not just yet, since I don't want to spoil the fun.

Now go! Defend Area 51!
6 comments more...


  • Anonymous

    Killed one of my own guys, then everyone else died to a Blaster Launcher. Yep, this is how it should be. Excellent. Sorry, not a clue where to suggest this, but, is there, will there be, or have you considered saving every single event in a mission to a combat log text file? Would be great to be able to read-back everything that I'd done on a mission. Maybe options for hiding/showing hidden alien movements in the log, too?

    Love it!

  • Kyzrati

    Well, lucky you! There's only a 3% chance or so of any given alien showing up with a Blaster Launcher. But eventually more than 30 aliens show up in Area 51, so you're bound to see one if you play long enough--probably a good idea to split up into a few groups. In ARRP mode you're a little less likely to be hit by a blaster because the AI is a bit more lenient; the settings are far more aggressive in Area 51.

    A comprehensive event/message log is planned for a future version, yes. You'll be able to see it both in and out of game. I was also considering a feature to record/playback battles.

    Later on I'll set up a place for suggestions. For now anyone with something to suggest can post to the Bay 12 thread where there's some discussion.

  • Anonymous

    3% chance? He was the first alien I met when we piled off the Skyranger AND he was a Muton. First game, first turn. :)

    It was the Bay12 thread that brought me hear by the way.

  • Kyzrati

    I didn't mean it that way--it's a great little framework. In fact, I highly recommend it if you're using libtcod and C++.

    I want to write my own framework because I'm going to need some features that Umbra can't handle. I've already had to make several modifications as is, but I'm going to change it so much more that I may as well write my own to get rid of the parts I don't like.

    I originally intended the new framework to be an opaque intermediary layer between X@COM and libtcod, so the game references absolutely nothing from the libtcod API, but over the past couple days I'm really debating whether to continue using libtcod at all now that it's going to lose official support.

    It's perfect for small projects, but there's a chance X@COM development could go on for quite some time and become a rather large project...

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