We conducted an interview with the developers of space 4X strategy Astra Exodus, in which we ask them some interesting questions.
What year will the action Astra Exodus be set and what is the main history of this world?
The game takes place in the year 2-983+02.23 AE, that roughly translate into 3.000 Earth years after humanity started the exodus from its home world. The Exodus is a subject of which the terrans, as the descendants of humanity now call themselves, do not know much about; given the data corruption and the secondary effects of cryogenic sleep during the long voyage. What is known is that humanity was almost exterminated by an unknown force called “The Dark Ones” and in order to survive, was forced to flee through a wormhole called “The Great Eye”. This mystery has long been maintained by “The Awakened”, those few individuals that in each generation are awakened from cryosleep, who usually refuse to talk about what happened; if they even remember something worthwhile after such a long sleep.
The game’s campaign casts you then as a recently promoted Commander of the Exodus Legacy Task Force, a newly created section of the Terran Republic Navy, in charge by presidential decree; of exploring the nearby space in search of clues that will shed light on the Exodus. And ultimately, if possible, of locating mankind’s ancient home world.
You wrote that player decisions in the campaign have an effect on the gameplay and plot. Could you tell a few more details about this? How is it going to work?
Basically you have a non linear story, in which your decisions from mission to mission, affect not only how the story develops; but also what missions are available to play. Specifically you as a player might be presented with conflicting main objectives in a mission, whichever of those you complete, represents your choice and determine what the following mission will be. Your choice is then of course reflected on the debriefing of the mission, plus what heroes and techs are awarded upon completion, for the rest of the campaign. The idea behind this mechanic, beyond the obvious “make your own adventure”, is to encourage replay-ability; especially on higher difficulty levels.
How powerful will heroes be?
Heroes are quite powerful, depending on their role, they can lead your fleets as Admirals, govern your colonies Governors or sabotage your enemies as Operatives. For this they have a range of skills that goes from increasing the evasion of all your ships, to making it possible to incite revolts on enemy colonies. It is perhaps as Operatives though that they shine the most, as they can wreak havoc deep behind enemy lines that way.
Many 4X strategies suffer from excessive micromanagement at the end of the game. Are you planning to deal with this problem in some way?
Besides trying to keep the scale of the game manageable from the get go, we are introducing some simple yet effective automation mechanics, to keep the micro at bay on large and/or in late games. This include an automated project picker on idle colonies and a labour focus button, that optimizes its distribution with one click. We are also looking to receive beta feedback on this and adjust as necessary.
In the description, you mentioned “semi-randomized” technology grid. Can you tell more about it?
Basically you have 11 research fields in the game, out of those 9 are the main ones, which have 5 randomized levels; plus 2 non randomized ones. Within each randomized level, there are up to 5 techs in the game, but only 3 are shown at random by game start to the player; who must in the end choose only one to research. This exclusive choice means that to complete the tree, one must trade with other players, in the hope they picked a different tech. There is also a special research field which hosts techs, that show up as possible answers to galactic events; these of course are randomized as well.
How will ground and space combats be realized? What is the difference between them?
Space combat is realized in a full real time strategy kind of way, with the player giving orders to the ships, including heading, attack orders and special abilities in the field; from a top down perspective.
In contrast ground combat is fought on a defined hexagonal grid, representing the terrain of the planet in question, with an initiative based combat system; in which each unit has a value that determines how often it can move or attack. Planetary bombardment is also a possibility, but it has diplomatic consequences to consider.
Will it be possible to succeed by the only peaceful or diplomatic way?
Yes, there are two victory conditions which do not necessarily require you to wage war to win. These are called Diplomatic Alliance and Evolutionary Ascension in game. The first one requires the player to obtain the favour and ally pretty much all factions on the galaxy. The later in turn requires you to research and build the Ascension Gate, a very late game and expensive installation capable of elevating your people to the next stage of their evolution as energy beings. There is also a Score based victory condition called Score Supremacy, that do not requires warfare but it is likely to need it.
Will Astra Exodus have something like trading? How will it work?
There are several diplomatic actions available to the player, out of these some are forms of trade. You can for example trade/gift/demand starcharts (map info), techs, credits and starsystems with other players. You basically just select what you want and the AI will tell you what it wants in exchange.
What resources will Astra Exodus have? How each of them will be used?
There are 6 main resources in the game: Food, Metals, Organics, Rares, Credits and Freighters.
- Food is used to feed your colonists.
- Metals, Organics and Rares are used in construction. Depending on what you want to build, how many out of these the project will require. For example Beam Weapons require Rares, while Missile Weapons require Organics.
- Credits are used to pay upkeep of Colonies, Fleets, etc and to rush the construction of build projects.
- Finally your freighters are required for moving resources and troops across your empire.
There are a lot of old and new 4X space games on the market. In your opinion, what features of Astra exodus can highlight your game among other games?
Basically there are 3 main features that I think make AE stand out. First the choice driven single player campaign, which lets you choose your story and has tons of replay value. Second the deep ship design and resulting real time space tactical battles, which have directional damage and several activated abilities, while including a time control; so as to make battles manageable even with tons of ships. Third the huge semi randomized research tree, with event based and specialization techs, should also be mentioned. Finally even if it’s relatively common today, it’s yet not that often that a 4X game launches with full mod support, including Steamworks.