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The Repopulation First Look: City Builder Meets MMO

Posted Wed, Mar 14, 2012 by Ralphedelominius

We’ve had our eyes on HeroEngine since 2006, when Simutronics’ banner release for the versatile game creation suite was set to be Hero’s Journey, a self-developed title that was never released. Instead, Star Wars: The Old Republic turned out to be the engine’s claim to fame.

Today - thanks in no small part to a startup friendly, royalties-driven licensing model, - HeroEngine can be found in thousands of development projects worldwide that cover almost the entire gamut of online games, from 3D MMORPGs to MOBA games to tactical CCGs.  And then there’s The Repopulation: part city builder, part political manager, part action RPG, and all MMO.

The setup: humanity has fled Earth because something terrible has happened - finding out exactly what happened is part of the mystery players have to solve – and it’s up to players to repopulate the (somewhat hostile) garden planet they’ve crash landed upon. To do so, players will have to build cities that can support the ever-growing demands of a burgeoning population while fending off threats from aliens and other players alike.

The Repopulation - Cities

The Repopulation's world is beautiful, varied, and hostile.

The Repopulation's Nation System and Cities

Core to The Repopulation is the Nation system. Nations are comparable to guilds or alliances in other games, and are comprised of two or more player cities. A ruler of a nation coordinates the military operations of the cities and takes a cut of the tax revenues and resources from the mayors he or she controls.

Both mayors and rulers will have to deal with pressure from their computer-controlled citizenry (i.e. unhappiness), from power struggles between mayors, and from military incursion from other nations, cities, and alien factions. Mayors and rulers can also set up five different levels of alliances with other cities and nations, as well as set up demilitarized trade zones where goods can be bought and sold.

In their role as mayor, player’s primary duties include positioning buildings and defensive structures and setting policies to help their city survive and thrive. Cities can be conquered, but even when players aren’t online, turrets, defensive structures, and your own populations will rise to protect what’s yours.

However, these populations have needs (for defense, basic needs, and luxuries) and provide resources and tax revenue.  As these needs are fulfilled, the city grows.

“There are 20 levels to a city,” lead designer Josh Hall explains, “and as a city grows, the needs of the city grow as well. At level 0, your citizens want food and water and protection, but as the city grows, your citizens will want better food, better water, and luxuries.” Cities have about a dozen attributes that are deterministic, meaning that as you concentrate more on crafting, for example, more crafting attributes will be open to you.

the repopulation city

City building sets The Repopulation apart from other post-apoc MMOs.

Missions and Engagements in The Repopulation

While the Nation system is what Josh refers to as the “sandbox” side of the game. For the “theme park” (where players are experiencing the fun rather than building it), in addition to the usual trappings of an action RPG, The Repopulation has some tricks up its sleeve here as well.

For starters, there are no levels in The Repopulation. Instead, players can work at over 100 skills ranging from combat to communication to crafting. Missions also detect players’ skill sets, meaning you might get a crafting mission to produce rifles if you happen to be good at producing rifles, for example.

Missions will also give you the option to shape the morality of your character. Josh explains: “If you decide to go down the shadier path, maybe making some arms runs, before long you’ll have the ability to run slaves and kill people in the middle of the night.” Josh was quick to add that this works the other way too – if you opt instead to free slaves, you might reveal your own John Carter-type storyline in time.


It doesn't need to have AAA features, pretty graphics, or fluid-perfect animations. That's where developers seem to get it wrong. Those features are fine for themepark MMOs, but us sandbox players expect a bit of a lower quality with things like that because, compared to the other aspects of the game they are not as important.

From what I've seen screenshot-wise, the graphics are looking just fine as they are, and the combat animations were smooth. I honestly can't wait for the alpha to get going, whether I'm in it or not. I see a lot of promise in this game.

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