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The Official Xenocide FAQ
This is a FAQ for the Xenocide project to try to alleviate the repeated questions that are asked.
Last Updated:December 29, 2003

Xenocide Project Homepage
Xenocide Project Forums
email: xenocide@projectxenocide.com 



General Q&A
Technical Q&A
Xenocide Demo Q&A

Current and Future Proposed Features List

GENERAL Q&A



What is Xenocide?

Welcome to Project Xenocide! Within the walls of this project, we are a hard-working international group of individuals endeavoring to recreate the spirit and feel of Atari's (formerly Microprose) turn-based strategy classic: X-COM: UFO Defense in a new game entitled "Xenocide."

Xenocide is taking advantage of today's advanced computer capabilities to present the player with professional quality graphics and sound while keeping the game as closely inspired by X-COM: UFO Defense as we possibly can. Everyone is welcome to try and contribute to the project by posting in the project's forums, within the Lobby/Recruitment Center.

Using platform-independent OpenGL code and the OGRE 3D graphics engine, our goal is to create a game combining two main phases of play: a strategic "planetview" to manage resources and bases on a global scale, and a "battleview" to match player-controlled units against alien soldiers in turn-based combat. Xenocide is an Open Source game.

Depending on the country where it was released, the inspiration was also known as UFO: Enemy Unknown. There have been several sequels to this game, all of which are the sole property of Atari. This project does not use any of the code from these software titles; it is a completely new program inspired by these titles.

Is it a remake?
The short answer to this is no, because we do not own the rights to the original series. This is a completely new program which hopes to recreate the "feel" of the original games. There will be similarities to the original series, but Xenocide will be developed with modern coding techniques and video technology. Specific names for items, aliens, and features will be different as well so that there is no chance of infringing on the intellectual property (IP) of the original copyright holder.

Speaking of the original, can I download it from this site?
NO! All of the original X-Com games are copyrighted works, and it is illegal to distribute copies. This project does not condone software piracy, and will not commit criminal acts for those looking for a free game.

What are the system requirements?
Pentium III 500mhz or AMD Athlon 500mhz
128 MB RAM
Windows 98SE, 2000, ME, XP
DirectX 9.0a
GeForce 2 MX400 32mb with between Detonator 40.00 and 45.23 drivers, or ATI Radeon 8500 and higher models with Catalyst 3.1 drivers

Where can I get it?
You can download the alpha here:
www.projectxenocide.com/download.html
Please keep in mind that this is a concept program, and not a working version of the game. After you download, unzip, and run the alpha, send us feedback!
Feedback form:
www.projectxenocide.com/feedback/ 
Submitting feedback is the ONLY way to be added to the alpha release mailing list!

When will version 1.0 be ready?
The Xenocide team works in our spare time on this project. Most of the project members have full time jobs or are full time students, so our available time can vary. We expect to have a playable game (without most of the bells and whistles) by the end of 2004. As more people join the team, this timeframe becomes easier to reach. Remember that with your help we would meet that deadline even sooner. Once a working version is released, additional features will be developed.

A list of features to be included, as well as possible future features, can be found here. This document is always a work in progress. Please note that only ideas thoroughly discussed in the forums are added to the list, so if you have an idea not already listed, please suggest it in the laboratories. If your idea is already there, you will find a corresponding thread discussing it, typically in the laboratory forums. Please refer to this list of ideas prior to posting, so we can reduce duplicate threads suggesting the same concept. Thanks!

What can I do?
Xenocide is an Open Source project, so everyone is free to contribute ideas and become actively involved in the development process. You can visit the Xenocide forums 
and make a post regarding your qualifications and how you would like to contribute to the project. There are many areas that need work when developing a game of this scope. We need programmers for nearly every aspect of the game, especially people with OGRE experience and AI programmers. We also need artists, 3D modelers, and musicians. If you are willing to learn and work as part of a team, your level of experience does not matter. Creative writing and good documentation people are needed as well.

Are you going to use (models, code, names) from the original?
Due to the original games being the intellectual property of a corporate entity, we cannot use artwork, code or anything else from the original games. Xenocide is going to be a turn based stategy and management game inspired by the Xcom series of games. The models, code, and names used will be the ones we develop. If you decide to join this project, it can be your models, code, and names as well!

Do you need playtesters?
We have an abundance of them already. Everybody wants to be a playtester as they believe it means they get to play the game early. Unfortunately this isn't true. The role of a playtester is a thankless job and requires many hours of playing the same bits of game over and over to find and document defects. There is a lot of tedious work involved, with specific tasks that have to be documented well and in a language the programming team understands to be able to fix the defects. Remember that you can download our source code from Sourceforge and compile it yourself to play. If you are really, really serious about applying as a beta tester (that thankless job mentioned above), we are glad to have you here. As more code is developed for the game the demand for this role will increase.

Have you heard about project/gameXYZ, which is similar to Xenocide?
Many of us searched high and low for X-Com related programs prior to joining the Xenocide project. We certainly know about UFO:Aftermath, the Last hope project, Project EDF and most everything that has something to do with X-Com at this point.

How do I know what has been done or is being worked on?
We have project tracking on Sourceforge for programming sound and art. The url is http://www.sourceforge.com/projects/xenocide  then click on the tasks button. A list of assets being developed or already completed for the game is also being compiled. Once you join the project you can be assigned items that interest you. If you've already developed items you wish to share, you can post links or screen shots on the relevant forums listed at the bottom of this FAQ.

I noticed defect X from the original. Is this going to be fixed?
No code from the original software series is going to be used. While it is our belief that X-Com is the best game out there, and we are going to stick to many of the features everybody loves about it, we will not include the defects from the original! It is possible that we will introduce our own defects during development, but we will try to avoid this of course. Current issues that we are aware of in Xenocide are listed later in this FAQ.

I think it would be really cool to do X or improve on Y from the original. Can you do that?
Currently our focus is to finish a decent product without too many bells and whistles. We will improve various aspects of gameplay, especially graphics and the gameplay interface. A current list of proposed features for each release will become available in the near future. You can visit this forum if you wish to make suggestions for additional game features. There are additional links listed at the end of this FAQ if you wish to explore the site.

I want to make models/music/code for the project. What programs/formats do you recommend using?
The formats we are going to use will be:
PNG (Portable Network Graphics) - for Images and Textures
OGG (Ogg Vorbis) - for Sounds, an Open Source MP3 Format
XDIV - for Video
MS3D - Milkshape 3D format, for model scenes
3DS - for Model Importing/Exporting
There is an asset list for the art department, cataloging the various models and textures being used, as well as the technical requirements for them here. There is a scale reference model here. The fonts used in the game and concept art are gotthard and OCRextended. OCRe is a system font present in Windows and gotthard is available as a part of the Xenocide download. It is also found here.

What program do I have to use?
While we have no control over what software you use in your home, we recommend you use Open Source or Freeware software. In the case where you want to use a commercial package, be sure to obey all software licensing laws and regulations. If you're not willing to buy the software, use Open Source or Freeware instead.

Our recommendations are:
3D Models - Blender (www.blender.org), Milkshape 3D (www.swissquake.ch/chumbalum-soft/)
Image Editing - GNU Gimp (www.gimp.org)
Sound Encoding - Ogg Vorbis sound enconding (www.vorbis.com)
Compiler - GNU GCC compiler (gcc.gnu.org)
IDE - Borland Kylix Open Source Edition for Linux (www.borland.com) There's also the Open Source Windows IDE called Dev-C++, it says it's shipped with Mingw/GCC 3.2 compilers.

I'd like to help this project out financially. How can I do this?
Donations help us maintain the web servers so we can develop the game and you can download it. If you would like to donate any amount, follow this link:
http://www.xcomufo.com/donate.html

TECHNICAL Q&A


I have a heck of a video Card (at the time of writing this, that could mean GeForce 4 TI or NVidia GeForce FX) and still I'm getting a refresh rate of only 60 or 75 Hz.

Some have said that it is the notorious OpenGL Defect. Well it is not a defect, really. Microsoft had thought that "why do we need to have higher frame rates than what the monitor can handle?" This is called Vertical Synchronization (VSync for short). The video card will wait until the monitor needs refreshing. That is why you don't have better frame rates even though your video card is wasting time waiting for VSync. Turning off VSync is only useful and recommended if the actual bottleneck for the frame rate is the CPU and not the GPU. If you are already getting 60Hz, don't worry about it because turning off the VSync introduces some other visual artifacts (defects) caused by the video card feeding to the frame buffer memory and the monitor feeding from it so instead of a complete frame, a mix of the new frame and the last one is sent to the monitor. It has been reported that some people playing fast paced FPS do have visual problems, headaches, etc, because of the VSync default introduced by WinXP. Even though it can be turned off, you shouldn't play FPS games with that low VSync speeds. Try to set your monitor VSync as high as it can handle.

DISCLAIMER: We are not responsible if you set the VSync frequency too high and you damage or destroy your monitor. Read the monitor's manual. It will tell you what the maximum safe VSyn frequency for your monitor is.

Why do you use OpenGL instead of DirectX?
DirectX is a Windows-only platform graphic solution. Our aim is to support as many platforms as possible. So OpenGL was our choice. Of course that means that there have to be people interested in porting the game to their specific platform. There are currently people interested in supporting Xenocide in Windows, Linux and Mac. Anyone wanting the game on another OS is welcome to port it.

Why is it that if you zoom in all the way the textures become hazy and lose sharpness?
The decal texture that it is used does not have enough resolution to handle that much zoom. Not to mention that the 1.5mb texture in PNG format becomes a 6mb texture when decompressed. Then if you add mip-mapping it becomes a 12 Mb texture in your video card. There's not too much we can do on this issue.

What is mip-mapping?
Mip-mapping is a level-of-detail technique for textures. If the detail needed for a pixel in the screen spawned a 32-pixels lookup on the video card texture memory, then there is no need to use that much detail and make your video card slow down on useless calculations, working with detail you wouldn't notice anyway. However, as is always the case with computer stuff, you have to make trade-offs. In this case you trade video card memory for speed (We choose speed).

The world looks like a ball (sphere), is that ok?
No, it's not ok, but we already have a very big and complex system to finish. The world as a sphere is a simplification we did to make it a little easier to implement. Those little details will be addressed in the future, probably after Version 1.0 is out.

If I change the resolution in the engine.conf, the alpha does not work properly, it seems like it is fixed to work in 800x600.
Yes, that's right, it has been fixed because it's far easier to program the interface with a fixed resolution. This is because we don't have a working interface yet. The pre-alpha User Interface is just a proof of concept; after we have a final interface we will modify it to handle multi-resolution issues.


XENOCIDE DEMO Q&A

I only see a blank screen with a menu to the right, but I can hear music. Where is the globe?

This problem has been traced to incompatibility with nvidia's two latest sets of drivers for nvidia cards. If you are running Windows 2000 or XP, the alpha may not work if you have Detonator or Forceware drivers later than v45.23, meaning that v45.33 and v52.16 may be causing the globe to not appear. This is a bug in the alpha code that we will not be fixing. If this is the problem, and you really want to run the alpha anyway, you can get the v45.23 drivers from the list below and install them over the newer ones. It is not as difficult as it may sound and in practice, there has not been any trouble caused by doing this (the exception would be if you have a very driver-customized environment, in which case we'll assume you'll know what you're doing anyway) If you choose to install the old drivers, You will need to restart you computer, then run the alpha. When you are finished with the alpha, reinstall the newer drivers, restart your computer, and you should be back where you were before.

v45.23 for Win2000/XP

For Win9x/ME users, this bug should not present itself because the latest drivers available for these OS's is v45.23.


The alpha won't run at all!

Check the contents of your "Engine report.txt" file. If it contains the following...

-- Log Begin State info: XComInit::Couldn't find needed OpenGL Extension (GL_NV_vertex_program) State info: XComInit::Couldn't find needed OpenGL Extension (GL_NV_register_combiners) Error found: XComInit::Couldn't find needed OpenGL Extensions, aborting loading.

...you should check a few things. First, make sure you are meeting the minimum system requirements. Second, make sure you have a graphics card that will work with the alpha. Currently the alpha only supports Nvidia's geforce-based graphics cards, starting with the GeForce 2 MX400 32mb. Any GeForce card higher than this should work. This means that 3dfx-based (Voodoo) and Radeon-based (ATI Rage) graphics cards will not successfully run the alpha. Support for Radeon chipsets is in the works but will probably not be available until the next alpha release. Support for 3dfx chipsets is impossible due to a lack of sufficient OpenGL extensions available in the chipsets. At the moment, this is the most common problem with running the alpha.

If your system meets the minimum system requirements but the alpha still does not run, ensure that you have downloaded and installed newer (but not necessarily the latest) drivers for your Nvidia card. You can find them on www.Nvidia.com in the Support, Drivers section.

A line in the Engine Report.txt says...

"CG ERROR : The profile is not supported."

...Your card does not support what is needed to run the program. Currently only Nvidia GeForce2 or later can run it. If you have an Nvidia GeForce2 or later and you still get this message, try to update the drivers using Nvidia versions instead of Microsoft's Nvidia default drivers that may have come with your computer or been installed when you installed the card.

If you have been altering the vertex shader programs (that have been deliberatly stored in text form under the /shaders folder) it is possible that you had introduced syntax defects in it and the Cg Compiler complains about it. Re-extract the original files from the Xenocide archive.

This is an actual quote: "After playing X-Com 1 CE, I tried Xenocide, and was pissed it didn't work. Then after pondering a few hours.. I remembered to turn direct draw back on..."


I see the menu, but the earth is just a gray ball with a shadow.

You need to turn off antialiasing. If you are using a GeForce2 32mb video card, you may encounter this problem. Here are the instructions for disabling antialiasing:

1. Go the display properties by right-clicking the desktop and selecting properties
2. Go to the settings tab and select the advanced button
3. Select your video card tab and you should get Nvidia's popup list of options
4. Go to "performance and quality settings", where you have slider bars allowing you to change antialiasing between "off, 2x, and 4x".

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