Drox Operative Challenges
Friday, 08 June 2012

We've recently added a new feature called challenges that I think is going to be really interesting for players. Essentially challenges are special sectors that are tougher than normal, have a specific setup (not random), and do many things that can't normally happen.

How it works is every 6 levels there is another challenge sector, and one extra at level 100, for a total of 17 challenges. This is visually represented as 4 sectors per quadrant and 1 final challenge for the galaxy on the challenges screen. When you beat one, the next one unlocks and you can play any unlocked challenge sector whenever you want. Each challenge has a title and a short description to give you a little glimpse of what you will be facing in that challenge.

The big difference between a challenge sector and a normal sector is that the initial conditions are hand crafted instead of being random. They have a set level, sector size, races present, quests, wars, alliances, and even sector modifiers. This seems a little strange for a game that has so much randomness in it, however they create a cool, shared experience. It always starts out the same, but the random events and the players' actions will quickly make an impact. Then everyone can compare how their challenges went. It will be interesting to see how varied the end results will be and what the players decided to do.

Ok, so how about some actual examples? The first challenge starts off with all ten main races present when usually the max is six. It is really crowded and pretty chaotic. In one of my runs, I changed my allegiances at least three times. The fourth challenge starts with most of the sector colonized, only two races are left, and there is a huge war already. You can't possibly make them both happy, so which one do you choose? The twelfth challenge starts with one race in a huge lead, but they are at war with a four much smaller races who are allies with one another. Can the giant win or will all of the bees sting it to death? Even more importantly, who will the Drox Operatives help?

Oh, did I mention that the reward chest you get when winning a challenge for the first time is much better than a normal sector? Well it is. :)

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Drox Operative Weapons
Friday, 13 April 2012

Today we are going to talk about the weapons in Drox Operative a little. In a fantasy game, there really isn't that much of a difference between the various weapon types except their DPS (damage per second), who can use them, and sometime range. In Drox, there are way more variations. They have the usual variations in damage, speed, who can use them, and range. However, there are also many broad types that work very differently, they don't all fit into the same slots, and they cause different types of damage.

First of all, there are a lot of different types of weapons. Ballistic weapons fire a small, physical object at very high speeds (think railgun). Beam weapons fire some kind of particle beam (like a laser). Bomb weapons launch a bomb directly to the specified point in space and explodes. Doomsday weapons are massive, one use weapons which are explained more here. EM weapons fire an electromagnetic pulse of various sorts that damages and causes lingering problems. Fighter bays launch fighters of course. Freezer weapons do damage, but at the same time are designed to impact the movement of the enemy in some way. Mine weapons launch mines. While mines lack enemy tracking, they makes up for it with power. Missile weapons fires missiles that track their targets. Virus weapons use various particle beams to do damage, but also upload a virus to disrupt the enemy's systems. Then there are various other weapons that don't fit into any category very well, things like Lightning Fields, Hellfire, and Big Bang.

All of these weapons types have different damage, speeds, and ranges like usual. Missiles do a lot of damage and have great range, but are slow. Beam weapons are fast, but they're not as powerful and their damage diminishes as the distance to the target increases. EM and virus weapons do less damage, but they also have powerful debuffs. Mines and bombs do a lot of damage because they forgo tracking for pure explosive power.

Unlike a fantasy game there isn't one weapons slot (or two if you count duel weapons). The bigger more direct weapons typically fit into a heavy slot and the more tactical ones typically fit into a medium slot. Also there isn't anything from preventing you from installing multiple weapons, well except for crew requirements, power load available, and empty slots of course.

The use of weapons is also a little different than in a fantasy game. In a fantasy game you either do a generic attack or use a skill attack. Both of these are assumed to use your equipped weapon. In Drox your weapons and skills are somewhat combined so you use them more directly like you would skills. So you might use your laser beam on the fighter right next to you and launch a missile at the mothership that is further back.

And finally, all of the weapons don't cause the same types of damage. Weapons like missiles, bombs, and mines cause explosion damage. Beam weapons cause thermal damage, ballistic weapons cause kinetic damage, EM weapons cause EM damage, and while no whole category causes radiation damage, some specific weapons do. 

That's about it. That should at least give all of you a little more insight into how the weapons work. Thoughts?

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Drox alpha
Friday, 16 March 2012

So Drox Operative has been in alpha for a week now and I thought I would write up a short blog about what that means especially since alpha tends to mean different things to different developers and publishers.

For Soldak, alpha generally means the game is playable from start to finish, is fairly stable, and we hope is already fairly fun. It doesn't necessarily mean all of the assets are done or that all of the planned features have been implemented though. Alpha is also where we start getting people that aren't on the development team to play test, so we can get some outside opinions. These are almost always family and close friends.

So far the alpha seems to be going really well. We are up to our 3rd alpha build and have already made tons of changes. Sectors have been conquered, wars have been fought, there have been a few crashes here and there but it's very stable for an alpha, and most importantly it seems like everyone is having fun despite the rough edges.

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Doomsday Weapons
Friday, 24 February 2012

I believe I have briefly mentioned Doomsday weapons before but they are so much fun I thought I would devote an entire blog post to them. So what is a Doomsday Weapon? Well it's basically a weapon so big and nasty that it really might be the end of the world. Luckily there is usually more than one inhabited world.

So how do they work? You use them just like any normal weapon, except they are completely uncontrollable once launched. They will do a massive amount of damage to anyone that is too close. That includes your enemies, your allies, and even your own ship. Everything in a Doomsday Weapon's path is going to be destroyed. You need to be really careful when you let one of these loose.

This sounds way too powerful doesn't it? Well unlike a normal weapon, you can only use a Doomsday Weapon once, they are really rare, and they are extremely expensive if you can find one to buy. You're probably going to want to wait for the right opportunity to use them or when frankly you are really desperate. Oh, and what about all of those empires that are fighting each other for the galaxy? They tend to be quite fearful of those that use Doomsday Weapons, so don't expect many friends afterwards.

However, the most important part is that they are insanely fun to wield. When the Fringe treat their citizens like cattle, get pissed at you when you don't help quell the resulting revolution, and then declare war on you, there's nothing better than wiping out an entire Fringe fleet in a few seconds with your handy Armageddon Device.

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Drox Subraces
Friday, 27 January 2012

Today I'm going to talk a little about the subraces in Drox Operative just because I think they are kind of cool.

Subraces are usually a powerful, but very small group within one of the main races in Drox Operative. These subraces won't exist at all at the beginning of a new game, but can come about in various ways. Some just happen randomly due to evolution, some are created by their parent race in response to dangers, and some are just accidents. Because they are individually more powerful than an ordinary person of the race in question, they are often used for their talents and abused because they are different, but they are also generally feared. So it's not a huge surprise that when given a chance they rebel and are willing to die for their freedom.

Their rebellions can be very nasty affairs for both sides. The government is likely to quell the rebellion with deadly force and the subrace rebels will likely use their talents to gain their freedom. This of course is where the player comes in. You actually have a choice, which side do you help out? Do you help the oppressive government that you already have a relationship with or do you help out the dangerous rebels?

If the rebellion is successful, the subrace will become a fully functioning new race in your sector of the galaxy. This means they will start building ships, have a functioning economy, scout and colonize planets, and start diplomatic relationships with the other races. This will definitely be disruptive to the sector. There is now a new force to deal with, they are powerful, and they tend to be pissed off due to their mistreatment. This also means if they are ultimately successful, you better hope you backed them when they asked for help.

Let's walk through one example. The Shadow and the Dryad are at war. The Shadow are a sneaky race so they sabotage a nuclear reactor on one of the Dryad planets. This causes a huge radiation leak. The needed supplies to fix the leak don't get there in time and the leaking radiation contaminates a major water supply source. This contamination poisons many of the Dryad people, but instead of all of them dying some of them mutate. These mutants are very different from the typical Dryad people and are loathed. Even worse, when people find out they are also freakishly strong, they are feared. Fear and hate are dangerous things and the mutants are harassed, ridiculed, attacked, and many are even murdered. Soon the mutants rebel against this fear and hate. With the local Drox Operative ignoring the conflict, the mutants eventually win their freedom and take three of the Dryad planets as their own. The Shadow are happy because they split the Dryad empire in two, the Dryads took a major hit in power, and the Mutants are now a fully fledged race that are pissed at the Dryads, the Drox Operatives, and the galaxy in general.

Thoughts?

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