It might have been four separate times that the producer giving a walkthrough for CrimeCraft uttered the words "It's not an MMO." Vogster wants to be sure that they don't isolate themselves and create a niche when, in actuality, their game shouldn't be in one. They don't want to cater just to the World of Warcraft junkies - their game isn't for them. They can play it, that's not in question, but CrimeCraft is more in line with GunZ: The Duel and Combat Arms than it is with Warhammer: Online.
The meeting got off to a strange start. Adding the word "craft" onto the end of your game really only has a few connotations, and it's likely no mistake that it shares half a name with the world's biggest MMORPG. But it's not an MMO, I was told again and again. It's a "PWNS," or a "Persistent World Next-Gen Shooter." As he talked, I thought about how silly it was to make up a genre in the first place, let alone one with "Next-Gen" in the title, seeing as it's won't always be a "Next-Gen" game. In fact, within the next few years it will be a "Last Gen" game, making their acronym "PWLNS," which sounds completely ridiculous.
But that doesn't matter, it's nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking. What does matter is that CrimeCraft does look to take MMORPG gameplay on a different route, and make it something that anyone can pick up and play without worrying about the mechanics of an MMO. CrimeCraft is set in Sunrise City. After the world's economy crashes, crime rages out of control on a global scale, and many officials, in desperation, erect walls around their cities to protect their people. This creates two areas to explore: inside the walls and outside the walls. On the inside, it's essentially a hub, where players can trade items, send mail, and make groups. Outside? It's a warzone.
This warzone plays like a typical Unreal Engine third-person shooter with light RPG mechanics. Players can progress from levels 1-50, but the game keeps everything in check. No matter the level, players will still have comparable hitpoints, and it's more about skill than time spent playing. That doesn't mean that playing the game and leveling up don't have their own perks, but they just don't take a priority in CrimeCraft. It also means screaming "get a life!" at players who kill you isn't as valid of a response as it is in Everquest.
There's still a full crafting and upgrading system, with some of the more powerful weapons having up to five upgrade slots. These slots can be filled with upgrades to improve damage or accuracy, improving the character's chances in combat. Even so, the high-end armors only protect the player from around 25% of damage. This means a shotgun blast to the head will still likely drop a level 50 player, even if the shotgun was being wielded by a level one. A bullet is still a bullet, and past the first few levels players will be spending most of their time in large-scale, persistent deathmatch games, leveling up and improving their skill.
Vogster is very excited about the idea of gang warfare, to the point where they plan on having an in-game newspaper which will detail recent events on the game's servers. If your gang member was involved in a large-scale shoot-out, the following day's paper might mention him by name, detailing the attack. It isn't customized for each person - it's per server, meaning everyone has their chance at infamy. But all of these ideas are currently just that - ideas. The newspaper system wasn't actually implemented in the build I saw, and it was hard to really tell if the leveling system mattered in the short time I spent watching the game. On the same note, I didn't actually play the game, so it's hard to tell how good the actual gameplay is.
I wasn't blown away with what I saw, but some of the ideas really do seem genuinely good, and I hope to see them implemented by the time the game is released this summer. There really isn't much in the ways of a PWNS right now, so there's room for more expansion in that market.
God dammit, they've got me saying it now. We'll have more on CrimeCraft closer to release.