Friends, a few months ago, when I learned that Drox Operative 2 might be a thing, I emailed Steven Peeler — Soldak’s founder — to ask him some questions about it (my questions are in bold), knowing nothing about the game other than its existence. Thankfully the answers have come back, and I hope you’re as excited to read them and learn more about this game as I am. Enjoy!
You seemed to hem and haw on an actual sequel to Drox for a while? What finally convinced you to move forward with an actual sequel?
I was always hoping I could return to the Drox world, the first one was quite fun to work on. The hemming and hawing was really just because I don’t tend to make decisions on future games. I try to focus on the current game as much as possible.
What would you say you were least satisfied with in regards to the first game that you hope to correct in the sequel?
I would say it was the movement in general. It ended up being slower, and not as important as other systems, as I would have liked. In the sequel, it has been sped up quite a bit, you can dodge more incoming attacks than before, and you can actually collide with enemy ships. Basically, used well movement can help you greatly and used poorly it will get you into more trouble.
On the opposite tack, what do you think worked best in the original that you hope to improve or expand upon in the sequel?
I think the atmosphere of existing in this universe that responds to your actions but also evolves based on what all of the races are doing worked really well and is still pretty unique. This is still very true in the sequel, but we are giving the players even more tools to impact the universe around them.
Will all the races from the original game make an appearance in the sequel? Any new races?
All of the normal (mature) races will be there just like before. The ancient races from the Invasion of the Ancients expansion will also be in Drox 2, but after being defeated, they are more willing to negotiate and form treaties.
The new, young races are all randomly generated, so there will essentially be infinite new races. You could run into a plant sentient species that loves all living creatures and just wants to co-exist and peacefully trade with their neighbors. You could also run into an insect race that wants to exterminate all other sentient life. And you can discover just about anything between those two extremes.
Combat in the original game was wonderfully fluid and varied. How much work is going into making the combat in the sequel just as exciting?
First I made movement more important. It’s faster, you can dodge projectiles better, and you have to actually pay attention to colliding with enemies. There are also new types of weapons like plasma cannons and even ramming components if you want to use collision as a weapon. And finally we are making each of the classes of weapons more unique like beams are quite deadly at short ranges, plasma cannons fire very fast and are cheap energy wise, and ballistics pierce through enemies and can hit more enemies.
I loved the variety of quests in the original game. Is more variety being added to the quests, and if so, can you elaborate?
I actually haven’t touched the quest system that much yet, but I’m planning on adding more quests that the races want you to do (spying?), more things the races need you to do because of crises, and quests that start based on things you find while exploring.
The original game had just about every aspect of a 4X game except espionage? Is there a chance we might get to see recon or spy missions in the sequel?
There isn’t anything in there yet, but I have some ideas about how you as an Operative might be able to do some spying or how you might help races spy on one another.
Planet interaction in the original game was a bit limited. Might we be able to do more with planets this time, such as tag transport colonists or other missions?
I think the biggest change regarding planets is I plan on getting more information to the player so they can make better decisions about planets, like which planets does a race make all of their money from and which ones generate all of their needed minerals. Also, you will hopefully know where colony, diplomat, and freighter ships are going.
Last time, even though you could build fighters, in single player the game was a lonely affair at times. Might there be any way to hire other ships for more fleet-centric actions?
I don’t think you will be able to have a permanent fleet, as that goes against the idea that you are a lone mercenary, but you might be able to coordinate and get reports of fleet activity so you can join in big battles.
What is the most challenging part of making this new Drox game, either from a programming or design perspective?
Since this is a true sequel, I think the hardest part is going to be adding new things and modifying old things without hurting what made Drox special.
Finally, what are you most excited about in Drox II that you’d like to share with fans of the first game?
I really like all of the new exploration stuff. Things like finding rare minerals that are worth a ton to the races and discovering primitive races are just cool.