Nestled on the sixth floor of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle the Repopulation was in its element. They were at the epicenter of the indie game showcase. While it appears that AAA development on MMOs may be starting to slow down, the Repopulation and others like it are busy picking up the slack to drive a new era of innovation.
If PAX is one thing, it is a mad house: developers spend all day pitching their products to passersby. Down on the main floors of the building are the bigger booths that are home to companies like Sony, Square Enix, and Nintendo. These altars of excess have players lining up for hours to play the developers' newest offerings. The players are almost always guaranteed to be playing a future hit. Up on the sixth floor gamers are more like treasure hunters. While not guaranteed a sure thing they are trying to find that gem in the rough. Public Relations types stand in the aisles and pitch the wandering players’ comparisons between their indie and blockbusters then ask them to try their game. “Do you like D&D? Check this out.” “Do you like the Souls series? Try this one.” But if you like MMOs and were at PAX on floor six you would have wanted to try the Repopulation.
In the middle of this organized chaos I caught up with Joshua Halls, lead developer and co-owner of the Repopulation, late Friday afternoon. You could tell by looking at the team they were excited by what they had to show but started to look a little frayed by the effects of going at a frenetic pace for so long. Josh is used to the pace. Even though this MMO is indie it has all the features you would expect from a AAA developer. The only difference is that Josh and his small team have been doing all the leg work you would expect from a team ten times its size. With a patch coming out almost every two weeks it’s impressive the amount of work they complete in each sprint. According to Josh this pace will probably slow down to one patch every 3 to 4 weeks until they hit release. The goal is to get feature complete and to beta by the end of the year. Players can then expect release another 3 to 6 months after that.
The big focus for the next patch due out in the upcoming week or so is the siege system. Currently the system is up and running on the QA, or staging, server. A siege is a lengthy and complex system that is resource heavy. First up is the declaration phase. It’s time to tell people you are going to war. You do this by setting down a siege camp. After the camp is place for the next two hours it is vulnerable to attack and can be destroyed. After that it becomes invulnerable... for a while. Also when a siege camp is placed an energy field pops up around the city. At the beginning of day two starts phase two, the build up. At this point the attacker can start building up their units. Some of which are specifically designed to take out the defending cities shields.
During this second day the attacking team can establishing a persecution phase. This is a two hour window where the two sides can duke it out and reduce the other’s strength by up to 30%. At the end of the persecution phase you go back into a build up phase until the final phase begins, the war phase! At this point the attackers get 4 hours to capture the city, if not the city receives credit for a successful defense. If this all seems kind of complicated that’s because it is. The team over at the Repopulation did a nice job of summarizing what a siege timeline could be like and you are welcome to read it over here. The siege also takes a lot of energy. This is a resource that was added in last patch. You can convert a lot of items that don’t have a great use for crafting into energy to power a siege so this creates a great way that everyone can contribute.
If you have been clamoring for a sandbox MMO that does it right, look no further than the Repopulation. This game has come a long way since we started covering it here at MMORPG. With the level of depth to crafting, meaningful PvP, and the impending implementation of city sieges this game has everything that sandbox MMO players constantly say they want in their game. If that sounds like you then you’ll definitely want to give this one a try when it is released in 2016 (though you can always join early access now on Steam if that’s your jam, just be ready for wipes and bugs and downtime). We'll be watching it keenly as the Repopulation inches closer and closer to final release.