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GDC First Look

CrimeCraft General Articles - By Jon Wood on March 26, 2009

GDC First Look
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At the 2009 Game Developer’s Conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with the guys behind the upcoming shooter / MMO, Crime Craft and to get my first look at the game in progress.

Right now the game, which runs on the Unreal 3 Engine, is in the Friends and Family stages of testing, with a launch scheduled for the third quarter of 2009.

For those of you out there who may not be familiar with the premise, Crime Craft melds many conventions of an MMORPG with the fast-paced and skill based action of a third person shooter. The game itself (or at least the prepared demo area of the game), even in these early stages, looks fantastic. As soon as the developers entered into the common area of the game, I was reminded of the dirty / semi-realistic city look of games like Grand Theft Auto.

These common areas are where players can interact with one another, take part in such MMORPG mainstays as banking, in game mail, auction houses, weapon shops, crafting, player housing (gang hideouts), get missions and the like while the real heart of the shoot-em-up style gameplay takes place in online-shooter style instances pitting teams against one another.

Customization

I was immediately impressed by the level of customization that is available to players when it comes to not only their own personal avatar look, but also the look and feel of the gangs (more commonly known to MMO players as guilds).

The developers told me that they were “concentrating on giving players maximum diversity” in terms of the way that they look. If, for example, you want your character to be the standard shooter style toon dressed in camouflage fatigues, that’s an option that’s available. If you want to be a butt kicking machine wearing short shorts and a tank top, that’s ok too. In short the possibilities, while not endless, are certainly vast. The visual customizations, I was told, aren’t limited to clothing options, but also allow for players to diversify their weapons not only by adding different and interesting attachments, but also by re-skinning the weapons.

Crafting

The crafting system will allow players to craft weapons, clothing, or boosts. It looks at this point like the system is fairly simple and based on recipes that you can get from vendors throughout the common areas. The more levels you have, the better items that you can craft.

I was interested to learn that crafting also plays a part in making found loot more in-line with your character’s personal look. If you, for example, are a character that wears only black, and you find a bright yellow coat that has some great stats, you can always craft the item into something more in line with your character’s tastes. This should avoid people running around in mis-matched gear just because it’s the best statistically (unless you’re going for a patchwork look)

Gangs

At its heart, Crime Craft is a game that is best played (like many MMOs) and most enjoyed if you are a member of a group. Crime Craft appropriately calls these groups gangs and, as I mentioned before, provides a number of visual options to gang members (including gang symbols that can be affixed to almost any article of clothing). Along with the visuals and in-game benefits of being a part of a gang, the developers also plan to launch a Social Networking website that will give each gang in the game their own specific page that includes, among other things, private forums that only gang members can access.

Progression and Gameplay

I was told that Crime Craft is a level-based game, which I thought was interesting given the fact that I was also told that the game didn’t make use of die rolls to determine hits and misses… It’s pure skill. When I asked how the system worked, I was told that while going up in level won’t make you a better shot (so that older players aren’t given a huge advantage over new), the higher the level of your character, the more options will be available to them going into combat and the more overall diversity your character will have.

Currently, I am told, the game is built to support both player vs. player and player vs. environment scenarios.

The Name

The last thing that I had a chance to ask the guys about before my meeting time drew to a close was the choice of Crime Craft as a name. As many of you noticed and pointed out the last time that we covered this game, Crime Craft, at first glance, looks like a direct attempt to sidle in on some of the fame being enjoyed by the current MMO market leader Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. So, on my way out the door, I asked the guys point blank what was up with their name.

I was told that when development was originally started on this game in Ukraine, the name actually made a lot of sense: The game is a crime-based shooter that also makes use of a crafting system. When they started to bring the game into the North American market, the name had already been set.

Having enjoyed what I've seen of this game so far, I am honestly looking forward to seeing more of it as the development cycle progresses.