Robota: Our First Month In Perpetuum

By Jim Rossignol on January 30th, 2012 at 1:09 pm.


Okay, let me say up front that RPS is running a Perpetuum corporation. If you want to try out some sandbox MMO robo-action you should grab the 15-day trial from here and join the chat channel “RPS” in-game. With that over, let’s talk about what’s happened in our first month in this peculiar little MMO, the trials and tribulations of brutal PvP, and our first significant victory.

The first part of my write up is here. It didn’t take long for that to get noticed, and for the large number of newbies that came into the game to capture the interest of some of the local, long-term residents of Perpetuum. It took us a couple of weeks to settle down and get a regular crew (I think we saw about 30 of the 70 people who signed up only once) but now we are making money and running regular ops. It was at this point that the meta-game started in earnest. I’ve now talked to perhaps a dozen different players from the game’s various factions, each with their own stories to tell, each with their own agendas. While the population of this game is low, the sandbox mechanics and territory-control systems mean there are some genuine power-struggles going on. The population is also small enough for almost everyone to know each other. The result of has been a lot of interest in our activities.

We’ve had two different mysterious benefactors help us out with technology and with making the most of the game’s resources. One of them was keen to help us get on our way with the game’s impenetrable industry and production game, while others wanted to see us get into “beta”, the open areas of territory war and free PvP, as soon as possible. A few of the game’s outpost “terminals” – capturable bases – have been left open for anyone to access, and we’ve made good use of that. Everyone we have spoken to has been incredibly welcoming and helpful, with the commanders of enemy gangs even apologising for blasting the hell out of us in larger gangs of ‘bots.


What’s been most interesting, however, is how quickly we’ve become candidates for involvement in the game’s struggles. After recent controvo-dramas and subsequent abandonment of the game by a large Russian contingent, things in Perpetuum are in flux. Several different parties have made their agendas (secretly) known to us, and deciding which one to go with has been interesting. As it turns out, we’ve remained independent, and I suspect that will be true for a while. I’ve always enjoyed this kind of cloak and dagger stuff in games, however, and Perpetuum looks like the perfect canvas for it.

Anyway, all that social and political stuff is nothing without good PvP, and mastering that has taken us some time. While it’s easy to equate Perpetuum with Eve – many of the systems are near-identical – the fact of fighting on a 2D field, where line-of-sight matters to getting a hit, makes for a distinct and challenging experience. Here are some of the things we’ve learned about Perpetuum’s PvP:

  • When a robot dies in PvP territories, it explodes. This led to several comedy insta-deaths for our roaming gangs. One person would die and because everyone else was close by, they’d explode too. This feature really demands that players think about positioning, and also acts as a sort of “anti-blob” mechanism. Large groups, close together, can end up destroying themselves if one of the number goes down.
  • Scanning for enemies is complicated. Rather than having a set visual range for enemies in your “landmarks” window (Eve’s overview) the distance at which enemies are detected depends on your ability to scan and their ability to scan. A small, light robot with good sensors can detect large stuff far away, while remaining unseen itself. Getting my head around this system has been a struggle. I wish the game visualised it better.
  • The speed imbalance between small and large robots is probably not correct. Smaller robots should be slightly faster than they are. As the game stands the skills and equipment of a long-term player do so much to alter the speed of a robot that the lumbering mechs of veterans are as fast, or faster, than the light robots of newbies. To create a newbie-friendly spread, where some one can act as a fast, light scout within a few days or weeks of entering the game, the devs need to increase the speed of light boys by 20-30kph. It would be a big change to the balance of the game, but would allow for much more varied gangs and combat.
  • Getting fights right is brilliant. Perpetuum does offer some spectacular robot battles.

Of course light robots are cheap and disposable, and they can still use cover to avoid being hammered by the massive guns of their mech adversaries. They also get hit a little less than larger robots, although a mech can quite easily murder a light bot or an assault bot (medium bot) if it gets a couple of clear shots.


We are, thanks to these esoteric elements, finally learning to use small robots effectively. There’s been a bit of solo action (and I killed a mining operation at one point) and some roaming about, and some running away from terrifying enemy gangs. After several outings where we tried to take on small enemy groups and found ourselves managing to get some kills through force of numbers, but ultimately dying in the process, we’ve recently managed to get a couple of kills that made us feel confident about holding the field in future.

Last Friday we went out with seven light robots to scout a nearby island. We glimpsed a few enemies at terminals or teleports, but they docked or jumped out as we approached. There was then a notification about an outpost defence, and so we went to investigate. Arriving at the remote capturable base we found a mk2 Artemis, one of the more expensive and powerful robots in the game, lurking around his HQ. To our surprise the player came away from his base and began to engage our gang of small robots. Using the cover of plants, rocks, and topography, we began to tackle the hostile bot, slowing it with our demobilizers and slowly putting damage onto it. The running battle lasted five minutes. It was a long fight in which two of us died, but eventually the stomping, blasting thing went down.

To our delight it was full of “T4″ loot, some of the better stuff in the game. We picked it up and zoomed off with our prize, only to find ourselves being pursued by the roused denizens of the island. I realised it was the perfect moment for a trap. Two dead and one newly logged-on pilot were back at the base, and so we quickly deployed the heavier mechs (as opposed to the small, light robots) for the first time. As our original gang fled for the teleport gate home, so the mechs ran to meet them on the other side.


Our gang, full of loot, waited at the gate as enemies charged towards them. I listened to the reports on our voice comms: “Four hundred metres.” I told the gang to get behind cover so they didn’t get sniped. Our mechs were not in position. “Three hundred metres.” The enemy mech was closing quickly, and would kill our gang if they were out in the open. “Two hundred metres. Two more mechs, two mk2 light bots.” The enemy reinforcements were upon us. “One hundred metres. He’s got us locked. He’s engaging.” The enemy robot attacked our light gang just as the three mech pilots arrived at the teleport.

Our mechs jumped in. The hostile mech realised he was in trouble. Half a kilometre ahead of his friends, he was now surrounded by light bots and had three mechs were locking him up. He threw up a shield bubble and tried to tank his way out, but it wasn’t happening. Surprised, his backup stalled, and then began to pull back. The firepower from three mechs and the small gang was too much, and our aggressor went down in a fireball. We even remembered about the death blast thing and didn’t lose anyone else. Thrilled, we chased after the enemy gang, which fell back to the other side of a nearby mountain. We were not fast enough to cut them off.

Full of loot, and fearing experienced enemy reinforcements, we decided enough was enough and went home. We savoured what was the first, I hope, of numerous successful fights to follow.

This was exactly the kind of PvP I was hoping for: challenging, complicated, dynamic. Perpetuum has some problems, not least of which are recent sporadic attacks by DDOSer types, but I am hopeful the tiny, brave game can make its way onwards. The developers are committed and making the kind of game I have only hoped to see made in the years since Eve Online was released. For that reason, and the action outlined above, I’m sticking with it.

This game definitely won’t be for everyone, but feel free to come and join us.

__________________

« | »

, , .

70 Comments »

  1. Nallen says:

    Nah, I sucked enough at EVE :) Currently noobing it up in SWTOR.

  2. battles_atlas says:

    So tempted to try, but scared I’ll like it and never escape…

  3. mentor07825 says:

    Played Eve Online for almost two years, finally dropped it a few weeks ago. Now just enjoying myself in Star Wars. I’d join in if I wasn’t already playing an MMO as it is.

  4. SpinalJack says:

    Sounds like fun times, maybe I’ll give that trial a spin

  5. Tiax says:

    Oh well, let’s give this a try.

    See you in approx. 600 MB

  6. Shortwave says:

    You more or less made this sound like the coolest game ever created to me.
    Sooo.. It’s downloading now. Just horrible slowly. I fear I might suck but we’ll have to see, haha.
    I’ve never really played an MMO game. Ever.

  7. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    Have been interested in this for a while… But I’m affraid this is just as time consuming as EVE is, which I can’t play because I lack the time. I need something slightly more fast paced, a quick action thing I can just play for an hour a day, with more depth then Battlefield…

    • jplayer01 says:

      I would be interested in something like that as well.

    • Torgen says:

      We have organized ops three times a week, and you can usually find someone to go ratting or artifact hunting with most any day. Since xp accrues on a real-life timer and not by how much you kill/how much you play, there’s no reason you can’t dabble.

      I felt under the weather the last couple days, so I just made a freight run or two to our manufacturing site on another island while chatting with mates, then logged off having done my bit for the corp.

  8. cibo says:

    Looks incredibly interesting. Mmmh, giant robots..

    I’d like to give it a try but I’m worried about ping. It looks like a game where a good ping matters. Where are the servers located? What if I wanna play from southeast asia? Is it feasible?

  9. Alexander Norris says:

    Jim: is Perpetuum as full of unfun logistics downtime as EVE? EVE has always been absolutely brilliant to read about but fairly rubbish to play unless you can get an established corp to float you.

    If the answer is no then damn, I probably want it. I love giant stompy robots and tactical action.

    • Torgen says:

      We have a profitable mining op in pvp territory that can net you a couple million in short order. One minerbot load is worth almost twice the value of the bot, so getting exploded isn’t as much of a setback as it could be.

    • Shortwave says:

      That is great news, I was worried I’d spent days getting something I can fight with.
      Only to lose it within seconds to start all over, haha.

    • Torgen says:

      Also, your first light combat bot is free after finishing the combat tutorial series. Also, pt 2: Corp helps reimburse PVP losses, and you can insure your bots as well (after purchasing the ability in the skill tree.)

  10. Selifator says:

    Sounds very interesting, I’ll give it a go for a bit.

  11. Inigo says:

    corporation

    They could at least try and pretend this isn’t EVE Online with robots.

  12. etzel_desu says:

    The battle mentioned in the article: http://perp-kill.net/?m=related&id=12656

  13. whexican says:

    Hmm..looks like fun/ Are you all still recurring players? If so, Whats the name of your group?

  14. Jova says:

    The fact that they’ve “borrowed” so much graphics and concepts from EVE Online makes me reluctant to even give the game a try. It’s the fact that the developers didn’t have the skills or will to make something of their own that makes me question them.

    • sPOONz says:

      I wonder what games you play if you settle for pure originality only?

    • Jova says:

      It’s not about originality. It’s about taking graphical assets from one game and reusing them in another. That’s either lazy or “I know I can’t make this, I’ll just take it instead.” And either is bad.

    • mpk says:

      They havent lifted graphics. They’ve, um, been “inspired by” certain EVE concepts, mechanics and systems, but the two game certainly dont look much alike in practise.

    • Bouncl says:

      @sPOONz

      In what ways is it different from EVE, beyond the fact that frigates are more effective than “light bots” are? They have killboards, similar (if not the same) interfaces, similar weapons (railguns, lasers, missiles) with similar damage types. This is not necessarily bad- but why would I stop playing EVE to play this? What sets it apart?

      Also, how many newbs are there that mine in the Perpetuum equivalent of low/nullsec?

    • mpk says:

      It’s different from EVE in the same way that WAR is different from WoW.

      That’s actually a horrendous oversimplification, but you get the meaning. If EVE had been the success that WOW was, we’d probably be as overrun with knockoffs and clones of that as we are with WoW-likes now.

      Perp is drawn from a similiar template to EVE, but there are crucial differences. Combat is chalk to EVE’s ostrich meat burger, industry is more complex and set up to be even more reliant on players than EVE was/is and the dev’s plan to remove all NPC orders from the market at some point.

      The beauty of it is, this is EVE in 2003/4 when the population was small and things were just begining. There’s a small hardcore of vets who’ve been there since beta, and an influx of jaded EVE pilots and other interested humans who are starting to make the place interesting. When I played the Perp beta, it reminded me so much of EVE that I resubbed to that instead – now I’m playing this, because it’s different enough to make me want to play anew.

      The opportunity is there in Perp to overcome the status quo and become one of the monolithic entities that hovered over EVE’s PvPers in the early days – a new BoB or Ascendant Frontier, or even RA or Goon. I’d rather not, but the potential is the most exciting part of Perp.

  15. Jockie says:

    Think I’ll have a gander at this tonight, time permitting. I will no doubt, be terrible.

  16. Chronootje says:

    Really intrigued about this game actually. Currently downloading it, will probably start playing somewhere tomorrow :) I hope i will be any good at it, i kinda sucked at EVE so ^^’

  17. Wolfman says:

    The most important thing for me is:

    Is it worth quitting Eve to start up this game?

    I can’t play two MMOs and I’ve invested loads of time into Eve. But interested in Perpetuum since I first heard about it.

    • Torgen says:

      Lots and lots of Eve vets in game. Some come from Eve and go back, some stay.

      @cibo: servers are in Hungary, I believe. Ping from eastern US isn’t bad at all, unless the server is being DDOSed, though sometimes I have trouble getting logged in.

    • Bastimoo says:

      Atleast for me it was definately worth it.
      In contrast to eve single players matter, and “the dices haven’t fallen yet”, so even we as a new corp have ‘great’ chances to get on Beta islands (0.0 sec). In addition you – due to the small playerbase- have the feeling to be valuable yourself.
      Also it’s not the dumb feeling of ‘jump, warp to, align, warp to’-rotation but terrain and movement actually matters a lot;)

    • xenogrant says:

      i would say the only improvement over eve is once you get into a fight you’re commited to it and can’t just warp out, other than that i personally find it to take all the things I loved in eve and butcher most of them, except skill training. Try it for 2 weeks.

  18. Tringle says:

    How does one go about joining you guys in this grand adventure.

    • Torgen says:

      Download the client, pick your faction, log in, and join channel RPS. All corps are cross-faction, as there’s a rock-paper-scissors combat balance.

      “Blue” Nuimqol (railguns/EM) are weak to lasers/thermal and do kinetic damage.
      “Yellow” Theodolica (lasers) are weak to seismic and do thermal damage.
      “Green” Pelistial (missiles) are weak to kinetic and do seismic damage.

      Do your tutorial series to get a free advanced beginner bot, and do the industrial tutorial series to get a free mining bot. Also, download Mumble for voice comms. You’ll be given the channel password when you’re accepted into the corps.

  19. Tiax says:

    Already stuck, there’s a bug in the 4th mission tutorial where I’m supposed to interact with an object. The yellow progression bar fills up, but nothing happens.

    Oh, well.

    • Torgen says:

      Do you have your assignments window open? IIRC, you click that one, and then there’s a second one right nearby you have to click. Easy to miss if you aren’t looking for the cue in the radar or landscape, or don’t have your assignments window open.

  20. xenogrant says:

    I remember back in beta that was the biggest complaint i’ve had and voiced over and over again. In EVE every ship class has a role, down from the light and fast frigates to jam and snare opponents large ships. In perpetuum beta, the longer you played teh better mech you got, which would out run and out gun mechs lighter and faster than yours. In meta game everyone was running with speed sniper set ups, and would just run out of range of the opponent and pick at their health from just out of reach.

  21. Nimloth says:

    Hey Jim, it’s Nim, formally of RPS Holdings. I’ll be downloading the client tonight. Provided I have time, I may even jump on. I’ve been looking for something to fill the cold void left by EVE for a while now. Fingers crossed and all that.

  22. gebbet says:

    this cool story reminds me of Mechcommander intro :]

  23. JB says:

    I’ve grabbed the client, I’ll give it a whirl later tonight (all being well).

  24. skyturnedred says:

    I tried it for a bit and dear god I’m overwhelmed! But this time I’m gonna give it a real try, unlike I did with Eve.

    • lobstilops says:

      Exactly how I’m feeling! I remember taking a stab at eve a couple years back, but it was far too complex for me at the time. Now that I’ve grown a bit gaming wise I’m going to give this game a chance. Good luck to use both :)

  25. FootlingSummers says:

    Downloading this now. Hoping the RPS group won’t mind a 16 yr old who has no idea what theyre doing.

    Also, this is my first time posting on the site so hi everyone.

    ALSO ALSO, is there anyway to change my password or am I doomed to remembering the one I was given?

  26. jim1970 says:

    I have downloaded the client and created a character… have I won yet?

    I have never played an MMO before but do like big robots.

    The last game manual I read was for Grand Prix Legends… do I have to read one for this?

    • jimmm25 says:

      I also have never played an MMO but it was also the big robots that made me want to play. I also tend not to read game manuals and am also called Jim. Are we the same person? Does everyone called Jim like robots? Why won’t the site load for me? Is the site down? Will any of these questions ever get answered? I know your question won’t be answered by me because as I said the site won’t load for me.

    • Torgen says:

      Site’s loading super-fast for me right now. In fact, faster than it ever has. Maybe a new host or bigger pipeline to combat the DDOSes? http://www.perpetuum-online.com/Client_download

  27. chuckles73 says:

    Ridiculously slow download is ridiculous and slow.

  28. mpk says:

    Awesome turnout from new players was awesome.

    Thanks for turning up tonight guys, hope you all stick about :)

  29. Tunips says:

    Is there much point trying this from Australia? With regards to ping and other players being about at that timezone.

  30. 1stGear says:

    I’ve given EVE more than a few abortive attempts so I may as well try this one out too.

  31. Scandalon says:

    They seriously need better download options/more mirrors/something. Downloading c. 500 megs like it’s 1999. (On a rather unfettered university pipe that’s usually quite speedy.)

  32. porps says:

    i was on the beta for this but it completely put me off. It’s like an even less exciting version of eve.. If that’s possible.

  33. ScorpionWasp says:

    Got me intrigued until I heard the term “XP”. I find the notion of a player obtaining in-game advantages simply by having played more thoroughly repulsive. Imagine if Chess was like that; Kasparov starts the game with 10 queens, while the n00b gets only pawns…

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      cannot be arsed to explain all that is wrong about what you said much easier just to say………….you are a fuck nut

    • utharda says:

      Its the fps outlook. I thinhk perhaps this one, in an addled state, mistook rps for fps, and started posting.

      Also See yall in a while. Giant stompy internet spreadsheets!

  34. Quinnbeast says:

    - broken reply button! -

  35. 0WaxMan0 says:

    Well Jim you have managed to get my enthusiasm back for another plunge into the perpetuum pool, as long as the wife does not want to play Rift tonight I may well be re-subbing and popping over to say hi.

    Great to see people enjoying what is a great and hugely promising game, just try and dodge the burn out.

  36. Blackcompany says:

    I would love – love – to get into a mature, no hand holding RPG game like this. Something that could double as an actual hobby. Except…well, I suck at shooters. And I need to use a controller to play, due to my wrists. Now, XPadder makes this easy…but I always get destroyed by kb/m players in such games. This would likely prove no exception.
    ….
    That said I am glad games like this exist. I wish more games would do away with the hand holding, babysitting mentality and just give players a world to play in. We need more wide open spaces and fewer rails.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      This really isn’t a shooter as far as I can tell. It’s more in the MMO school of “select target, select weapon, wait for combat to end”, just with more strafing.

      Note that I could be completely wrong about that, I haven’t even finished the tutorial missions yet.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Good to know, actually. I might have to give this a try, then. Sounds like a blast to play, as far as the open, hands off world goes. Its just that pvp shooter worry. Always loved them; always sucked at them.

  37. Armitage says:

    Sounds great, but the comparisons to eve make me wary. The whole ‘spreadsheets’ thing is really a turn off. I simply don’t find it fun. Knowing my aversion to that, should I give it a try ?

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>