Interview: Xin Zhao tells us what we can expect from Pixel Starships 2, the sequel to the popular MMO

Interview: Xin Zhao tells us what we can expect from Pixel Starships 2, the sequel to the popular MMO

Earlier this week, we covered the news that SavySoda's Pixel Starships 2 Kickstarter campaign decimated its funding goal within 24 hours. Now, the team hopes to raise additional cash so they can implement their stretch goal ideas, which include a tournament and ground battle system.

We recently had a chance to speak to Xin Zhao, founder and studio director at SavySoda about all things Starship Pixels 2, including why now felt like the right time for a sequel, what that means for the original, and more.

Can you introduce yourself and your role on Pixel Starships 2 to our readers, please?

I’m Xin Zhao, founder and studio director at SavySoda. I’m the producer for the Pixel Starships series of games.

For those unfamiliar, can you give us the elevator pitch for Pixel Starships 2?

Pixel Starships 2 is the ultimate space adventure game for those who love building, strategy, community, and exploration.

You'll take on the role of a Starship Captain and command a crew of unique characters with their own skills and personalities. Your mission? To explore the galaxy, build your ship, and battle other players in real-time PvP combat.

Pixel Starships 2 is cross-platform. You can play it anytime, anywhere.

Congratulations on reaching your Kickstarter goal so quickly. Now that you've soared past the target, what does any extra money raised mean for development?

Our goal with Pixel Starships 2 is to build a next-generation version of Pixel Starships that will be enjoyable to play for many years to come. We have a huge number of features we want to add to the game that are beyond the base fundraising goal. Any extra funds raised will help our team with adding more of these exciting features before our public release!

At what point did you decide that Pixel Starships needed a sequel rather than updating the original?

Pixel Starships is an amazing game. We love working on it and also playing it. We have been frequently evolving the game and adding new features for the past 8 years and will continue to do so well into the future. However, there are some changes which are not possible as evolutionary upgrades, such as the graphics system, foundational ship layout controls, live networking, and stat mechanics. We plan to bring these changes in PSS2 but will be running the classic PSS1 as an ongoing classic world.

You've said that Pixel Starships 2 will offer a more in-depth strategy. Can you tell us what that looks like in practice?

There are so many changes in PSS2 relating to gameplay, but the few I can mention include:

  • The Character stat and battle mechanics now follow a D&D style design and levelling system.
  • Ship layouts can now be customised dynamically and switched at will. Allowing testing and reacting to different strategies.
  • We are testing a new Live PVP system that will allow an online multi-ship battle setup.
  • The ammo building has been overhauled, making it much easier to manage ammo strategies and builds.
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Pixel Starships 2 will have different graphics from the original. Can you tell us about its new look?

The direction of Pixel Starships 2 is, again, led by Art Director Yusi, who worked on the original game. The ships are now in beautiful 3D while we retained the classic retro look of the pixel crew!

Overall, the PVP battles, replays, and streams are much more enjoyable to watch.

The stretch goals mention a new mission system, ground battle system and a tournament system. Could you tell us about those and how they will work?

The stretch goals are a work in progress and subject to change, but here are the latest updates:

We are developing a new tournament system that will reduce grind and focus on strategic and tactical setups. Players love PSS primarily for the deep level of tactics in the game, and we want to ensure this is further promoted in the tournament system. At the same time, parts of the PSS1 tournament system became overly complicated to understand, and we aim to make a simple rule set for PSS2 that achieves the above objectives.

We are designing a new ground battle system that’ll take elements from games such as Darkest Dungeon and Final Fantasy, which are loved by our team.

Likewise, what can we expect in terms of new ways to interact with other captains?

In PSS2 we’re doubling down on social features. There are lots more opportunities to interact with other players and fleets in every corner of the game. The introduction of space stations is just one of these new elements. But expect many more social interaction features in PSS2.

Obviously, it's a long way off at the moment, but do you have any grand plans for the game once it finally launches?

Oh, we hope so. We’ll have some time to decide on our big launch plan, but for now, we’re focused on building a great alpha release and shipping it to our backers soon.

Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen brings both a love of games and a very formal-sounding journalism qualification to the Pocket Gamer team.