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Interview: Perpetuum Online

Here and there RPS folks have been asking about Perpetuum Online, the Hungarian robo-MMO that is currently in closed beta. No doubt by now a few of you have made it onto that beta, too. I've been on there for a while, and I've been intrigued by what I've found: a constantly evolving sandbox MMO that is more reminiscent of Eve that anything else, and with an art-style and world design that is refreshingly atmospheric. To find out a little more I took some time to chat to Szelei Kis Gergely, from Avatar Creations, about his company's aims for this independent MMO project. His responses, as well my time with the game itself, leave me feeling quietly excited for its prospects...

RPS: Hello! Can you tell us a bit about who you guys are and how you came to be developing Perpetuum?

Gergely: Our development team is really small, about ten people. We have four programmers (two on client and two on server side), two graphics artists, a writer, a balance/game mechanic guy, a musician and a few people closely helping out with content and balance. The guys who started the development have a Demoscene background, that's how we met. The rest of the team came from friends and family, and after we went into the first beta stage some of the players became an integral part of the development. Aside from one of our graphics artists, none of us have worked in the game industry before, but we have a passion for playing and making games, especially Perpetuum. Over the years we got used to working together and we feel the team is really solid.

RPS: So it's an MMO with robots, but it's not your typical MMO - can you explain our readers a bit about what players get up to in Perpetuum?

Gergely: Perpetuum is what you call a persistent sandbox MMO. Unlike in games like WoW, in Perpetuum you can permanently change the world you play in. If a mineral field is depleted it is depleted for everyone. If you build a structure, everyone who walks that way will see it. We pretty much modeled the real world in this aspect. Of course like any world, ours has its own rules too, but we're designing these so our players will have a wide variety of options to change the environment they play in.

RPS: The game is in a closed beta at the moment, and seems to be coming along rather well, but what are your plans for the future? Will we see an open beta soon? Do you have any ideas about the release date?

We're currently working very hard to get an open beta out. As a pretext for this we're constantly letting in a lot of the guys who have been waiting to be accepted for the beta. We'd like to open up the servers sometime during the summer. As for the release date - let's just say we're aiming for this year.

RPS: I have to ask about the similarities to Eve Online - how much of an influence has CCP's game been on Perpetuum?

Gergely: Ah, the usual question. To the surprise of many people, the Perpetuum dev team is mostly quite unfamiliar with EVE. The vision of the two games is very similar though - a complex, persistent, sandbox world based on the real one - and this is where the similarities come from. There are a list of "must have" features for a game like Perpetuum where we want the players to do everything themselves - features like material gathering, production, market, a guild system, etc. Without these features either game would be incomplete, and the fact that both have them means that there are some aspects that are similar. But if you look at the setting you can't really compare the games at all.

RPS: Perpetuum is going to be single-shared game, as I understand it. Is that going to create any problems for you? How do you handle large numbers of players in one place?

Gergely: Yes, Perpetuum is aimed to be a single-sharded game. We feel that the proper way of doing a persistent sandbox game is this route. We've of course designed the whole system towards this goal. Our world is made up of islands, any of which can run on a separate machine. We don't expect problems with the player counts we have in mind.

RPS: Can you tell us a bit about the larger PvP game? Will player alliances be battling for control of territory? What will the value of owning territory be?

Gergely: Large scale PvP is one of the things we're very much looking forward to. The point of owning territory will be the resources found on that land: be it materials, fertile ground, high end NPC-s, there will be lots of things players will want to get to and from where they will want to keep other players out. To this end you'll be able to build settlements with complex infrastructures, and even terraform the land around them. In Perpetuum you literally will be able to move mountains. Think trench warfare and mix it with RTS style settlement building.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

Jim's note: RPS is so invading this game en masse when the beta opens up.

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Perpetuum Online

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Jim Rossignol