Our Jim kept half an eye on sci-fi sandbox MMORPG The Repopulation [official site], intrigued by players building bases and cities, before he slinked out of RPS and into the woods. We still find wicker rocket launchers hanging from trees so we know he's safe, but wouldn't it be nice to see him again? Maybe we can lure him out.
Jim, The Repopulation is in trouble. (Is that the rustling of leaves I hear?) But its developers do have a plan. (Is that the yelp of a man who's snagged his untamed beard on a branch?) They're porting it to Unreal Engine, but starting small with a stripped-down spin-off survival game as a base. (Oh, is that a sigh?)
I'll get to the troubles later, but first: the plan. So! Developers Above and Beyond Technologies have announced Fragmented [official site], a typical-sounding crafty buildy sandbox survival game built in Unreal Engine.
It's using assets from The Repopulation, will be given free to folks who bought The Repopulation, and will become the foundation for an Unreal port of The Repopulation. As well as having a smaller scope and fewer MMORPG things, Fragmented is set a few years before The Repopulation, when people are trying to survive long enough to get around to that whole repopulating business.
"Why are you going on about game engines so much?" you may ask. "It seems you'd usually not care about that, that you'd think pointing out the engine is usually one of the least interesting things you could say about a game." Yes, usually. But the swap is partially motivated by problems with HeroEngine, the MMO engine and platform it's built upon (as also seen in Star Wars: The Old Republic).
In December, Above and Beyond shut down the still-on-Steam-Early-Access MMO's servers, citing the economic troubles of HeroEngine owners Idea Fabrik as the cause. The servers are still down, Above and Beyond have pulled the game from sale, and it's unlikely this version will be finished. In Fragmented's announcement, they say:
"Given the way events unfolded here, we felt that starting on Fragmented during the downtime would be the best way to go. If the Repop situation changed we could put Fragmented on hold to finish Repop off. But at this point none of that has happened, and we have to be realistic and move forward. We are still open to bringing out the current version of The Repopulation, but we also need to be prepared to simply salvage what we can from it and allow it to be reborn."
The story gets a bit messy, with some having speculated that Idea Fabrik's financial troubles were caused by the Repopulation devs. As Massively Overpowered reports, it seems a three-way deal between Idea Fabrik, Above and Beyond, and a third party who pulled out was to blame. Which... this is all a bit messy, but it's probably important enough to go into.
Anyway! Fragmented is due to start testing in February. It'll support strictly PvE servers as well as PvP action, and let players host their own servers - as will The Repopulation, which it couldn't on HeroEngine. Once Fragmented is nicely on its way, they'll start building from its base up into The Repopulation so, er, people who paid for it can play it. For now, have a gander at Fragmented:
I think I hear someone trudging back into the trees.