APB. I Think U Dun Goofed

APB logo
APB logo

Long, long ago in the summer of 2010 there lived a game called All Points Bulletin. It was a large sandbox-ish Grand Theft Auto online that took developer Realtime Worlds millions to create. For many, it was a brief stint of entertainment that was hindered by hacks, broken mechanics, and normal players being dominated by gamers who memorized the map and all the good camping spots. For some, it was a new age Wild West where you could roam the city freely and reap havoc on a grand scale against friend and foe.

Of any game out there it had the most amazing character customization option to date. People were creating Ninja Turtle Gangsters with a van to match. People made pedophile theme gangster with Pedobear etched on the side of their vehicles. The game had so much to offer cosmetic hogs that it seemed it could hold a respectable player base for that option alone at least.

But what happened? APB just didn’t seem to hit its expected highs and hit unexpected lows. Was it because of the game? Was it because there were no commercials or real advertisements? You’d think a game like this would have millions of GTA fans drooling all over it. Unfortunately for Realtime Worlds, this isn’t a dream that would become a reality. On September 16th, 2010 the game would breathe its last breaths as it was announced they would be bringing it offline. All the servers came down and that was the end of this Gangster Vs Vigilante Armageddon.

However…

Recently it was announced that free MMO publisher Gamersfirst was going to resuscitate the corpse of APB and release it within the first half of the next year under a Free to Play model. While it does seem they intend to bring back APB, it certainly feels like it is going to be zombified rather than returning to its true former grace.

The team developing this game under Gamersfirst is Reloaded Productions, a group that has been working on an original RPG for the past year or so and has released nothing under its belt. None of the former the employees of Realtime Worlds are even involved in this Rebirth project.

This Free to Play model wreaks of failure as well. Former players of APB will most likely not even be able to play as their old characters and would have to start over again. Why is that? Well, legal issues from Realtime Worlds indicate that they can’t release databases with customer information so this release of APB would be more of an APB v2.

Exactly how will this F2P model work? It has been confirmed that players may “lease” weapons and purchase a premium status that expands on the creation tools. Let me allow this to set in. It expands on nothing. Reloaded Productions isn’t expanding on the current games creation tools. They are holding back options that this game was released with and are now charging players to unlock the only real great thing this game had going for it.

What was the point of this purchase? Everything about this rerelease suggests that this game will be an abomination beyond all abominations. While it hasn’t been released yet and I am talking out of my ass, the confirmed changes in the team, the monetized plan, and the withholding of the games key feature just makes me uninterested in the future of APB.

How can a developer who didn’t create this game and doesn’t even know how to manage the Unreal 3 Engine that it was based upon make this game a future success. That’s like asking me to work on it your trigonometry homework. Just because I’m part Asian doesn’t mean I know math. The same goes for a “developer” who acquires a game they didn’t work on and expecting to be able to reverse engineer something they don’t understand.

I wouldn’t suggest jumping back into APB if you’re really looking to get into this game again. Just get Grand Theft Auto 4 and play online if you’re looking for a shootout jamboree. With all the mechanic flaws this game had under Realtime Worlds, there is no possible way that Reloaded Productions is going to be able fix any of the mistakes the original team failed to correct firsthand.

(Real)time has run out

So Scottish developer Realtime Worlds has gone into administration, following the poor response to its online game APB, leaving ambitious future project MyWorld hanging in the balance. What has gone wrong for founder David Jones, and what impact will it have on the British software industry?

In the wake of Crackdown – its appeal no doubt helped by the Halo 3 beta that Microsoft “attached” to the game – there were plans for a sequel, and for work to commence on Jones’ ambitious “crime MMO”. Somewhere along the line new developer Ruffian – also based in Dundee – got the Crackdown 2 contract and Realtime were concentrating on APB.

There was hype certainly, much of it centring on Realtime’s pedigree and David Jones himself as one of the creators of the GTA franchise. But were expectations raised too high? Fans were expecting a persistent game world populated with many people. What they got was small groups on isolated servers. Players were expecting more sandbox style gameplay, the ability to go anywhere and do anything. The result was disappointing, with only certain vehicles able to be hijacked and gunfights limited to current rivals.

The final strike had to be the pricing model. The talk before the launch was of a new way of doing things, but what it amounted to was either a monthly subscription (nothing new for MMO players) or a pay-as-you-go scheme. This seemed to be a sticking point for many reviewers. With poor feedback, poor sales and poor prospects – even with hints of a patch/upgrade promising more action in “chaos zones” – it was almost inevitable that it would affect Realtime Worlds and its future. But the sudden announcement of layoffs on the MyWorld team was followed by the administrators being called in, even after extra funding for MyWorld had been secured.

Where does this leave the people who worked there? There are several other Scottish developers, and a good chance that many will find jobs there. The Scottish Parliament is also looking into tax breaks for games firms, going against the policy south of the border. But there is a real risk that many of the team will move overseas, hitting the development prospects here. Events have moved quickly, with three major developers (including the UK’s own Blitz) setting up recruitment events in Dundee to attract former Realtime staff. Project MyWorld has apparently seen many of its staff re-hired – at last count 23 – with every intention of that project being finished. Eutechnyx is looking to establish a new studio in Dundee, and there are still other companies there hoping to continue. The views of staff at the company have emerged, often critical of how the projects were managed and whether the lack of firm deadlines meant that time and investment were badly handled.

For me, the name APB will always mean the 1980s Atari coin-op (and its subsequent home conversion). That took a comedy cops & robbers style chase game and earned a lot of money. Realtime’s APB was always going to be a difficult sell, and it fell a long way short of expectations.

Games Coming Out June 2010 for PC

Alpha Protocol
Alpha Protocol

Games Coming Out June 2010 for PC by Honorabili

May was pretty weak when it came to game releases. June looks like a much better month.

Alpha Protocol the Espionage RPG, June 1

Typical Tom Clancy style of storyline game but let’s see how they pull off mixing a stealth game with an RPG. So long as my guy can still be seen when standing in front of the enemies it won’t be ruined.

The Sims 3 Ambitions Expansion Pack, June 1

Expansion pack for Sims 3 which adds jobs including Firefighter, Fashionista, Infamous Inventor, Defiant Detective, Shameless Scultor, Doctor, Ghost Hunter, and more.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, June 8

It’s obvious that this game will come out, considering the live-action movie for Prince of Persia is also coming out around this time.

Transformers: War For Cybertron, June 22

This looks like a really well made mod for Unreal Tournament 3 based on Transformers. If you can handle fast FPSs it would probably be worth checking out.

Darksiders, June 24

This looks like a God of War clone based on you taking on the role of War from the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior, June 24

Looks like it could be fun if you like blowing people’s heads off with a rifle some distance away. Just always concerned as to how a sniper will keep running away after the mission is a success or a failure. I really enjoyed how hard it was to do in that in the campaign mode of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1. Let’s see if they can pull of a whole game based on that.

All Points Bulletin, June 29

Think of Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row mixed together with an online persistent world MMO with no subscription fee and that’s what this game is. We’ll see how it does. Guild Wars has done really well with that business model.

Note: This game has nothing to with APB, the 80s cop driving/shooting arcade game.

Singularity, June 29

This game looks like a mix of Bioshock with STALKER. The character seems to have godlike powers such as rewinding time and recreating matter from nothing. It could be good. STALKER is too hard and realistic for most people. If they could add the action aspect without the stupid picking up audio tapes aspect of Bioshock, this game could be a winner.

ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead, June 29

This is a standalone game expansion based on ArmA II which does not require it to play. This is an fps and action simulator game with an improved strategic aspect to the fighting over the typical killfest of other similar games (Modern Warfare, etc.).

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, June 29

A must for fans of Harry Potter and these series of LEGO based games.