Sunday, May 6, 2012

Steven Peeler interview

You can read my last interview with Steven Peeler from Soldak right here

1. Hello Steven, I'm really happy you have time for this interview, so please describe what is Soldak in terms of objectives?

We’re similar to many indie companies; we simply want to create really fun games that aren’t being created by the mainstream games industry.

2. What about your next game, Drox Operative? Can you describe it?

Drox Operative is a starship action RPG with warring alien races, fierce space battles, a dynamic, evolving galaxy, and co-op multiplayer for Windows and Mac.

Eons ago the Drox ruled the galaxy through their mighty Operatives. These elite starship captains were trained to accomplish the impossible at whatever cost necessary. Whether employing stealth or brute force, they were always deadly. Using these Operatives, the Drox built a starlane system for quick travel amongst the stars, colonized and conquered millions of planets, and ruled the galaxy with an iron grip for over 100,000 years.
Eventually realizing their Operatives were a threat, they attempted to assassinate all of them. They failed. The following Galactic Civil War was devastating.

Thousands of years later, the Drox are extinct, but the secretive Drox Operative guild lives on. They have learned their lesson though: loyalty to any one race is foolish. They now work for whoever can pay. And pay they do! Empires might span hundreds of planets and thousands of ships, but when a critical task arises, they still turn to an Operative.

In the new space race, the major races are scouting, colonizing, and expanding, trying to take over the galaxy by diplomacy, technology, war, or any other means their scheming minds can contemplate.

As a Drox Operative it's NOT your job to manage all of those annoying people, build thousands of buildings, play nice with your enemies, or balance the budget. It IS your job to pick the winning side and maybe even help them conquer the galaxy if you're being nice, more importantly though is to rake in as many credits as possible, well that and build the coolest, deadliest ship in the known universe. Not many screw with an Operative captaining a Dreadnaught!

3. Your past works was action rpgs with innovative ideas and systems, why change and try to build a "a starship action RPG" ?

Well, we’re really big sci-fi fans and we wanted to do something that was different. However, we also wanted to do something that our current fans will still love. We felt that a starship action RPG would accomplish all of this.

As a side note, given that Diablo 3 is launching within a couple weeks, I’m pretty happy that we aren’t working on a fantasy game right now.

4. Compared to your last game, Din's Curse, what kind of new features players could find?

The biggest new feature is basically all of the diplomacy with the races vying for control of your current sector of space. It’s up to you who to support, who to hinder, and how you will accomplish all of this. Just a reminder, it’s your goal to eventually be on the winning side. It gets tricky pretty fast though.

For example, the ship Cyano is terrorizing the star system that you are currently scouting.You believe that you could win the battle and the Cortex are offering a pretty hefty bounty for the destruction of Cyano. Do you destroy Cyano and collect on the bounty? In this case, the Cortex are the second most powerful race, they are well behind the Drakk empire, the Cortex and the Drakk are at war, and the Drakk don’t particular like you.
Yeah, it just got much more complex.
If you take the bounty, you will make the second most powerful race happier and more stable, but at the same time you will piss off the most powerful race. Do you take the quick cash and try to repair the relations hit later? Do you throw your full weight behind the Cortex and try to overthrow the Drakk? Or do you kiss up to the Drakk and let the Cortex handle their own problems? It’s completely up to you.

5. Your next game will be a real time game, with to tactic-pause or turn based options, why this choice?

I’m personally a huge fan of turn based games, but we feel that real-time works better with our dynamic galaxy gameplay. You can actually pause whenever you want to change your strategy and tactics (assuming you’re not playing multiplayer).

6. In a Drox Operative play seems to be immersed into a 4x (eXplore eXpand eXploit eXterminate, like Master Of Orion 2, or Galactic Civilization) play, from a different perspective, it's true ?

Yes, from a background perspective it is very similar to 4X games. However, instead of controlling an entire empire like a real 4X game, you are an elite operative that chooses which races to help out. Overall it’s your goal to ally with the winning side, either by becoming friends with the strongest or forging one of the races into the strongest.

7. What sort of influence can have a lone Drox Operative in a game of thrones (ops, races)? What player can do?

There is a lot a Drox Operative can do to change the outcome of a sector. A few of the things that they can do to help out their chosen race(s): scout for bountiful planets, locate technology to speed up a race’s research, destroy dangerous monsters, give monetary gifts, and solve major problems like Galactic Flu, incoming comets, and geomagnetic storms.

8. What kind of ultimate goal player have? Destroy a race? Maintain peace in galaxy? 100 level of play?

Sure a skilled Operative can destroy races or maintain peace if they want to, but their ultimate goal is to ally themselves with the most dominate race and help them conquer the sector. A true Drox Operative would never do anything less.

9. How do you plan to balance a dynamic game like this?

We balance these types of things mostly with lots and lots of testing during alpha and beta. In our developer builds, we also have a bunch of cheat codes and automated testing that helps quite a bit.

10. Do you plan to release some guides or tutorial to mod Drox ?

Yes. We will release info and tools similar to what we have done with our previous games. The nice thing is that with the help of our gamers each new game of ours gets more and more modable.

11. When game will be ready? Do you plan to release a demo?

We will definitely have a demo. Unless something pretty radical happens in the future, we will always release a demo for each of our games.

I’m not sure when the game will be ready, other than when we feel it’s done. Right now the game is in alpha testing and everything is going very well.

12. Thanks Steven and keep work! Do you think it's possible a Depth of Perils 2 ?

It’s certainly possible that will we make Depths of Peril 2 at some point in time, but right now I have no idea what we will work on next.

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