Drox Operative 2?
For those of you that follow us on social media or our forums this isn't a surprise, but I've started working on the design of what will probably end up being Drox Operative 2. I say probably because to me design is kind of an exploration and you aren't completely sure where you will end up. I'm pretty sure it will end up being Drox Operative 2, but Din's Legacy was originally going to be a mutating, permadeath, generational character type of game. The mutations is the only part that stuck (the rest just didn't work well enough with the mutation system).
Currently, and this all could easily change, I have 3 focuses to make this game better than the first Drox Operative.
1) Combat/action: I'm looking to make the moment to moment side of things a bit more fun. This will probably mean things like faster acceleration, faster turning, and maybe even strafing to make movement and dodging a bit more fun and important. Weapons might be more powerful, but rely less on auto-aiming. I'll probably also try to see how real momentum makes things feel.
2) Graphics: I'll at least be getting it up to Din's Legacy tech wise: VBOs, normal mapping, better shadows, and better lighting. Just doing this would make the game look a good bit better than the first game. It might even go faster and Drox was our most CPU friendly game.
3) More detailed systems to add more depth to the exploration, gameplay, and interactions between everything. By this I mean things like a planet could be rich in minerals. After discovering this planet, selling this information to a race might be very profitable, it could greatly help that race build fleets of ships once colonized, and it could also be a weak point for sneaky Operatives to disrupt or even destroy.
Again these are things that I'm thinking about now, but could easily change. Also these are just a small glimpse of the ideas I'm already thinking about.
Finally I would like to stress this part, comments and suggestions are always welcome!
Drox is my favorite of your games.
I "only" want another Drox, but better deeper smoother, as i "only" want a great hack&slash with spaceships.
So, that's it for feedbacks. Your focus seem well placed, so far.
If you're looking for some inspiration for combat mechanics, may I suggest checking out two other hidden gem indies?
It's a 4x pausable real time strategy game, but it has a unique tactical combat system I've not seen replicated anywhere. Each turn you choose a maneuver from a list that grows the more XP the ship has. Every weapon system has a specific firing arc, so combat turns into a furious game of cat and mouse where the two ships are trying to bring the enemy into range while avoiding being targeted themselves.
Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages
It's an asteroids-style newtonian shooter with a massive selection of ships and components that in many ways resembles the customization from the Armored Core games. One particular thing to note is the game's heat and energy management systems and the many ways they play off one another to keep the action going.
I've given more detailed suggestions in the Drox forum itself but my number one suggestion for Drox 2 is less offscreen dice rolls, more interactive moving parts.
Mutations implementation in Drox,could be difficult,due to variability of races of Drox agents.As i think it could be that Drox agent find an ancient ship of an unknown origin(could be few variation of ship look like),which has adjusted to the race of the new pilot(initial settings of the ship and improvements), and then as an option to obtain mutations of the ship to look for ancient technology(Dark Star One game have that,but in there player choose in what direction to upgrade/mutate) or as in Din's Legacy second line of experience for pumping mutations. :)
About Combat: auto aim was huge part in first Drox game,so if you want to make less auto aiming weapons,then maybe make aiming and firing on mouse and movement on arrows or WASD,but i still think that it could be an optional for autoaim.About movement can look StarCom Nexus and about movement and strafing look Star Valor and VoidExpanse.
About Graphics:in each new game the graphics are improved
compared to previous games,so its up to you :)
About Systems:make some planets have satelites(moons),that can give different bonuses to main planets,also maybe planets should move around suns(actualy not many devs do that,only Space Rangers 1&2 come in mind).
Bear in mind when playing STUN that the game defaults to autocombat. Turn that option off.
Drox 2 Thoughts
I'm a big fan of D.O., but I'd like to see smooth game play, thats the most important thing. As for some general suggestions, Please don't force us to spam points in Command to get a bigger ship. Maybe instead only let command give you up to 2 extra slots in each equip slot type? and have the actual levels of the ships grant bigger sizes, so say, some thing like 1 slot in each every 33 levels? Also, I'd really like to see more viable defensive options, I had to make a mod for Drox that let you actually build for a def type or hybrid. So that means, more hull options with hull regeneration, more armor options with armor regeneration, ect and hybrid options would be very nice. -- or Computers that just give large bonuses to dif. types of regeneration, say a computer slot that gives say 75 shield regen a second.(level 100 example) but have these options for all the types of defenses. Skill based game play is great and all, but if you can't keep your ship up, or have to spam healing items every time there off cooldown it won't feel good to play I think. Healing items should be used only in desperation, not as a "as soon as its off cooldown" type thing. all that being said, i'd love to see some better cloaking options that keep you hidden, not just "as soon as you are seen by an enemy" These ships should cloak and only be seen if an enemy ship can do a scan pulse that checks for cloaked ships. I'd also love to see some ships that can phase, as in, Shift detentions to avoid taking damage, but also while shifted, they can't deal damage. or an 'Evasive action' type of use computer that increases your chance to dodge incoming damage at different values. movement does need drifting, I'll say that, thrusters should also help you turn faster or more effectively the higher your thrust is. helping you to stop faster and accelerate faster.
all that being said, I'd also love to see ships that arn't combat focused, that have say, some sort of flag that lets them be ignored or less likely to be attacked, so that they can 'Mine, craft, search for resources, negotiate, or even run trade caravans to other systems for EXP and money. It would let alt characters have a reason to exist, no more One character wonder. so you'd have your combat ship, built for dealing damage. A ship that you could play that lets you farm money/resources/rep/ect. that you could use to upgrade your other ships, things like that you could unlock on your account, so they affect all of your characters(ships) but these goals should be hard/time consuming, its an ARPG after all. I want to get so many rep points with a faction, and then that lets me say, have them offer a special service to me, or get faction discounts, or recruit them as a follower, things like that. say you spend a lot of time helping a faction(this effects the account not just the individual character) that the end-game for that faction is unlocking the ability to upgrade gear, by adding up to 3 additional stats to an item, no matter the rarity, having this as an account goal would really make me want to grind rep for that faction. But with changes like this, you'd have to have the game save the rep for your account with each faction so it would not be a 'by the game' type thing, these would be very long lofty goals. I like that every faction had a unique thing they could do for you in the original game, but it was available from the start, they need to be things you unlock with time and serous investment in said faction. I'd also like to see some sort of balancing act where you may be grinding rep with one faction, but that could potentially lower your rep with another faction. that way you can't just build for every thing. This means that every faction would have to have a mechanic that is REALLY GOOD, and very desirable. A faction with a bad reward is a faction I would ignore.
Sorry for the long post, but I think its very important to have lots of end game viable builds/play styles and lots of things to grind for, or even scenarios where you have to fight a like, super capital ship thats like 75% of the screen, and has multiple phases and stuff, like a raid boss would be. not just so over powered but a ship that you have to fight for a long time, and has phases, think shaper in Path of Exile. boss fights would be amazing, if done correctly.
All Defensive options should have light, medium and heavy component versions. hybrids would help too.
Skills. Agreed, only really have pulse weapons(AoE novas centered on the player) and lasers be auto- target.
I'd really like to see missiles be a type of skill where you hold down the button and it puts a bunch of red cross-hairs on the target and then when you let go, it fires all the missiles at once. the limit of missiles can be on the weapon, or by how much energy you have, up to you really.
Warheads should be 2 to 10 min. cooldowns with Big arsh AoE and it can kill you if your in the blast radius.
Mines should have larger AoE and Trigger Radius, allowing for a 'Trapper' type play style, maybe even with some sort of distress beacon you can cast out that taunts enemies to investigate its location.
Rail guns/Ballistic weapons should fire much faster, i'd say like every 0.35 to 0.50 so you get that 'Shoot'em Up!' Feeling. Faster travel time, higher energy cost.
Energy in general should feel very important and some thing you have to take care of, like say, if your weapons cost a lot of energy to use, you need to figure out a way to restore energy fast, be it Stacking energy regeneration, energy on kill, on hit, when it, when you use a non-combat item, when a crew member boards an enemy ship, ect. energy management should be a thing. not to where it slows down combat, but it needs to be vital to your survival. ---Note: In the Original Drox, you had to equip like 4 to 6 energy leech light components just to keep your energy up. this was not fun. please let that one be much better then it currently is, at least 3 to 4 times as strong, or make a legendary version or some thing, lol.
I'd love to see utility items. Say, automated scanners that pulse out and scan for hidden resources/enemies/treasure/quests or distress beacons. Computers that can repair your ship, automated nano ships that swarm around you shooting healing beams kinda things. Better minion support, say you could have some sort of mining ship, that you outfit with a drone bay to protect you while you collect resources. or be able to gain the ability to still mine/gather things while cloaked, so you're not attacked. this would only be helpful if you implement my stealth cloak idea, where the enemies have to actively scan for you with like some sort of radar that pulses out from there ships and have varying AoE ranges. You could also have a utility that will auto find enemy ships that attack you from stealth kinda like a trajectory finder. Maybe a heavy component thats a drone that flies around and scavenges ships or nodes/planets ect. so you don't have to.
CAMERA. Please zoom out! It feels soo close to the screen! I wana see ALOT I'm not saying EVE levels of zoom out, but at least double what you have in Drox 1.
Also, Every ship should have a designated crew area, based on ship size, no longer considered 'Light Components' They would have there own tray.
Crafting should be a thing, but maybe have it where you can only start crafting on a white item, and when you click to upgrade it, maybe have the game generate 2 to 3 possible stats, and you chose the one you want out of the 2 or 3 choices. and maybe an option to force a specific stat on the item at a high cost. Also these items would be there own tier(a color not currently in use with the normal color tiers you use) and they could have up to say, 6 stats on them. This would let players be on the look out for white/grey item base types to pick up and try to craft into some thing that might be on par or slightly better then Legendaries. Crafting should be expensive. Crafting Resources would be account wide. not character bound.
I think thats all that came to my mind at this point and time. sorry for the long post!
I'm super stoked for Drox Op 2. The first one is by far my favorite Soldak game and also overall one of the most unique ARPGs out there that I've played. The biggest issue I'd like you to look into in the sequel, however, is adding a bit of balance. I know that balance is difficult to achieve in your games, but D.O suffered from a few glaring issues such as the Command stat being too much of a god stat. The idea of having a bigger ship tied to some attribute seems to not be such a great idea as it completely eclipses the other stats in importance. Better balance for defensive options would be nice too.
I look forward to this release and I assume that it's going to be in Early Access as well just as the previous two games were as well.
Assuming command points stayed somewhat similar as Drox 1, I would like it so smaller ships were much more viable in general.
I can't imagine not doing Early Access.
This is fantastic news! The depth of Drox is great, but, as noted, it didn't "feel" as good as it could have; it was really a slog flying around a lot of the time, especially early on when you were underpowered. But all the underlying systems are solid and don't need a lot of overhaul. Sure, let's add some things, let's maybe remove some pain points, and let's polish the hell out of it, but, man, that core game is solid.
I really feel like this could be the biggest game ever for Soldak, by a large margin, if done right -- all the ingredients are already there.
Total stream of consciousness:
You've always done well with having lots of options and modifiers for characters and games -- with that in place, don't fear going a little easy on the new players with the default settings. There's a lot to take in if you're new to a Soldak game, and the last thing you want is for a newbie to be frustrated if it is too challenging. (I saw mentions of new characters starting in essentially unwinnable scenarios in Din's Legacy -- we want to avoid those situations, unless you're explicitly tweaking the options to make it possible or even likely.) And who doesn't love dropping in and annihilating some baddies from the get go. We can crank things up from there, but make sure the initial impressions are not disheartening.
Soldak has always gotten a lot of side eye for outdated UIs, game engine and graphics in general. Drox has always stood out above the others simply due to its setting. However, bringing in a new level of polish to the UI and screens would make a HUGE difference. We've been looking at slight iterations of the same thing for over a decade. Please bring in some fresh UX talent to overhaul this and make it shine. Get multiple different mockups. Involve the community. There are a lot of very smart, very passionate fans that understand these games to a deep extent, and we would love to be involved VERY early on in some of these things before it gets past the implementation point to where there can only be tweaks. (I'm reminded of Arcen Games and AI War 2, and them giving non-staffers source code access for bug fixing, feature development, etc. There's very little to lose and so much to gain for dropping the secrecy veil in today's day and age. I'm not suggesting you go that far, but keeping the early development process totally private and locked away is likely more harmful than letting even a choice subset of the community into that process.)
Related to the above, invest in more art assets in general to make this stand out and shine. Please don't just use the existing assets as the base and slightly modify them. I know the why, and it makes sense... but let's break that mold and squelch the primary complaint in Soldak games. If we have returning enemy models, re-do them from scratch, don't use the existing models at all. Luckily, here there aren't going to be the same amount of arguments about dumping your engine and rewriting everything, because of the space environment and non-terrestrial things. But, if a major overhaul of the UI system is going to be needed to support making this thing look amazing, please do it. A lot of things still feel too chunky, the font is not appropriate for a futuristic, tech heavy sci-fi game. It's on the right track, don't get me wrong... but let's compare it to other modern games in the same general genre. And maybe the extremely flexible way it's currently built isn't needed in today's climate; do we really need to support 20 screen resolutions down to 800 x 600, if the UI framework is a limiting factor there? If overhauling that system loses some of that flexibility, that very well might be a sacrifice worth making.
Your ship's equipped components being just a bunch of squares to put stuff in is totally functional, but it could be so so much better, even if done somewhat similarly with a little bit more flair. Or, try going more all out and do paper dolls for each of the ships to slot things much more specifically (thinking Gratuitous Space Battes/2 here). Actually, I like GSB's different shapes for the different tiers of components. Here's an example of hexagon vs. square components on a ship paper doll: https://positech.co.uk/gratuitousspa...-img/full7.jpg Maybe further differentiating by component type could even be possible, if we're not using basic equal-sided polygons. And if the art of the component were allowed to go over/outside of that shape, even better.
There is a happy marriage of somewhat arcade-y combat that still has strategy to it, on top of the rest of the game that's there. Finding that middle ground should be the priority, and it should be massaged until it's just right.
Maps and shadows and lighting upgrades -- I think this is going to be a big one. Shiny, sexy ships are going to make this the most breathtaking Soldak game ever. Do a lot of research, look at a lot of games and aim for the stars here. You're really good at optimizing, so let's focus on this. Paired with a more modern looking UI, we're golden.
I think something that was lacking in Drox 1 was the "character" of individual enemy types. Yes, there were lots of different models; yes, there were lots of different weapons; yes, there were different mechanics. But for the majority of them, you approached the fight identically. I suggest cutting the number of enemies way down to start, and make them feel more unique, give them more character, make it so I'm actively looking around and I have to consciously think about how I'm going to handle this enemy/group of enemies. (Not just, well, "let's aggro them and kite them and hit them with this same barrage I do everything else.") Perhaps there are less random enemies flying around, but offset by other interesting things to do while flying around.
The whole "they are monsters but they're also kinda living spaceships" thing was always weird to me. Let's not just recycle everything here... let's really make these things make more sense. Make the "monstery" ones be more organic; perhaps they're propelled differently than just normal thrusters, their weapons shouldn't be the same missiles, mines and lasers that ships use. Make it unmistakable that this is a different thing altogether than a spaceship. Make other (non main-race) enemies more directly spaceships with other races, subraces or AIs piloting them. Let's make this make more sense out of the box.
While totally functional, the whole "here's component A, and there are 10 (or 12 or 15 or whatever) tiers of it that are essentially identical with some number bumps" could be streamlined. I appreciate the different names and art, but once you realize the underlying functionality, it seems shallow. Perhaps we throw different potential modifiers that could be rolled on different versions, and they're not just 1-10 sequential upgrades; perhaps the basic laser you find early on does scale, and has a modifier that is unique to it that keeps you using that one rather than one of its successors (which have different modifiers). Making hard decisions with components is fun, as long as you're not buried with 15 simultaneous affixes that are impossible to compare. It's okay to let people make OP builds with just the right combination of components. This isn't a competitive MOBA, things don't need to be perfectly balanced at any cost.
Lastly... we know you're not a huge studio with deep pockets. We're all happy to buy in during the beta period, but perhaps consider a Kickstarter or similar campaign? If it fails, have you really turned anyone off that would've bought it otherwise? But it could be a windfall, particularly if you line up some solid mockups of what the main combat would look like with sexier rendering and lighting, and some mockups of what the UI could be. Make it clear that you're listening to both your fans and critics, and want to make this THE Soldak game that solidifies your legacy.
Drox Operative is well loved throughout your playerbase, for good reason; let's take it to the next level, and not just an iteration, but through a wormhole into a whole other plane of awesomeness.
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