The heists and co-op consumerism of GTA Online was (and is) probably the best thing about Rockstar’s latest blockbuster. With the very notable exception of APB, few have tried to outright ape the crimes 'n' capers online sandbox formula. But Broke Protocol [official site] is aiming for just that. It's a blocky criminal roleplaying game set in a persistent online world where you can grow weed, hijack cars and get shot by the police while robbing a bank. Come see it in action below.
There’s also the option to play as law enforcement or a vigilante, say developers Cylinder Studios. “You can roleplay in limitless ways to gain money, power, and influence in a diverse low-poly world,” they say. “You start with nothing and have to build your wealth, while managing your hunger, thirst, stamina, and addiction levels.”
It’s been doing a free alpha on IndieDB since October 2015, gathering some players as the map and mechanical bits get built. But it recently barged into Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter, searching for that sweet cash monies to continue the project.
Online sandboxes are always ambitious projects, and this looks no different. As well as the everyday danger of being shot or arrested on the street by NPCs, the devs say they want to ensure “meaningful player-player interactions”. But the method for doing so isn't mentioned. Exactly how you can guarantee all players don't simply run you over with a stolen ambulance, I'm not sure.
To be fair, GTA Online does frequently vomit up a player who doesn’t try to murder you on sight. But it just as often sees players causing carnage for the sake of carnage – and it has the benefit of a “ghost” mode in which you can’t be interfered with. There’s no sign here of exactly what Broke Protocol has planned to make their crims play in more interesting ways. But good enough co-op might make all that irrelevant. I loved going for post-heist tattoos with my fellow multiplayer cronies in GTA and enjoyed the collective bragging we did about the cars we bought with the dirty money. If it can just recreate some of that feeling, it might have something going for it.