MMOsite Exclusive Interview with The Repopulation Dev Team at PAX East
ByDate: Mar 08 2015 Views:
If you're looking for a new Sci-fi sandbox MMORPG, The Repopulation must be a good choice. The game launched an Early Access on Steam recently, and we're honored to have a chance to talk with the dev team of this game in PAX East this year. Check out the details of the interview below:
Q: Hello, thank you for taking the time for this interview.First off, would you like to introduce yourself to our MMOsite readers?
A: My name is J.C. Smith and I'm a lead programmer on The Repopulation.
Q: As we know, The Repopulation is a Sci-Fi MMORPGwith sandbox gameplay. Could you give us a brief introduction of this game and some of the core gameplay elements?
The Repopulation is a throwback in some ways to the days of Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. We wanted to recapture some of the things that made those games special, but in a modernized way with our own mechanics and wrinkles. There is a heavy focus on things like socialization, non-combat options, tradeskills, and above all choice. It's a very different game, with a lot of complexity and no preset path.
Q: We can see a lot of sandbox games on the market right now. What makes this game different than the others?
The big thing for us is choice. There are many things that you can do in The Repopulation, and you can do all if you wish, but you never have to do any of them. After the initial tutorial check in everything from that point is really up to you. And we try to cater to a lot of different styles.
At the core of our economy is the trade skill system. We have a very deep crafting system which focuses heavily on interdependence with other players. The majority of items require components that are often created by other professions. While it is possible for players to create things all on their own, it isn't the way the system is designed. It's designed so that players can specialize in specific recipes (which each have their own mastery levels), and act as component creators and suppliers in an interconnected web of crafters and gatherers. Harvesters are always in high demand. The majority of the items in the game can be crafted. And crafters have a high degree of customization on features they can add to things like fittings.
Speaking of fittings, that is another wrinkle that differs from the baseline. The vast majority of equipment in The Repopulation comes with 5 fitting slots. The equipment itself only determines the baseline stats and basic rules such as Heavy Armor, Blunt Weapon, Implant or Rifle. The bulk of your stats come from those five fittings. And there is a wide variety of things you can craft with our fitting system.
We have a very unique mission system where rather than looking around for NPCs with markers over their head (though we have those too) NPCs generate missions specifically for your character and mail them to you as job offers. You can filter the types of jobs you're interested in. Unlike past generated missions in most previous games, ours can be quite complex in some cases. As you play missions become tailored to your skill set, past actions, reputation, and things of that nature. Like everything else in Repop though missions are optional. Many players use them to drive their gameplay, but if you don't like running missions they are not necessary.
The mission system is tied together by our NPC personality system. Our NPCs have personalities, mood, dilemmas, friends and enemies, and professions. Some of those things are static and others can change based on world events, or player actions. Missions typically don't ask for a specific NPC, they instead look for a combination of traits. And since some of those traits can change, you can have an effect on the missions being offered not only to yourself but to other players. NPCs also chatter amongst themselves, name dropping players and other NPCs who have affected them in some way.
Players can not only create homes, but create nation (guild) controlled cities. The 15.2.1 patch (which hits later this month) allows player cities to dig down and add underground layers to their cities, increasing their housing and shop potential. Other housing and city wrinkles include robotic vendors, props, turrets and an ever-growing list of features and customization options.
The game features two rule sets, though only the standard rules are currently available. The primary difference in these servers are the PvP rules. The standard rules feature optional PvP, where you can avoid it entirely if you wish. There is no looting on standard servers. PvP is nation/team based, and you can upgrade or downgrade your status with other nations though factional restrictions do apply. The upcoming hardcore server is more of a Free For All version of PvP with corpse looting. Both modes features sieges.
With over 75 skills, there are plenty of skills to keep your characters busy. Everything from taming, to hacking, survival, thievery, robotic engineering, genetic engineering, entertainment, diplomacy, cosmetic styling, and much more.
Q: As far as I know, it has been years since The Repopulation made its debut. May I ask why it took such a long time?
To be honest, it hasn't taken nearly as long as people seem to think. Everquest: Next for example was announced months before Repop and still has a long way to go. While the game has been in our conceptual mind and prototypes since 2008, it didn't begin full scale production until 2011. It's certainly taken a lot longer than we anticipated it to, but in the realm of MMO development cycles it hasn't been anything out of the ordinary.
So I guess the question to answer would be why has it taken longer than our original estimations? There's just so many moving parts in an MMO, and with a fluctuating budget and team size it's often hard to give an estimate. New things pop up, bugs get introduced, some features don't work as well as they sounded on paper, and adjustments need to be made. This pushes back other things, and even estimates which you felt were conservative wind up getting missed in some cases.