Most established developers, these days, have shied away from sandbox MMOs, preferring to create another WoW-clone rather than risk investing large sums of money on a niche title. However, this doesn’t mean that the gap in the market is completely ignored as there will always be gamers who prefer the freedom provided by this type of gameplay…and there will always be indie developers willing to deliver. One such company is Avatar Creations, formed within the intricate depths of the demo scene and presenting their game – Perpetuum Online. Looking like an intriguing mix of giant mech action with the complexity of a sandbox MMO, this Transformers-meets-EVE hybrid is definitely one to watch out for. The game is set to officially launch on the 25th of November, but players with early access subscriptions will be able to log in a week early. We decided to get in touch with the team behind Perpetuum and get some information about the title.
LoreHound: Can you give us a quick introduction to Perpetuum? What would you tell to players not familiar with the game?
Avatar Creations: Perpetuum is a single server, open world sandbox MMORPG. What this means is that everyone plays on the same server and everyone does whatever they want in the confines of the rules of the game world. Everything players do affects the game permanently, and the actions of a player can only be undone by another player or the physics of the game. The game takes place on the planet Nia, where a portion of the native robotic lifeform has been infected by humans and we now have remote control over them. At this time in the story humanity basically just arrived and has to build out a base of operations to harness the energy found on the planet.
LH: What kind of features does this game have that help it stand out among the existing titles on the market?
AC: When designing the game we aimed to create a complex and dynamic world with its own natural laws, and we wanted players themselves to be a crucial part of that world. The game is thereby extremely focused on teamwork, which made a single-server approach our best choice – this alone is pretty rare in today’s MMOs. The game world itself is completely dynamic and constantly changing – in undisturbed areas the plantlife grows rampant, but that scenery can be turned into a barren wasteland by an intense fight in a matter of minutes. The minerals in the ground deplete during mining and slowly grow back with time. In a later expansion even the terrain itself will be modifiable by the players to protect and arrange the settlements and infrastructure they built. Perpetuum is not just a game, it’s a complex game world in itself, and you decide what you want to do in it.
LH: Perpetuum has been in beta for quite some time. Looking at the current state of the game, how has it changed since the early testing phases?
AC: We started beta with a PvP test to get the combat balance fleshed out. As Perpetuum features a lot of complex systems that needed to be tested one at a time we enabled these systems one by one and tested and fixed each of them rigorously. So what players saw back when the beta first started was quite different than what they can see now, but that was part of the plan.
LH: Have you been surprised by the feedback you got? What features in particular surprised or pleased fans the most?
AC: The feedback was overwhelmingly good thus far and we’re very happy with the community that’s starting to grow here. The most anticipated feature is probably the ability for players to build settlements and teraform the area around them, but this one will come in an expansion – players will need time to get to that level from the ground up though so by the time the first players would be able to go off and build their own place the expansion will be real close.
LH: Not all players prefer PvP as their prime choice of entertainment in an MMO. How is the PvE side of the game shaping up?
AC: PvE is a tougher question as it requires a tremendous amount of content. As we’re a small indy team we’re a bit slower in that area but we already have lots to do for the casual PvE players and we protect them by having areas in the game that are consensual PvP only. More content is getting added all the time, and eventually as we grow the world the PvE friendly area will also grow.
LH: How do you envision current endgame?
AC: Currently the endgame is a kind of territorial warfare called Intrusion which focuses on players taking over existing outposts on some of the islands and reaping the benefits from them. Eventually we want players to be able to carve out their own piece of the world by building there and rearranging the scenery, and go to war over high value territories.
LH: What payment model are you going for?
AC: Perpetuum is subscription based for the very affordable sum of €8.95/$9.95 per 30 days depending on the region. Creating an account and downloading the client will however be free of charge.
LH: How important is lore to the world of Perpetuum? Is the game firmly set in its own universe and does it use the setting to engage players?
AC: The lore is quite an important part of the game world. Over the years we want to tell a story of humanity arriving on an alien planet and do a very human thing – conquering and taking what they need. Currently, the players are in the first wave of a foothold situation and need to get organized and set up a base of operations in order to later further explore the planet and supply Earth with the energy it desperately requires.
LH: As a relatively new studio looking to bring a new game to the crowded MMO market, are you concerned about competition from bigger companies with already established franchises?
AC: Not really, as success in our opinion is not defined by how big a game is. A relatively small game can be successful, too, if done right. We want Perpetuum to grow along with the community instead of starting with a huge bang and fade into nothing as a result of an unsustainable model. Also, the mech sandbox niche is quite empty :)
LH: Sandbox MMOs, especially the ones that feature a complex economy and varied game mechanics, can intimidate new players due to the high difficulty curve. Is anything being done to ease the players into the world of Perpetuum?
AC: Yes, we tried to create each system in a way that makes sense. To do this we looked at real life examples for our game systems and based everything around them. What would an item trading service look like if you had the possibility to send packages from one point to another in an instant? That’s how we designed the market. What would humanity do to recreate alien technology which they just found? That’s how we designed the crafting system. But, of course, Perpetuum is still a complex game and we help that along with good tutorials and by making sure that, [when a player wants to learn how to do one thing], they don’t have to know everything else, too.
LH: What is the degree of freedom given to players? What is the team’s stance on player interactions that can result in deception and betrayal within the game world?
AC: Our team stands by a strict “level playing field” policy. What this means is that we want to supply perfectly equal opportunities to each player in the game. As our players are going to be part of the game content we need to make sure that level is not breached by exploits or in other ways, including any of the game staff giving an unfair advantage to any player. To do this effectively, we decided not to dabble in the in-game affairs of our players — we supply the world and the basic rules it works by, and the players are free to do whatever they want within the confines of that ruleset. And yes, that includes stabbing each other in the back. To keep a level playing field for every single one of our players, the dev team must be completely impartial.
LH: What kind of players do you think Perpetuum will appeal most to?
AC: Being a sandbox game, Perpetuum aims for the crowd that likes to set its own goals and likes to plan ahead to achieve what they want. It is a very social game that requires players to interact with each other on a regular basis. Perpetuum offers a wide variety of activities, all of which we put a lot of effort into implementing. Be it combat, crafting, trading or the social aspect, players have a very deep
system that they can use according to their own style and pace of playing. There are many options to do any one thing in the game, you
decide which one fits you best.
LH: What would you advise to readers that are interested in Perpetuum and want to check it out?
AC: If you’re interested, come and check the game out before the open beta ends on the 16th of November — let the game speak for itself! See you in game!
LH: Thank you for your time.