Population Zero - We Chat with the Team About Its Upcoming Survival MMO
Enplex Games is deep in production of Population Zero, a forthcoming futuristic survival MMO that is currently planned for release sometime in 2019. We had the opportunity to chat with the team about Population Zero to find out more about its systems, features, and aspirations. See what they had to say.
MMORPG: Please introduce yourself and give us a basic overview of Population Zero.
Enplex Games: Hi! We are Enplex Games, we are based in the very heart of Moscow, Russia and we’ve been making Population Zero since 2016. We plan to release the game late 2019, and it is currently in its pre-Alpha phase, with Alpha soon to follow.
PZ is a Survival MMO game, featuring a multi-biome planet Kepler, where the colonists land and investigate the planet, it’s flora and fauna. They fight for survival and build their colonies. They join guilds, factions, socialize and develop their characters via tech tree and perk system. All of that on servers with hundreds of other colonists in a world built by hand with no procedural generation.
We have a narrative storyline, which will unveil the mysteries of the planet and its inhabitants. Can’t go into specifics here, we are going to reveal our lore (which is huge) at a later time.
MMORPG: How many people are working on the game? What other projects has the team worked on in the past?
Enplex Games: Our team is currently 50 people large so by no means we are an indie dev team, even though the studio itself is new. People on our team worked on games like HoMM5, Hearthstone, World of Tanks, Allods Online, Skyforge and many more.
MMORPG: How did you come up with the idea for the game? Where are you drawing inspiration from?
Enplex Games: The idea came from us playing a huge amount of different survival games, including Rust, Ark, Conan and many more. We love the genre, but we always felt that it was missing something. And we’ve come up with an idea of adding MMO elements we enjoy, to the formula that has proven to be very engaging in the past years. We’re planning to take the best mechanics from the genre, and then blending them with MMO elements. Enjoyable PvE with smart and deadly enemies of an alien world, skill-based PvP with balanced melee/ranged weapons, tech tree, and perks to make your character specialize in specific fields. Building, crafting, gathering, surviving the hazardous planet.
We are drawing our inspirations from geniuses as Garrison, Azimov, Lem.
MMORPG: Is the game fully funded? Are there any plans to turn to crowdsource such as Kickstarter?
Enplex Games: The Russian independent game industry is rather small. You either fight for survival *pun intended* or you join a big corp. to secure funds. This second option usually affects your monetization system and many in-house decisions are dictated by your corporate investor.
We were lucky enough to secure our funds with an independent investor, who believed in our project in its prototype form. We, of course, have to bear part of the funding burden ourselves and to do so we have launched our Founder’s program. It is by no means a necessity to start playing: after all, we have a pre-alpha program anybody can apply to and fill the necessary form in their personal profile on the website.
MMORPG: Given that Population Zero is a multi-faction war setting, will the game be a full-loot PvP title? Will there be PvP-free zones or hubs?
Enplex Games: True, the game will be full-loot. There are a few very important things to note though!
Nobody is to be left alone on the planet unprepared. We have a special beginner’s instance in the works so that every new player can learn the basics of the game before he joins the first biome. Secondly, you don’t lose your character progression even after you die. You save your tech tree and the perks you’re using. Thirdly, we are listening to our community very closely and if they demand a PvP-free zone or PR servers, we’ll make sure to put those into our plans.
We are also developing a system which will, in theory, ensure that veteran players fight among themselves and don’t touch the new players. We plan to divide players by zones, not unlike MMORPG games do. The better the equipment you have, the bigger challenge you can overcome, and thus the further you progress through the biomes.
MMORPG: How intense are the Survival elements of the game? For instance, will players have to go look for food and water?
Enplex Games: Absolutely. The basic survival mechanics are there, but the catch is, this planet doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before, so to understand which berries will make you sick and which ones are really helpful, you’ll have to experiment. The same goes for other resources.
MMORPG: Would you consider Population Zero more of a sandbox or a themepark?
Enplex Games: We consider the game to be more of a themepark. Since every location is created by our level designers by hand, and there are no procedural generations we have lots of POI, which will, in turn, give interesting narrative storyline developments as well as unique locations to investigate.
MMORPG: What is the goal for the server size in terms of the player population?
Enplex Games: The goal is to have at least a few hundred players per server and we are working very hard to squeeze every last drop of technology available to us, to be able to get as many people together as possible. One thing we don’t enjoy is 20/40 player servers. That’s for sure.
MMORPG: What is the player progression system in Population Zero? Do players level up, unlock skills, etc.?
Enplex Games: We don’t have a leveling system you have to grind out. We’ve mentioned perk and tech tree systems before, so let’s talk a little bit more about those. The tech tree will allow you to spend specific resources to learn different technologies. Our lore explains why you start in the stone age even though you are a colonist who has arrived on the planet on a spaceship (there is an easter egg in our announcement trailer as well!). So by going deeper into the tech tree, you will open different kinds of weapons and armors to craft, resources to gather, building tiers to build and so on.
Perks are different. They randomly drop as you play and do different activities. You can get specific perks when you gather stuff, build, craft, fight monsters or other players. The perks will help you specialize in different kinds of things. Some perks give you more health, while others make you faster or give you resistance to negative effects. There are rare, epic and legendary perks, so you’ll have a lot to choose from.
MMORPG: Will crafting play a big part in Population Zero? Besides the usual gear (weapons, armor), what other stuff will players be able to create? Buildings? Vehicles?
Enplex Games: Everything of the above. Building their own home or a large guild colony, making their farms, vehicles and everything else to sustain your life on the alien planet. Many of these features are still in development or even in the planning and concept phase and won’t see the light of day in the nearest future. We hope to finish most of them by the time we release or in our content patches we plan to do regularly.