A Quick Look at the Indie Space Colonization MMO
Though it's had a long rocky road in Early Access since 2014, Colonies Online is quietly and efficiently building its way out of early access on steam and into a more stable ongoing live release. We caught up with the game's developers at Iron Bit to learn about the game, it's status, and what's coming next.
MMORPG: Can you give us a quick rundown on what Colonies Online is?
Nick Borschew: Colonies Online is a sandbox-MMO about space colonization. Players are exploring vast planets filled with dangers as well as precious resources. They can construct their own colonies almost anywhere, stand their ground and build prosperity or even become bandits from time to time. Our goal is to create a persistent, living, futuristic world for all Sci-Fi fans. The story of this world will be constantly developed by players themselves, as we will provide them all the necessary tools and possibilities to do so!
MMORPG: In the trailer you show that there is mass PvP. Does the game consist of mass open world PvP? If so are their safe zones? What prevents the game from devolving into a gankfest?
Nick: We have open PvP, but there are some things to take note of. There are huge territories to explore, so when you are out in the wilderness the chances to encounter an unfriendly player is not so high. Player-built colonies have a very high level of protection at this point. The proper base raiding system is not implemented yet, so to be safe just make sure you don't have gaps in outer walls, pay attention that walls get enough energy from the generator and don't leave the doors open. Lastly, places like transport nodes and non-player outposts are safe zones.
MMORPG: It appears that you plan on introducing player looting to the game. How do you plan on handling that? As a player do I have to worry about losing all of my items if I am killed?
Nick: We’re planning to build a flexible system for it. Everything that the character wears and items that are stored a "safe" part of inventory are loot-proof. But the other half of the inventory is the "unsafe" part and will be lootable after character death. It will play out like this: when a character dies, no matter from monsters or in PvP, they drop items from the "unsafe" inventory slots as a crate. The player will respawn and rush to gather their stuff back, but in the meantime everyone else is able to grab it too. Also it's important to note the coma mechanic. If your character's health drops to zero the first time he's not dead but rather unconscious for a short period of time. And only if he loses health for the second time within minutes after the coma - only then he's dead for good and drops the unsafe inventory part.
MMORPG: Are there guilds? How much cooperative gameplay is there with the competition for resources?
Nick: We’re planning to make quite a big system for enclaves (guilds) with ranks, progression, in-game features for trade, that kind of stuff. For some aspects of the game you will need to be part of an enclave, like hoarding really big amounts of resources for a clan war, claiming and protecting planetary sectors, doing "world boss" encounters. Without a nice enclave you won’t be able to do such things, so we definitely recommend teaming up!
MMORPG: Can you tell us a little about the world events?
Nick: We want to make those events to be really meaningful and interesting. They will serve not only as a method to make the environment more diverse, but also as stages in the game storyline as the living world continues to develop. From small events for 1-2 players to global battles in which different factions will be fighting for their own goals. The results of such events will have an effect on the wider game world and narrative.
MMORPG: How many different planets are there in Colonies? Can players travel between the different planets?
Nick: Right now there are 6 planets in the game, but there will be more in the future... We want to allow players to discover new planets by themselves and even name them. It won’t be an easy task, but definitely worth it. Each planet is about 50x100 kilometres in surface area, which is divided by sectors. Players can travel between sectors and planets by using the global transportation system. In the future we will allow players to build their own spaceports to attract visitors to their colonies - to trade and exchange services, or just hang out! Also players will be able to capture sectors for themselves and get a share of all farming/mining/trade activities that take place in that sector.
MMORPG: What kind of structures can players build in the game?
Nick: Players can build quite a lot of constructions right now. Walls with energy shields and power generators are the basic ones. Turrets can be equipped with any weapons you want. Resource mining stations, refineries, various crafting stations, containers and lockers, medical and repair stations, decorations and much more. We’re constantly adding new and meaningful constructions and decorations, we want to give players as much freedom to build their colonies as possible!
MMORPG: What kind of weapons will players be able to craft and how does that process work in the new update?
Nick: Right now there are 3 weapon types in the game - rifles, pulse guns and shotguns. Soon there will also be machine guns and scatter guns. All weapons have their own characteristics that can be affected and improved by using different resources during the crafting process. Level and type of damage that weapon has are defined by Xenodin - an alien substance that players need to gather from some of the biggest monsters in the world. So if you want to make a flaming shotgun - you need to find a flaming monster, hunt it down and gut it :).
MMORPG: What engine are you using to build colonies online and what made you choose that one?
Nick: We use our own engine, because in the early prototyping stage we were thinking about tasks that other engines at the time weren’t capable of doing, for example, giant distances. Plus, our own engine means that we are flexible to change anything at any time much faster.