Posted Thu, Jul 02, 2009 by Ethec
CrimeCraft exploded onto the scene less than four months ago, part of a new wave of “perpetual world shooters,” an up-and-coming niche that includes Huxley and Global Agenda. With a growing beta crowd and a release date set less than two months away, I asked Senior Designer Mike Donatelli how Vogster was able to get CrimeCraft out the door in such short order. “We only have about 10 American developers,” Mike explained, “but we have this huge 200 developer studio in the Ukraine. They’re basically spinning their wheels; we’re basically ready to go.”
The concept of green space didn't occur to Sunset City's planners.
Mike illustrated what a powerhouse he has in his Kiev studio is by describing his newspaper concept. “One of my favorite things is a newspaper. It’s on the dev server, it’s a done deal, but you can’t see it here. Basically, we track a lot more stats than the players can see. We can see what gangs are fighting each other and we’re going to write stories in this newspaper, not necessarily that this player pwned this player in an instance but crazy stories about these gangs.
“ typed up the technical design document [for the newspaper idea] and asked how long it would take. There’s a lag due to the time difference, so I didn’t hear from him until the following day. He emails me back and says, ‘Yea, it’s done.’ I was like, what do you mean it’s done? I just need you to sign off on it. He said, ‘No no no, it’s in the game.’ And that’s why I can say that our schedule of monthly updates is super-impressive, it’s like nothing that’s ever been heard of before. We’re just going to pick up and keep on going.”
But CrimeCraft breaks the mold in more ways than simply shortening the standard three year development cycle. “We’re not a traditional MMO,” Donatelli explained. “I play every night. We get a lot of level 1 MMO guys screaming bloody murder because they don’t understand what we’re trying to do. Don’t get me wrong, there’s story. There’s a bank, an auctionhouse, crafting, instances, so we have some of the trappings of an MMO. But we have just a few narrative, solo missions and PvE instances designed to set a context for the world... a ship with a boss that spawns and you can grind and get good loot off of, for example, but we’re not a PvE game.”
CrimeCraft is set in the fictitious Sunset City just a few years after a major worldwide financial collapse. “We’re not post-apocalyptic, but we’re circling the bowl,” Mike joked. Walled “city states” still trade with one another, and protecting (or attacking) these cities and the trade between them is a big part of the game. But outside the protection of the city, violence reigns among the “super gangs,” spawning faction-based content and CrimeCraft’s core gameplay: 8v8 instances where tactics and skill reign over levels and equipment. Instances come in various types, from team vs. team deathmatch to standard CTF to “robbery” - where teams must steal cash from the opposing team’s safe and carry it back to their safe for deposit. Instances are timed and typically take less than ten minutes to play.
Gangs, drugs, and guns in a game built in a ex-Soviet bloc country and New Jersey. It's almost a sim.
Four crafting progressions are available in CrimeCraft: Guns, Gun Attachments, Boosts, and Clothing. Everything except boosts can be dyed or overlaid (with preset patterns, no plans to upload your tags) seperately and will show up on your character. “If you want a purple scope with a pink polka-dot rifle, have at it,” Exec. Producer Matt McErney joked, but explained that you’d either have to find these dyes and overlays as drops or buy them. Clothing has stats and can take “attachments” too, such as nano-technology, fire resistance, or a ballistic coating that improves armor rating without adding weight that slows you down.
Guns come in nine weapon types; four primary weapons (rocket launchers, grenade launchers, sniper rifle, and light machine guns), and five secondary weapons (assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, submachine guns, and grenades), with six attachments per weapon. The heavier the weapon, the more attachments, the slower you run. Customization is key in CrimeCraft, “We want you to be able to take the game as seriously as you want to take it; if you want to be paramilitary, go get the camo gear and the assault weapons and rocket launchers, but if you want to go out as pirates or ninjas, we’re good with that too,” Matt intoned.