Dave Jones Discusses APB

By John Walker on February 22nd, 2008 at 4:10 pm.

When you find out Dave Jones is making a game, there are three steps one must take:

1) Sit up.

2) Read everything.

3) Want.

Yo homes.

This is the guy who has brought us Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown. You know, that’s all. And now he’s turning his studio, Realtime Worlds, to the MMO. APB. And why should you be interested?

This is why:

Power Point will save us all

Crucially, Jones explained in his GDC speech, that he’s interested in moving away from two themes of the MMO. The association with a fantasy setting, and that first M, prefering to call his game a MOG (the term I always hoped would catch on rather than MMO), a Multiplayer Online Game. It’s got cars in it! In fact, it has a real GTA/Crackdown vibe. Well, have a look for yourself.

and

He assures the crowds that APB will be, “replacing geek with chic.” The mantra represents an attempt to make the MOG (it’ll catch on) something as accessible as the GTA series, or Crackdown, appealing to a wider audience by escaping from the in-crowd terms and approach so many online games have adopted. (Clearly it hasn’t exactly hurt WoW’s sales, but it has very much limited its appeal to large numbers of gamers). A real-world setting featuring recognisable tools and weapons.

apb concept art 1

The character creator is getting a lot of attention. Jones showed this off by creating a recognisable gang consisting of Peter Molyneux, Richard Garriott, Warren Spector, and Shigeru Miyamoto, stood in front of their gang’s “GEEK SQUAD” emblazened car. It really is quite remarkable. Also much plugged is the deal with Last.FM to let players hear tunes in-car.

You can pick a side, either gangster or enforcement, which Jones stresses doesn’t equate to evil vs good. Then once you’ve started, things are immediately very different. Gone, for instance, is levelling. This is a brave move, and one that other MOGs have touted early in development, and then quietly doubled back on (Warhammer, I’m looking at you). Instead players are hoped to be motivated to progress by their character’s appearance – their clothing, and adornments. A risky move. Personalisation replacing improved stats obviously caters for the vast paper-doll crowd, but is it enough of a reason to feel driven to make progress?

apb concept art 2

The mission design holds a lot of exciting promise. Say your gang of gangsters is required to steal a van and bring it back to base. The game’s “dynamic matchmaking” will then issue forth a team of player enforcers to thwart this crime, the opposing sides battling for success in the quest. And in a fascinating move, these won’t always be balanced. In the videos above, you can see Jones demonstrating a scenario where four new players think they have a strong chance of success, taking on a single opposing character, unaware that his experience has equipped him with a rocket launcher, and thus a rather powerful hand to play.

Whereas so many MOG developers (see how casually I use the phrase now?) have bandied around ideas about freedom for players, and escaping the grind, they usually capitulate in fear at not being enough like WoW. It looks like Jones will stick to the pledge, creating an online world that’s actually is, thank the shiny stars above, different from the rest. He’s the man to get it right.

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68 Comments »

  1. Nick says:

    Had me up untill MMO. I’m bloody sick of MMOs.

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    No grind, no stats, no gradual improvments.

    KG

  3. SwiftRanger says:

    If you’re calling it a MOG, then why ask a monthly fee? Or does APB work with another model?

  4. Chris Evans says:

    What Kieron just said I what I would love to see in a MOG. Anything from the guy behind Lemmings also needs to be looked at with great interest

  5. Alex says:

    So the only real difference with what is normally seen as a multiplayer game (almost all of which are online, so why make up a new term for it) is that it’s in a persistent world?

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    Persistent shared world.

    KG

  7. Phil says:

    I often think GTA works and its clones tend out to thanks to the amount of interesting stuff to do and rightness of the vechicle handling – any word on mission variety or is it just to be kill xyz with a pimped out golden Uzi?

  8. Turin Turambar says:

    I am excited except for the character’s levelling mechanic, appareance instead of stats. I couldn’t care less about how my characters looks like!

    I suppose i am not enough superficial. :(

  9. Rich Powers says:

    “Personalisation replacing improved stats obviously caters for the vast paper-doll crowd, but is it enough of a reason to feel driven to make progress?”

    Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’d be happy if online games never had any metric of progress again, be it unlockable weapons, awards, stats, etc. But maybe I’m just crusty and old like that. I like to log on, blow stuff up, have fun, and move on.

    Just make your online game FUN and people will come. This insistency on the level treadmill might encourage certain players to invest ungodly amounts of time in your product, but for this gamer at least, it sure makes it boring.

  10. Jim Rossignol says:

    I think the Planetside model had a lot of potential, making the levelling about getting access to greater flexibility, rather than to greater and greater power.

  11. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    @Phil: Well, in the trailers they already show a van heist and a ram-raid which is thankfully already a step up from Crackdown’s ‘go here, kill this man’ missions. Although I imagine it’ll lose Crackdown’s key draws of leaping over builings in a single bound and roundhouse kicking people to death.

    However if there’s no monthly fee, colour me interested.

  12. Ian Dorsch says:

    The game looks dead sexy, but it’s going to need to be the sexiest thing EVAR for me to pony up a monthly fee.

  13. terry says:

    It will be interesting to see how this turns out. The Multitheft Auto mod while being fun as a sandbox toy always seemed glitchy and the playerbase asshole-filled at best – I’d be intrigued to see how it would work with a bit more structure to it.

  14. Lu-Tze says:

    Am I mistaken in seeing a bit of a contradiction there? The guy who has been playing for 6 months has a tank of an SUV, automatic weapons and a rocket launcher… the new players have some small car and are packing 9mms… I don’t pretend to know how the model will work, but it suggests more than a simple “appearance” levelling replacement.

    Why don’t the new guys have rocket launchers? If they can’t afford them, then they are relying on an EVE esque economy to give the veteran players that increase in power and advantage. If they don’t have the “skill” to use them, then there is still some underlying levelling system in place.

  15. Nick says:

    “No grind, no stats, no gradual improvments.”

    Yeah, but lots of other people to ruin my enjoyment of it!

    =)

  16. Chuper says:

    I think this could be the bomb. I would love to do missions and get better gear and not worry about skills or experience. I would love get a nice car as a trophy instead of some glowing sword. I think it could be the best thing ever if you would be able to make gangs with your friends and go out the “own” the city. Skills and experience points are not needed – but i think in this case that “items” (cars, clothes, guns, ect.) will be the same as levels.

    I am totally hyped about this, never gone from not knowing a game is in developement to wanting this much is such sort time, ever, before.

    /Chuper

  17. Jim Rossignol says:

    I should probably mention that everyone who saw this GDC presentation came away gbbering with glee. It’s really promising.

  18. Kieron Gillen says:

    Lu-Tze: Point. All questions that have to be answered in time – it may just be player experience though too, in terms of the veteran player having the knowledge of this stuff to get it or whatever, as in how to get hold of a launcher.

    (Or a GTA system of losing weapons when you “die”.)

    Fuck knows, basically, but I’m interested in finding out.

    KG

  19. Andrew Farrell says:

    I like to log on, blow stuff up, have fun, and move on.

    It’s the last bit that MMO developers have a problem with…

  20. Seniath says:

    Well, my interest is certainly piqued.

  21. Chemix says:

    what the bloody ever loving hell, does “A P B” stand for?

  22. Kieron Gillen says:

    All Points Bulletin. What a police throw out when there’s a crime in progress.

    Also name of old proto-GTA Coin-op.

    KG

  23. Chris Evans says:

    All Points Bulletin? Fits in with the cops aspect of it

  24. RobotLiberationArmy says:

    I are interested.

  25. Justin Sherrill says:

    A minus: it may not be able to show the same humor as GTA: Vice City. That was part of what made it fun, and part of why I didn’t like San Andreas as much – took itself too seriously.

    A plus: when you pull off some amazing jump or slip through traffic just right, you can actually say “Hey, did you see what I just did?” to someone.

    Another plus: Why don’t they just call it “You get to be be Shaft” instead of “APB”?

  26. Surgeon says:

    I’ve been keeping tabs on APB for ages now, so I’m glad to see there are finally some concrete details starting to get released for it.
    And even more glad that it looks like it is going to be pretty special.

    @ Jim : Yeah, the Cert Points model in Planetside is definitely the best implentation of levels I’ve seen or heard of in an MMO, sorry, MOG, so far.
    It always kept you striving for the next Battle Rank.
    Also it ensured that just because you had BR 20 and a plethora of equipment choices, if you were utter rubbish you could still get chinned by some BR6 noob.
    And as far as appearance levelling goes, I wanted for nothing more than massive shin pads, a backpack, a headset and some shades.

  27. Michael says:

    I think there is a reason why people like fantasy settings. I don’t see myself wanting to play this game. I despise gangsters and am not a fan of the police. (Many of the reasons are the same.) Sure GTA sold well, but I have a feeling this will be another one of those MMOs* that bite at the base of the WoW colossus.

    *Yes MMOs. Sorry, but that MOG business is silly. Replacing an established term is not going to change anything.

  28. Dracko says:

    Personalisation replacing improved stats obviously caters for the vast paper-doll crowd, but is it enough of a reason to feel driven to make progress?

    No, but if it’s a consistently good game, then I’ll play it. Stat grinding is completely artificial.

    I’d prefer fantasy settings if they were actually interesting ones.

  29. Leeks! says:

    I felt like STALKER hit a nice balance between stats and, uh, whatever the opposite of stats would be called. Sure, you could improve your resistances with equippable jobbies, but they always had a second edge–increased endurance, but you bleed more, etc. Because equipment was the only way to statistically improve your character, the rest of your development came simply from your increasing familiarity with the game and its systems. So, even after playing for six hours and resetting, I didn’t feel like I lost much, because I could still mess up a battalion of soldiers with a pistol and a sawed off as long as I chose the battle venue carefully.

    And what’s wrong with rewarding player skill/intelligence rather than number of hours logged? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that most MOGs (that is much nicer to say) tend to be designed such that the way you play the game is very much locked into a specific set of three or four patterns. This, of course, changes when you make a game of manipulating player markets, which, of course, is why I love EVE.

    God’s teeth, I’m rambling. Sorry. The essential point I’m belaboring is that I much prefer games that reward smart players rather than those with an abundance of time. So I have no problem at all with an RPGish thing that incorporates some FPS conventions. I’ll buy this game if only to support this kind of design ethos.

  30. Kim says:

    Oh Leeks, I haven’t seen anyone use the phrase ‘God’s’ Teeth! but myself… yay. *God’s Teeth’- Five*

    Anyhoo – Straying away from the generic progression mechanic in MOG’gles is a very nice move. Even though I’m still quite fond of FFXI online, I defiantly agree that having to grind for in-game cash and for levels is an extremely dated element within RPG’s and online games.
    I suspect (I think someone else mentioned it) that the missions will just improve the players in-game bank account, prestige and personal experience / knowledge – he hasn’t really gotten rid of progression entirely. Not that it’s a bad thing – since it’s a different, more rewarding type of progression.

    I started fiddling about with an online toy called ‘The Endless Forest’ No generic progression in that, basically walk around as a Princess Mononoke Creepy Deer bloke, shouting at each other and dancing in a silly manner…. at least that I’ve been doing… Very nice concept behind it – No in-game chat, all you can do to communicate is by using your body language/gestures (and by screaming at each other).

  31. Lunaran says:

    “Counterstrike: the most polished mechanic ever”

    This is where I stopped reading and started skimming.

  32. Thrawny says:

    WANT!

  33. Stromko says:

    For people who don’t want any progression whatsoever there’s still Battlefield .. err, wait, they’re heavily into unlockables now … Well, there’s still every other multiplayer FPS on the market. There’ll always be a place for online games where you can just jump into the action on an equal footing, hopefully there’ll always be developers and publishers that realize that.

    And for people who don’t want others spoiling their fun ( I mean, wtf), there’s still GTA 5 and however many other sequels come out. Sorta looking forward to that myself actually. No monthly fee in GTA either, for those who care.

    Personally I have no reason to hate APB for what it is and I’m tentatively looking forward to it. If I recall their publisher is the same that’s promising Huxley so its exceptional polish doesn’t mean = releasing soon or ever. I did find it funny that they’re getting rid of stat progression and then the second to last paragraph has that quip about 4 players vs 1 with the rocket launcher.

    That one vet player should’ve had an advantage due to skill, requiring either depth or breadth in the combat mechanic. If a rocket launcher alone is going to give one player the tools to spank 4 others, then that’s just horrible balance. I should hope they know better and that was just a ham-handed example, otherwise you’re going to see 4 players with rocket launchers vs 1 vet who also.. has a rocket launcher because it kicks so much more ass than 9mm’s.

    As far as online FPSes with a heavy customization mechanic go, I think Gunz: The Duel tried this and failed horribly, in my eyes, already. For any given level you only had a choice between one or two pairs of pants, or one or two types of each gun, or else you had a severe disadvantage. Hah, sorry, but your level 10 heavy revolver is going to need about twenty or thirty shots to get through that guy’s level 30 hawaiian shirt! Oh, and his high-level Uzi just flat-lined you with half a clip to spare, I guess you should’ve got out of that level 10 tank-top too, you would’ve been fine with the level 40 sequin dress and ‘screw me’ pumps. Yes, I know your AV is a man, what did you think fashion would win out over effectiveness?!

    The way to succeed in Gunz was to use the cheesiest tactics possible so you could get lots of easy kills and earn decent equipment. That was the only way not to suck.

    The sad thing is the highly acrobatic combat in Gunz could’ve very well lent itself to very talented or experienced players having a fair advantage over newer folks, thus giving those newer folks something to truly strive for, not grind for. It was enough that if you were up against complete losers you could make a solid showing, but the intense grind meant that a player five levels above you would be /just/ competent enough they could always shut you out with their twice as awesome equipment.

    Personally I think rewarding players with visual progression could be good, that should be enough to reward most, and personally if they have a very robust character editor I’m definitely down to give it a try. So long as they don’t go overboard with unlockables and force you to play a boring generic goon to begin with. Beyond that progress mechanic, I think a means to progress your power within the world, like controlling more territory or whatever, completes the picture.

    too long;didn’t read version = I really hope they place the focus on progress that doesn’t give you an inherent advantage versus other players. Otherwise, they’re offering nothing new or worthwhile.

  34. Stromko says:

    Okay, maybe I should’ve actually watched the videos before I commented the first time. Rather blown away by the graphics fidelity (didn’t expect them to go for realism, and do it well), and very very impressed seeing that character customization system firsthand.

    At this point I don’t even care if they balance it well, I’d still give it a shot. It does give me the sense that it’s still a long way out from release though, in this preview-hungry age games tend not to come out until the graphics and oveall presentation are quite ‘dated’.

  35. The Fanciest Of Pants says:

    This looks like a lot of fun, but the prospective community that will form around it is just a tad worrying… I mean, mmo with no grind in a cops vs gangsters setup + direct comparisons to counterstrike.
    Aren’t CS players the worst form of human life on earth? Still, will definately try it. Gangbanger players talking like morons only ups the realism I suppose.

  36. Ixis says:

    The big problem is, MMORPGs need levels because that’s what appeases the Asian market, which is effectively more than half of the possible MMOG pool (unless this game manages to bring in a large exodus of non-online gamers, y’know, like what WoW did even though it had levels and grinding.) We’ve all seen asian MORPGs, all the characters look the same and the level cap is high and hard to achieve. And when players achieve it the dev team makes the level cap higher, add rebirth types, new classes and all kinds of time=power devices. Running in the opposite direction is admirable, but I hope the developers are planning to sell this exclusively in the west.

    Levels are what make people feel like they’ve accomplished something, and by changing it to outfits you run into either the Gunz conundrum as stated above, or players game for a bit, get the outfit they like and stop. Which would be fine if the game doesn’t have to have a monthly fee to keep the servers up. If it does, it’ll will probably die a slow but agonizing death, similar to a hypochondriac with rabies.

    If it doesn’t have a monthly fee then I hope it succeeds. However then I’d be afraid of the rampant retardation that floods almost all free online games. Sure, it’s cool if you’ve got skill with driving or shooting, but most of these yahoos will do more damage to their own fellow players by driving into a propane filled barn than posses any actual skill. It’s bad enough the majority of MOG players suck-donkey-balls, and this game makes me paranoid that the number of team mate caused injuries will only get higher.

    And why make it in a contemporary setting? The reason why fantasy online games are popular is because the playerbase is buffeted by a creamy roleplayer center. Most MMORPG players engage in these games to escape from their lives.

    I guess in summation I’d like to state the following contradictions:

    1.) Saying the game has no levels, when the levels have just been replaced with bigger and better weapons.
    2.) Placing the game in a contemporary setting to try and stand out from fantasy MMORPGs, when instead it feels like a quick and easy way to binge off GTA’s popularity and style.
    3.) Without an online fee this game will probably seal the deal for most. However the number of idiot players (the kind who whine, complain, and yell expletives while having no skill whatsoever) will be high.

    All things considered I hope this is released on consoles and the PC, as my POS won’t be able to run it.

  37. Stromko says:

    /quote/ 1.) Saying the game has no levels, when the levels have just been replaced with bigger and better weapons. /endquote/

    I hope they go with more of a flat and broad progression mechanic there. You might be able to specialize but there’d always be tradeoffs. Hopefully there won’t be a single most important situation where one class of weapon totally dominates.

    I felt Planetside failed there as the objective every time was, 1) get to objective, 2) kill everything in close-quarters combat, and 3) hack X. Therefore, shotgun beats assault rifle, even-more-devastating anti-personnel cannon beats shotgun, MAX Suit beats everything but can’t heal itself and can’t hack the objective. My point is that a fight was determined not by what you did in the fight but what you /brought/ to the fight.

    However, if APB can get the balance just about the same, while promoting small-scale teamwork and novel tactics rather than Planetside’s zerging and attrition warfare, that’d be good enough for me.

    re – 2) How are you supposed to be hijacking vehicles and having running gun battles in a fantasy setting? Unless it’s some kind of massively multiplayer Mount & Blade. That would be cool. I don’t think APB’s modern setting takes anything away, frankly I’m sick of conventional fantasy. My favorite part of World of Warcraft was that dwarves had guns. Maybe I’m just weird.

    re – 3) No monthly fee might attract more casual players who might be less dedicated, though the more important question in my mind is how the gameplay meshes with community. You might be herded into interacting with idiots you don’t like because soloing is super hard, or maybe there won’t be much reason to team up and you’ll have trouble finding a group when you want. It’s a delicate balance.

    (edit) I think you may need to make up your mind Ixis. You make a pretty good argument that a game without a monthly fee is prone to having a bad community (more casual, less dedicated playerbase), while saying you only hope APB succeeds if it doesn’t have a monthly fee? So what are they supposed to do, go monthly and have better community or no monthly fee like you want but have a worse community?

    Personally I’m for monthly fees. I don’t mind it that much so long as subscribing and cancelling is simple, and since I usually get completely sick of an MMO within 1 to 3 weeks I rarely have to go past the first, free month that comes with the box. So it’s no skin off my nose, plus there’s often a big pricebreak on per-month games a few months after release in order to snare more subscribers, thus letting me have my fill of a game for way less money.

    Conversely a game like Guildwars with a full-price, stand-alone “expansion” every once and awhile is a terrible, terrible deal for someone like me. (I hate overpriced stand-alone expansions as a rule. Bleh! You have to buy the original anyway to get all the original content so why is that a good deal? It’s the hugest crock of sh*t ever — UNLESS you can stave off boredom and continue playing for the entire time inbetween the expansions)

  38. Josh says:

    No doubt I’ll be playing this, simply because all my friends have Xboxes, made me get an Xbox, and will want to make a squad/gang on this. Personally I think it looks utter rubbish.

    >Aren’t CS players the worst form of human life on earth?

    Then WoW came along.

  39. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Well, I never did like online games where you never really earn anything other than kudos–it’s why I played CoD4 a bit more than Team Fortress 2, despite how silly that sounds. And now that I have a Rank 55, I don’t play CoD4 as much as I used to, either.

    And making a persistent world Counterstrike sounds absolutely *horrid.* If only because it says the word “Counterstrike” in the sentence. “Polished,” my arse.

    Finally, forgive me for saying this, but I find the whole “gangsta” aesthetic amazingly dull and uninspired. Yes, this coming from a man who makes big-eyed doodles of overly-stylized humanoid-things dripping with a distinctly Eastern sort of insincere cuteness. But being bombarded with that rap crap in my youth by fellow students ages 8-18 through my entire adolescence… kind of spoils whatever appeal it may have had. That, and it feels like a particularly rank kind of poseurism. Just can’t shake the feeling that it’s appeal lies solidly in the Lemming-sheep phenomenon, since it’s very rare that any actual *music* emerges from the genre. Maybe that’s just because I’m an outsider to the whole thing, but I can’t help but rebel against the oppressive Gangsta & Hiphop cultural regime. And metal bugs me, too. Especially the really, really crappy “even soulless manufactured pop is better than this” metal people like to make game videos out of. Ones where kids show off some modicum of skill in some FPS here or there. Or that godawful Crysis barrels-o’-fun video the RPS-bot linked to, which would’ve been better with O Fortuna playing in the background instead, because it’d feel more movie-trailery. But I’ve digressed off the cliff and need to climb back up to topic. So here goes…

    As a gamer, this sort of news should make me squeal with glee, I suppose. I hope it does well enough to make more developers slide outside of WoW’s deeply-imprinted footsteps and actually try something else for a change. And with its design aesthetic, I’m sure the GTA crowd will eat it up.

    But I can’t for the love of me actually summon up any will to actually care about the MMO, itself. Partly because of the choice of world design (more glorified thug poop) and the rose-colored lens the devs seem to view Counterstrike with. And partly because the world isn’t very chic, it’s much more geek than people want to give it credit for. Truly “realistic” games should revel in the oddness.

    I mean, seriously. Platypus. That’s the sort of chic the real world throws at us.

    However, if the MMO allows players to design characters dressed up as platypuses (platypi? platypleeses?), then all complaints will hereafter be ignored and rerouted to the Mammalduck’s beaverbutt. Because, really, Marsupialstrike would be Glorious.

  40. Justin Sherrill says:

    I am now listening to the Shaft theme (thanks Kieron) and envisoning the ability to have a character with muttonchops, a car about 90 miles long, and a .357. Maybe named… Taft? Daaamn right!

    Seriously, though: mid-70′s New York City would be a perfect setting for this.

  41. Kieron Gillen says:

    Question for the anti-CS people: What actually is your problem with Counter-strike?

    Is it just that you don’t like the sort of people who play it online (i.e. In your opinion, it’s too popular, basically) or is there something actually about the actual game that’s got your back up?

    KG

  42. The_B says:

    For myself personally, it’s almost certainly the former – but not that too many people play it as such. I suppose I burned myself out on it too much when it first came out, and I hardly can bring myself to play it these days either because I find it way too mechanical or some people who play it just way too good, and preventing the mediocre players such as myself from ever really enjoying themselves.

    I can see why it’s a popular game as such, but I think any soul it had has worn off for me.

  43. Kieron Gillen says:

    That’s the thing – if you get on a LAN with friends, it’s still the game it ever was, which is why I think the “CS is shit” is a somewhat unfair position… unless you think CS is shit. In which case, I’m interested in why.

    Because I can’t think of a reasonable argument.

    Regarding the Thug Stuff… well, I’d also suggest people go over and have a look at the variety of concept art.

    KG

  44. The_B says:

    I’d probably say that’s a fair point in regards to the friends bit – I haven’t got that many friends that play it these days anyway, so that’s probably the biggest factor for me.

    Again though, I’m not sure if the whole ‘everybodys almost exactly the same’ thing doesn’t hold my interest for very long. I find myself just to do well picking the same weapons and setup, and going through a pretty much predetermined collection of motions to do well, whereas on games like TF2 I can find myself varying my tactics a lot easier, trying new things and new approaches, and then seeing them work really well and having fun with them. On CS, I can’t really find myself doing that anymore – whether it’s a lack of novelty, or just that most people take it too seriously – I don’t know.

    That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it when it first came out – I did, and I was amongst the first people to play the Source version from the beta – I don’t think time has been too kind to the game really. I admire what Valve have tried to do with the systems they’ve implimented, but I think it was slightly too late for me. I’m not ruling out ever going back to it, but every time I think about playing it, I can think of far too many other games I’d rather be playing.

    In a similar vein, I don’t really enjoy games like Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and the like, so maybe I’m just bored of ‘serious’ or ‘clinical’ games – however, I do love Battlefield and Call of Duty, so I’m not really sure what the fun part of my brain is rebelling against…

    (I must say though, I am looking forward to APB – I just don’t like Counter Strike that much anymore)

  45. Ixis says:

    @Stromko,

    On point 2, you missed what I was really getting at (though, I wasn’t all to clear.) Basically, I think APB could be in a contemporary setting without it being a GTA clone (though, it is made by the guy who created GTA.) Essentially, if the only reason APB is in a contemporary is to separate it from other MMORPGs (which I applaud) then it doesn’t have to be a GTA clone, which will only cause more headache and “games are bad, mmkay?” statements from the media.

    It could just as well take place in the stone-age, victorian england, during the civil war, the height of the persian empire, a gaslamp steampunk universe, a wizard of oz/alive in wonderland style fantasy setting (remember, fantasy=/=swords and sorcery as sci-fi =/= aliens and hyper drives.) Or, if it’s contemporary why is it a contemporary GTA urban sprawl setting? What if it was like a southern Dukes of Hazzard kind of setting? There’s plenty of other useable settings, and making it in the setting that it is (while awesome) feels more like “we wanted to make GTA online” than “we sat down and decided not to make a fantasy game.”

    As for your main point, I guess I was trying to say that for APB they’re in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. I think, best case scenario I hope there’s no monthly fee and it’s completely possible to solo. However judging from the video and website that’s basically impossible unless you’re a criminal (and I like the character art for the cops better anyway.) Perhaps the police, with their gameplay centered around teamwork, will be played by civil and dedicated players.

    EDIT: Some other remarks,

    I too hate it when companies blindly add what seems like a hip-hop vibe without actually tapping hip-hop culture. Most people like Jasper think hip-hop = angry gangsta black guy out to steal your baby (not an attack against Jasper, he makes a solid argument and, as stated, isn’t into the culture.) I’m into the culture, the real culture and not the gangsta/thug crap to an extent. And also half-black so I see similar games and the faint silhouettes of ignorant producers behind the scenes wringing their hands and assuming I’d buy it on the look alone (DefJam looks badass, but plays like crap.)

    That said at first I was apprehensive about APB, until I went to the site and saw the art and, as someone who apparently likes anime/eastern stuff as much as you say you do, Jasper… I have to say, there’s a lot more anime going on in APB than thugliciousness.

    I also played the hell out of CS like almost everyone else and just got bored with it. Everyone learned the rules eventually and it became a game based around the same tactics day in-day out. I greatly enjoy TF2, and I’d hope the devs would follow than game over CS.

  46. Gylfi.Fenriz. says:

    If you’re sick of mmos it is because you think all the genre is about a game similar to WoW in the concept and gameplay parts.

    And you’re wrong. possibilities of this genre are infinite. The genre doesn’t all end in annoying quests-grind

  47. Stromko says:

    Well you got them there Ixis, they are essentially promising Grand Theft Auto, but online. That they chose that instead of a steampunk universe or a Dukes of Hazard setting, both of which could potentially offer the same sort of gameplay, is probably a matter of marketing for broader appeal.

    So I’m just glad I’m able to find the hip-hop gangster culture to be inoffensive and not really put me off of the game. The broad appeal of the setting might be what ensures this game gets to market and succeeds long enough for me to get my fill of the gameplay.

    I do however hope that they give you enough freedom in how you can conceptualize your character that you don’t feel forced to dress like a gangs’tard. When it comes to the ‘Heist’ setting, I don’t think fashion has to end with Fubu. I’d quite like to see gangs where everybody wears business suits and mirrored shades. Not everybody wants to show their success with gold chains and baggy pants.

    I also hope they break up the gameplay so that Enforcement isn’t constantly doing chases and Crime isn’t constantly doing snatch-and-grabs. You could turn it around by giving Enforcement a task to say, escort a prisoner or item, and the crooks have to stop them from getting to a hand-off point. That seems so obvious as to be a given though.

    I’ve got to chime in about CS. I enjoyed it in the early days but in the early days of CS:S I got absolutely sick of it and never looked back. This happened on the 10th consecutive round where my entire team of ten or twelve folks was wiped out by one or two ‘elite’ players within /feet/ of our spawn point and there wasn’t a damn thing we could do. The gameplay and map design was too ‘tight’ to allow novel tactics or teamwork to make a difference, when your opponents were able to knock your head off before you could even see them.

    It might be a good game if you’re playing on a LAN with good friends, but I could say the same for most games.

    I’m not too worried if APB is going to crib off its concept or balance a little bit. Hopefully they’ll know better than to give us assault rifles that knock people’s heads off with the first shot, or one-hit-kill sniper rifles. Screw realism, give me ‘authentic’ atmosphere but good gameplay.

  48. Dinger says:

    Um, ‘realism’ is an abused term. It’s not realistic when you start within 50 m of your enemy, and he’s boresighted your head with a sniper rifle.

    I suspect a lot of people get turned off CS when they realize they don’t have the innate twitch to compete, nor the time to invest in making that twitch competitive.
    There’s nothing wrong with the game itself, it’s just that most people suck at it. And seriously, getting shot, over and over again, really ain’t fun.

    But don’t associate such games, noble as they are, with ‘realistic military games.’ The engagement ranges are all wrong, and the combined arms feel – even mixing a LMG with a squad – just isn’t there.

    APB’s theme resonates, since our grandparents played the same game: “cops and robbers”. Just because John Shaft is in it doesn’t mean that all bad guys have to be oreo-munchin’ “hip hop gangstas”. No sense limiting yourself here.

    The best MP experiences come from the world being unexpectedly elastic. Games love to impose narrative reversals on the player (“Oh, no, you thought you could just walk across the room, but an earthquake knocked out a bunch of panels so you have to snake the back and forth, over and over, just to get to the other side, while waves of baddies attack”), but the best memories I have of MP games are when those reversals happen from within the game (Oh crap, I just suffered 60% casualties on all squadrons, can I consolidate in time to salvage something?), where the game is flexible enough for a greatly reduced set of conditions to feel like a victory (“we got shot down, but we managed to get rescued”). In Hollywood terms, a heist story doesn’t end when the protagonist botches the heist.

  49. Muzman says:

    Funnily enough, me and some chums theorised back in the day that CS’s initial popularity was because of its one hit kill mechanics. That even if you went down this time, next time you spray and pray with that mp5 you just might get the guy in the face and that makes it all worth while. It’s sort of a slot machine psychology.
    This was waaaay back in the mists; we were Action Quake/Half Life players who couldn’t work out why essentially the same game cluttered with money and hostges and annoying things like that could be pulling everyone on the planet. Now the scene has matured a bit it probably works somewhat differently (at the time I think AQ had hit that skill plateau already and that was a barrier to entry for people, and it didn’t have that Service Uniform Porn aspect quite so nailed).