WarCry recently had the privilege to sit down with Matt McEnerney, Executive Producer of the successful, albeit somewhat controversial, MMOFPS, CrimeCraft. Find out why he thinks CrimeCraft has cornered an untapped piece of the online gaming world...and more!
1. Please introduce yourself and give us your development background, position at Vogster.
My name is Matt McEnerney. Executive Producer for CrimeCraft.
2. For those unfamiliar with Crimecraft, what can you tell us about the game overall?
CrimeCraft is a persistent world shooter set in the not-too-distant future where gang violence is a part of everyday life.
3. CC is the first of its type. Why did Vogster opt for a modern real world crime-based MMO?
Using a modern world is a familiar setting for players. People can easily understand the world, the characters, and the items that are presented within the game. Shotguns will function like standard shotguns and a tee-shirt will look like a normal, everyday tee shirt. At times, we do stretch into some high-tech and advanced science, but everything remains grounded in present-day reality. That and we're pretty sure there are enough fantasy MMOs out there already.
4. Australia recently banned CC because of the game's depiction of "positive" drug use. How do you respond?
Well, we have boosts that enhance your character's performance. It's a major part of the game. Health packs and attribute powerups have been a standard in games for over 20 years. Even Pac-Man got a power boost against ghost enemies when he ate the big white pills. While we could rant about freedom of speech issues (which we already did on our dev blog), our friends down under can just hit our site and download the game anyway.
5. Does CC have an active fan base? How much player input is solicited?
Our players are definitely very active and we try to bring them in and make them as much a part of the game as possible. We have a steady fixture on the forums soliciting player feedback that we address directly. We're trying to build a larger playerbase and our player's have been instrumental on how we approach doing it. Like most large scale multiplayer games, the more people playing, the more fun it is so our players are aligned with us on spreading the word about the game and helping us define initiatives that will make the game better and more attractive to a wider range of players.
6. What is the background and setting of CC?
In a nutshell, the universe of CrimeCraft is based loosely on what ifs? What if the world is not able to turn around dependence on fossil fuels? What if this one element destabilizes the world economy enough that the world tumbles into chaos and people with the biggest gangs and the most guns took over the major cities of the world? Sunrise City is run by 6 different crime families as an independent city-state and the players are the citizens.
7. How important is the overarching story to CC?
Intially we kept the story very loose and let the players determine where we take it. Since then we've rolled out a new feature called the Sunrise City Times which is our in-game newspaper. The Times features more depth on the backstory as players get more into the intrigue surrounding the city as well as features on player gangs, game events and individual players. We're continuing to uncover some of the secrets on what exactly happened to the world as well as who really controls the city. Some players don't care about story and may never pick up a copy of the newspaper, but for players that enjoy it, we've created a deep intriguing story and we've just scratched the surface.
8. What classes and races are to be included in CC?
We don't have classes and races in the standard fantasy RPG style. No elves in this game, just humans both male and female. We don't have a traditional class system. Instead, we use an open system which allows players to mix and match skills from many of the traditional shooter classes. We also allow the player to rollback their choices and re-spec at any time.
9. Which of the above is your personal favorite and why?
I like things that go "boom", so I prefer to use proximity mines and other explosives.
10. Explain the quest system please.
There are two types: missions and jobs. Missions are driven by NPC's are more narrative and story based and jobs are performance driven. A typical Mission will have you handling tasks for one of the gangs that control Sunrise City - go to X Align Shipping and wipe out the boss of a rival gang. A typical Mission is a much more game centric challenge - Kill 20 other players using only melee attacks. Having both lets players focus on what they want to be doing and reward them regardless of their play style.
11. Does CC feature a cash mall? What types of items are to be included in it? Which are your favorites?
We have a black market vendor which currently sells only cosmetic items .. We give players a bunch of Gold Bars (our real money currency) as part of their subscription so all paying players can use the system. We have thematic sets of clothing that we roll out on a monthly basis. We started with Pirate and Ninja outfits and we've done things like bikers and SWAT gear. It's a fun way for players to personalize their appearance if they want to. We also sell colors on the black market, so I dye my items green.
12. What Many MMO players complain about the "grind". How much "grind" is involved in CC to reach the level cap?
The biggest difference with the grind in CC compared to most MMO's is the unpredictability of the largely skill based PvP play. You never get the same experience twice. You never hear FPS players speak of grind even though they play the same map 20 times in a session. Shooting other people and using tactics to overcome opponents is a far different experience than hitting the same hotkey buttons in the same order for nearly every encounter of a typical MMO. CrimeCraft takes the reusable nature of a shooter and layers the RPG character development and progress on top.
13. What is the CC level cap? How long would you estimate it would take a player to reach the cap?
Right now, the level cap is 50. We originally estimated over 240 hours to reach level cap, but there have been select cases of highly skilled PvP players achieving the level cap faster.
14. Are there adequate challenges for high-level players?
The major challenge for high-level players is to maintain their rank against other high-level players. Leaderboards are displayed in game and if you snooze, you will be passed. Gangs are our version of Guilds so instead of Raids we have lots of plans to expand the CC end-game in Gang focused ways.
15. What would you estimate the learning curve will be for new players to CC?
The biggest problem we faced was getting traditional MMO players into the skill-based shooter and getting the traditional shooter players into the MMO aspects. For MMO players, we have items that can assist your PvP game and for the shooter players, we have a pretty simple leveling and mission system. Tutorials are always works in progress and we have a new version in development right now even though we haven't seen too many issues in learning the ropes.
16. Are 'gangs' similar to guilds in a traditional MMORPG? Explain.
Gangs are very similar to traditional guilds. We have internal ranks and hideouts which function like guild halls. We're looking to expand upon the current content and provide more feature and functions within the gang hall.
17. What about PvP?
PvP is a major part of the game. There is a lot of trash taking and rivalries that are happening online which makes for some interesting in-game chat.
18. Is CC geared more to the hardcore player or the casual player? What are the best features for each type?
That really depends on how you define "hardcore" and "casual" players. Are you referring to time invested? A player skill in PvP matches? A player's knowledge of games? I'd rather look at the audience in Bartle's terms. CC is geared mainly toward the Killer and Achiever types with the Socializer falling behind those two groups. Because we have a smaller, instance-based game world, CC isn't as appealing to the Explorer types. Since the game is mostly PvP based, the killer-archetype will like the game. For the achiever-types, we have thousands of missions, jobs, and achievements as well as leaderboards and rankings. The gang-based features and lobby functions are meant to be geared towards the socialize-types.
19. What is your favorite in-game?
Though I am generally an achiever type of gamer, I like the unpredictable nature of the PvP gameplay which helps soften the grind in my mind.
20. CC has gone through a transformation from a subscription game to a F2P. Why was this decision made?
We saw a lot of posts on our forums and many reviews that suggested that we should think about this making the game F2P. Originally, the subscription model was introduced because our operating costs were very high, but at the end of the day, we feel like we have a more compelling product than the other F2P shooters and we can be more competitive in that market rather than fighting for subscriptions in tough economic times against the heavy hitters in the MMO space.
21. Was the decision to move to a F2P model successful? Please explain.
That has yet to be determined. It only has been two months. We have seen more players enter the game, but the typical F2P game doesn't see players transition into paying players right away. We also realized quickly that we set the limitations on our free players too tight so we'll be opening up a lot more of the game to them in our next big update.
22. How has the community received the new model?
Overall people have supported the new model, though we may have been too tight on the restrictions to the free players. We wanted to err on the conservative side, rather than give away too much as some F2P shooters have done.
23. What have been your most rewarding moments in CC's development?
Being able to jump into the game after launch and start a gang. Our QA lead is our gang leader, I could tell you who we are, but then I'd have to kill you.
24. What have been the most challenging moments in CC's development?
The most challenging has been trying to blend the two genres together into a cohesive world. You will not be able to satisfy every shooter fan and you will not be able to satisfy every MMORPG fan. Hopefully we can strike a happy balance and bring some of these fans together. (Our current data shows that we have pretty close split between shooter and RPG fans.)