Ideas for Drox 2
I thought I'd start a thread for this, since I keep having ideas and they're being left all over the place. Needless to say, these are all simply my opinion.
First, I think it's important to state what makes Drox so good. I acknowledge that I missed this when Drox was released, as I was constantly comparing it to DC and DoP, and Drox is just very different. Drox's quest system is not personal, like in the fantasy games. It happens to other races. It *could* become personal, were you to get the mission of protecting a specific race, but otherwise, it's not the main focus. Rather, the main focus is the background simulation, which includes real resources in the form of planets, food, minerals etc, and the way the quests interact with and affect the simulation.
It doesn't hurt that compared to the state of the art in space games, Drox fares well. There aren't many space ARPGs, and Drox looks good enough. Space is empty, so you don't need much in terms of background objects. And animations aren't needed for spaceships. This makes it much easier to compete.
Additionally, Drox's inventory and skill system is more interesting than a regular ARPG's due to power consumption limits, slot limits, and the fact that skills are item-based. This makes it so that you can enjoy Drox purely at the basic gameplay loop level of killing monsters and upgrading.
However, when Drox really comes into its own, is when you start caring about what's happening in the simulation. If you don't care who wins the space race and you're just looking to make money, the quests blend together. You just keep shooting and someone somewhere will give you a quest reward. But if you *do* care - for example, if the people winning hate you, or you got a Drox guild mission to protect a race or destroy a race - now you want to pay attention to what's happening at the simulation level, and this is when Drox outshines every other game in its genre IMO.
Given this, here are some ideas:
* We need a better interface to view all known planets and their general statistics. Filter by race ownership, type, etc. Currently it's just too disorganized and hard to get a grip on what planet is important to which race. The UI could also show us available quests per planet as we hover over these planets.
* Spying: by planting a spy network, you could get advanced info on where a race is sending a colony ship, where they plan on attacking etc. This would help you affect the simulation in meaningful ways.
* Relationship breakdown: it's great that you can see the relationship breakdown between a race and yourself (ie. why they have the current relationship number towards you). I'd also like to see it between 2 other races. It's annoying to spend hundreds of credits on a negative rumor, only to not see it influence anything. At least if you knew why a race's relationship was improving with another race, you could figure out what to do about it.
* General goals: some people clearly like the current method of having open goals. I think it's valid, and to me it can remain as an option (sandbox mode) in Drox 2. However, as stated above, the game really clicks IMO when you get/have more specific goals, because now you're not just doing quests to improve relations -- you now have to consider which quests to do, whom to help, whom you want to hurt by not doing their quests (or making things worse for them), which planets need your help, etc. It's when you think at the strategic level that the game shows you why it's the best in its class: "I need to break up the close relationship between Drakk and Dryad. Let's make an alliance with another ally of Drakk, then declare war on Dryad, and Drakk will have to honor their alliance," etc.
As such, I think the Ancients, who automatically dislike the Drox, bring a ton of flavor to the game, as do the Guild missions. Some people dislike the guild missions though because they distract you from the thing you were trying to do before they arrived. This is due to the fact that the guild missions don't analyze the situation that exists before they pop up, which is hard to do. They also don't give you any flexibility -- you have to do this one thing or you lose. And they often don't give you enough time given how many changes you'd need to make (e.g. killing a race with more than 3 planets could take more than an hour. If you haven't found that race, just finding it can take an hour).
My suggestion is to have a choice of sandbox mode (the current mode) which will remain undisturbed by the Drox guild OR mission mode. In mission mode, your mission could be one of: making enough money, create an alliance, destroy a race, protect a race etc. It could also be 'destroy this race or alternatively make this much money' in case destroying the race is just impractical given the random circumstances. I also still like the idea of additional, surprise Drox guild missions arriving later in the game, but they should give you a lot of time to do your thing, as well as some flexibility in their objectives.
TL;DR: More focused goals increase tension, and surprise goals are good but need to be more flexible and/or give more time. Sandbox (ie. current vanilla Drox mode) needs to be kept as an option for those who like it.
* We need ways to take down (or at least severely weaken) large, runaway empires. The method I'm thinking of to allow for this is that after growing past 5 or 6 planets, a race would have to start specializing several planets, as it's now an empire. It should have a seat of government. It needs to have a factory planet that can provide ships to other planets in large enough numbers. Of course, this complicates the AI somewhat, but hopefully not by too much. The key thing is that now, you can focus on a few choice planets to destroy to immobilize an empire rather than fighting an impossible fight against an empire that grows faster than you can destroy its planets. For example, if you take out the seat of government, the empire could fall into anarchy and split into different factions. If you take out the factory planet, ship production will stall everywhere. If you take out the food planets, the empire will starve, greatly weakening it. etc.
* Along a similar vein, planets that are richest in minerals and resources should be low in food production in general. In this way, they become dependent on food-rich planets and need shipments of food, which you would be able to intercept. This allows you to indirectly weaken planets or even destroy them potentially, again hurting large empires.
* Transfers between planets could happen with 'dummy ships' that aren't really created using resources, but just represent the transfer of goods and enable you (or monsters) to intercept them.
That's a lot of good ideas Bluddy! One concentrated thread is great, but I am definitely collecting Drox 2 ideas from various places and storing them into one idea file in case a sequel happens.
I'll add an old idea I posted a while back for a 2nd expansion:
One thing that I think needs to be reworked for a Drox 2 is the rarity system. It simply doesn't work well given way the item system works in Drox.
In the fantasy games, you basically have 2 main stats: damage and armor, with armor coming from many items. If you get a lot of extra attributes, that's a nice bonus, often making up for a lower damage, but especially lower armor, given how many armor items you have.
Each component in Drox is utilized for its primary attribute more than anything else, given the limited slots and power constraints. What you want is the maximum primary attribute you can get for the least amount of power, and a rare item cannot compensate for its lower primary attribute or high power usage by having other attributes. The rarity of the items therefore needs to be reworked to be mostly about the primary attribute per power, with extra attributes being a relatively minor addition.
* Since Drox is already a WASD-driven game, it may be easiest to expand Drox 2 to be even more controller-friendly, or even controller-first. The next step after that is to allow for split-screen local gaming.
* One thing that's missing in Drox is a clear differentiation between star systems. They have similar-sounding names, but the beautiful backgrounds aren't easy to associate with particular systems. Giving each system a different space background color (green, purple, blue) will help players remember which system is which. That color could emanate from the sun in the middle.
* Speaking of which, one thing that's rarely actually seen in Drox is the sun of each system. A great target for graphical enhancement in the sequel is the map of the star system. If the map zooms out really far rather than using the old Soldak map, it could show the star(s) in the middle, giving a real sense of being in a star system. This would be a good chance to upgrade the map system and make it more meaningful. Fog of war could be represented as real fog, for example. Getting back to the action would rapidly zoom you into the map at your current location.
Playing some DL and Zombasite reminded me how little the focus in Drox is on the ARPG layer. I think much of this has to do with how forgettable the neutral enemies are. This isn't the fault of the designer, it's just how humans work. The fantasy monsters look distinct to us, but the ships just all blend together.
Here's what I think can be done about it:
* Try to make different neutral ships even more distinct.
* Instead of trying to teach the player about all these neutral ships, have 2 categories: space monsters (Talon, Overwatch) and space pirates. The pirates can hail from every space race.
Because the player trains himself to recognize the space races (since they matter so much) identifying the pirates should be much easier than random ships. The pirates can still have varying powers, but there are enough races in the game to populate the multitude of pirate ships. Pirate ships could look like race ships, but be a little different (like the Zombies in Zombasite).
In other words, leverage the fact that the player already has to learn what race ships are like, to have them automatically know what pirate ships are like.
* Since most combat in Drox happens at longer ranges, zooming out further could be useful.
Talking globally, we may see three patterns in Soldak games:
1. Depths of Peril (settlement/population management)
2. Din's Curse (dungeon crawling)
3. Drox (fast-paced ARPG with touch of 4X).
Zombasite is mix of 1 and 2, Din's Legacy is mix of 2 and 3 (?). So, logically, Drox 2 should be a mix of 1 and 3, i.e. it should take even a heavier 4X aspect while keeping ARPG basics :) Build your own space empire, develop your planets, conquer the other races' worlds, fight space battles and invade planets in ground battles, manage your fleet - while still keeping being a separate character with gear, skills and such.
I really, really, hope that one day I will see the game like Hinterlands or Legends of Elaria, where you will be able to manage your own place and your people but at the same time you will be able to go out questing and slaying dragons.
I am yet to see a decent execution of these combined ideas, even tho it should not be that hard. Guess this is one market niche that will never get filled...
My biggest suggestion is get rid of Rumors and Propaganda and Sabotage as empty offscreen dicerolls and replace them with activities that make use of your ship and build. For example, instead of a planting a rumor to improve relations, it's replaced with "sponsor a diplomatic delegation with X" which spawns a diplomat ship. The expensive option could have a whole armada of escort ships protecting the diplomat while the cheapest option sends out the diplomat by their lonesome and it's up to the player alone to see them to their destination alive.
My next suggestion is to get rid of command points and instead increase module capacity with ship sections that function like the "bags" system. So for example the player's ship starts with Mk1 warp nacelles that only have capacity for one heavy thruster module, but can upgrade to Mk 2 which fits one heavy and one light. So you'd have things like Engineering that fits power generators, Bridge that fits crewmembers, and so forth.
And if you go with my second suggestion, I suggest instead of switching between ship "classes" each with their own separate model that you have modular ship models displaying these sections. So you'd have a central "hull" section that forms the main model of the ship and each successive larger hull section has a larger model, and the things like warp nacelles and weaponry models would be attached to the hull the same way you display armor and weapons attached to a character's model in the fantasy games.
Thanks for hearing out these suggestions!
Oh boy! I'm thrilled to hear you're working on Drox 2. So thrilled I have some more suggestions to throw on the pile:
1. Differentiate between faction-advantaging and general-welfare missions. Helping an enemy faction finish their research or colonize a planet should piss off my allies, yes. Killing a monster boss who's planning on killing everyone or destroying a device causing ion storms everywhere shouldn't make my allies angry just because the unpopular kid suggested it.
2. Change the way energy supply works. Right now it's really unfun to get into a swarm of monsters and shoot your guns empty then just be stuck waiting to regenerate or gobbling down mana potions to be able to do anything. I have two possible suggestions:
a) Take a cue from space sims like Freespace 2 and have two independently charging energy pools, one offensive one defensive. For example: a weapon power pool and an afterburner power pool. The player alternates between shooting and dodging so the action remains nonstop.
b) Instead of functioning like a spell mana pool, have your energy stat control weapon firing rates.
3. This one is a major change, but I think it would really improve the experience by making it feel more like the player is a space-spy:
Make the races have larger fleets that are much more dangerous to tackle head-on, but have more of the individual pieces of their infrastructure represented by destroyable structures (shipyards, habitat domes, solar collectors, etc).
Change cloaking devices into a Drox-exclusive system, possibly with expanded customization options, to represent why Drox mercenaries should be so valued by the races since the Drox can do deep strikes against the enemy's infrastructure where their own fleets can't reach.
Implement the "crafting table" mechanic from Din's Legacy at every functional gate in the game so a Drox player can operate deep in enemy space for extended periods of time.
Really looking forward to Drox 2!
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