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When Above & Beyond Technologies announced that its sci-fi MMO The Repopulation will launch before the end of 2015, sandbox fans simultaneously pumped their fists and arched their brows. MassivelyOP tracked down lead developer J.C. Smith and asked him about the ambitious release window as well as whether or not the dev team is feeling the pressure of expectations.
Read the full interview after the cut!
MassivelyOP: The recent announcement of your Q4 launch was met with both excitement and a bit of trepidation, at least in our community. While it seems like everyone wants the game to succeed, quite a few people thought that Q4 is pretty optimistic given the current state of the game. How would you respond to players who feel like that’s not enough time?
J.C. Smith: We’ve always taken the approach that if the game isn’t ready we will delay. Things are moving pretty quickly here behind the scenes, and our staff is larger than ever. At this point there’s only a small number of features to add and our focus will be on stability, bug fixes, and content. We feel that it is an aggressive timeline, but one that we can meet. However, if we get into November and the game isn’t ready we would not hesitate to push it back until it is. Our full focus though is on getting the game ready for an end of year launch.
Sieges need to be reintroduced, which is going to be happening relatively soon. That will be followed by the hardcore rule set, and exposing the XML interface to players. There are also a number of smaller things that are happening either in next week’s build (which focuses heavily on combat and mission updates) or over the next few patches. But our focus is going to be on stability, content, and bug-fixing for the most part. Those are things we can get done quickly once they become the primary target.
Do you feel any pressure relative to the expectations for The Repopulation? It’s common to hear MMO players refer to the game as the heir apparent to Star Wars: Galaxies and something of a savior for the sandbox genre. Do you embrace those expectations at this point?
There is definitely pressure there. SWG brought a style of gameplay that doesn’t really exist any more other than in emulators. While we have not cloned its features, we have tried to recapture its spirit.
The Repopulation won’t be for everyone. But we want to ensure that the target audience (which is comprised largely of SWG refugees) is happy with the experience. Our focus when we set out was to create an old-school sandbox, and I think we’ve done that. At this point the challenge is to polish it to a level which will appeal to more gamers, and that’s where the remainder of this year should be especially exciting.
If you could pick one feature of The Repopulation that would influence the wider MMO industry, what would it be?
I’m personally a big fan of our mission system. I think so much time is spent in games designing hand-crafted quests which will be done once and forgotten about. And the hub mentality to drive content has resulted in areas being done once and then out-leveled.
We’re still scratching the surface on the more complex things we can do with it, but I love the fact that players can manipulate the personality traits of NPCs, which can manipulate the missions being offered. That you can receive missions from anyplace in the world which can be tailored to your skills and that we can reuse those templates in various areas with generated NPCs, items, or twists. I think the genre in general needs more generation if it is going to be able to compete with the rate that players can consume content.