Just recently we had the opportunity to ask Bernd Lehahn, the Managing Director at Egosoft, the developer and publisher behind the X-series of space simulators. Just recently they released X4: Foundations, which is a step forward in both the story as well as technically. The previous installment, X-Rebirth, was a not quite the success that Egosoft had in mind,  instead being fraught with technical issues and other playability problems that weren’t initially accounted for. Despite going on to significantly improve the experience, X4 was fast developed as the next iteration that would build upon problems encountered and bring the series closer to the soul and spirit of the originals, which pushed the boundaries of the traditional combat-focused game to provide something a bit more expansive than what was available at the time.

Even today, X4 promises to do that, expand upon a proven formula that fans and new players should enjoy. Our review is currently underway and will take some time to complete as we give the game a proper play-through to really fully experience it, but until that’s out, enjoy some questions answered by Egosofts own Bernd Lehahn.

X4: Foundations

Do you think Elite: Dangerous, No Mans Sky and Star Citizen and the seeming resurgence of space sims that it has helped fuel has had any impact on the commercial viability of your game, positive, or negative?

I can only imagine a positive impact. We kind of ignored market trends always and just “did our thing” really, but a huge title like Star Citizen in particular with all the attention that it brings to the genre can only be good.

Are you looking at alternative funding models to help fund the development of X4: Foundations?

Depends on your definition of alternative funding 😉
Yes we have to get creative: Game development is expensive, and our games are getting bigger and bigger which does make development also more expensive.

But fans do not have to be afraid: We are trying to strike a balance here. We are for example experimenting with PaintMods as small expansions that players can install on their ships. We would hope that at a later point these could also be sold.

This to me sounds like a nice compromise, as nobody looses anything by not having them, but fans can make support us and make their ships prettier 🙂

What improvements have been made to the graphics engine? Is it all new?

It is new with X Rebirth VR Edition and again improved since then. The main difference is that the underlying API was changed over to VULKAN. This is one of the most modern APIs and also allows porting over to Linux, which we definitely plan to do.

Has the inclusion of Vulkan allowed for more complex scenes?

Yes. Vulkan is complex and harder to get right, but once we got it working the performance improvements were great and we can now also do more detailed graphics than ever before.

Do you plan on supporting explicit multi-GPU?

Not decided yet. We have a long list of features that we wish to support in the future.

Do you intend to have planets we can land on?

Not in the near future.

What about expanding the galaxy in the future?

That will definitely happen. We have announced that we will work on two Expansions for X4 and expanding the universe is a must for each of them.

Will there be more diverse interiors in X4?

Our focus in regards to interiors was mostly on those parts that are directly related to the ships. So the landing platforms, docks, repair sections etc. All of these were more of a focus then normal rooms. We wanted to avoid very large indoor locations when there is no specific purpose, and kind of lock stations unless there are special missions.

About how large will the universe be? And do you plan on expanding that through expansions?

Large and yes 😉
Sorry, but I do not like giving numbers for this as they are not able to really convey the size. A sector is not equal to a sector. Even within one game we have VERY largely different sector sizes.

What is the general plan for expansions and add-on co And can be really fly them all?

There are a few exceptions (as always)
One of our alien (enemy) races are mechanical (actually AGI) beings for example. Giving their ships a cockpit would ruin the story behind them.
But most ships can be flown from S (small fighter), over M, L up to XL (huge carriers for example allow you to navigate from the bridge)

What is ship customizability going to look like?

Have a look at our explanation video here:

The menu allows you to replace parts in many modular categories. From externally visible systems like engines, shields, thrusters, weapons to lots of internal upgrades.

With the new fleet management view in the map, what sort of things will we be order to do to our fleets? And does it scale up indefinitely?

First there are orders: Orders are short term. Fly to a point, dock at a station, buy a ware, kill an opponent, etc.

Then there are “Behaviour”. Behaviour are long term (infinite until you end them).The most popular one is Autottrade. Behaviour are also more dependant on the skills of your pilot or captain.

What’s been done to improve the first person experience? And what can we expect to be able to do in first-person in the future?

A lot of missions have a first person element.
But the most important addition is really the seamless transitions. Changing from cockpit seat, to EVA, to a station platform etc. That was a HUGE development effort.

And, most importantly, who is the composer for the soundtrack for this iteration?

Alexei Zakharov. He is working for us since X3.