With APB Reloaded making its triumphant return under the flag of GamersFirst and Reloaded Productions, Staff Writer Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland sat down with the team to talk about the rebuilding process
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I'm sure everyone remembers the disastrous launch of All Points Bulletin which ultimately culminated in APB's doors shutting a mere few months later. The game itself, however, showed great promise, so when GamersFirst picked up the rights to APB and decided to relaunch it in 2011 as a free-to-play MMO under the name "APB Reloaded," I was very curious indeed. F2P models just seem to work very well with MMOFPS games, and given APB's incredible spread of player customization, a microtransaction model simply makes sense.
Of course, GamersFirst knew this when they purchased All Points Bulletin back in 2010, but instead of just "flipping" it with a sloppy F2P system, Reloaded Productions (a developer subsidiary of GamersFirst) decided to take an extra year to really notch up the quality of the game. The end result of their hard work would be APB Reloaded, and to celebrate the game's launch, ZAM Staff Writer Paul "LockColeMA" Cleveland sat down with the team to talk about what went into rebuilding this MMOFPS and what players can expect from this newly reborn MMO. He spoke to Rahul Sandil (RS), SVP of Marketing and Business and Development, Myra Widodo (MW), Producer of APB Reloaded, and Bjorn Book-Larsson (BBL), COO and CTO of GamersFirst, as well as CEO of Reloaded Productions.
ZAM: So after months of hard work and testing, APB: Reloaded has launched! How did it go? What's the team feeling? Does it seem like you get a break or does the real work begin now?
Myra Widodo: The launch has been really good for us so far. We're currently seeing a little over a million unique first time log-ins since launch, and our registered user mark is more than three million. The servers have been stable, and the new Fight Club game mode seems to be very popular with both the hardcore and new players. Fight Club maps also have the benefit of being playable on 32-bit systems, since they are so much smaller than the open world mission systems.
Bjorn Book-Larsson: The team is very proud to have hit this milestone, but the work is nowhere near done. Up until now everything has been about building a strong foundation for future development. The new matchmaking system, improved driving, shooting and progression took us a long way toward achieving that goal and next up we are completing plans for Clan Warfare, Racing District, the Asylum and Turf Wars.
Rahul Sandil: Not to mention that we've launch a retail edition that's going to be in stores. We're continuing to see a constant uptake in new users taking advantage of the bundled game.
Myra Widodo: The beta testing process and our dedicated players really deserve some of the credit here as well. In particular, The San Paro City Investigators (our team of player moderators) has been invaluable in testing matchmaking, district mechanics and our Fight Club playmode while it was on our test server.
ZAM: Could you summarize the beta testing process? How has the game evolved since testing first began?
BBL: Like anything, it all happened in stages. We first wanted to address the key game features and gameplay that needed our attention. Things that made the player-base of the original version stop supporting the game. Then we made a significant number of changes and upgrades to the game in the areas of driving, shooting and progression, and released it to a small closed beta audience. We knew we were on the right track when we had roughly 300,000 closed beta applications! As we improved the backend hardware and continued to balance the game, we let in more and more players in waves. Of course once we opened the floodgates a few months ago we realized we had much more work to do to improve the matchmaking, district select process and ranking systems. That and creating a reliable system to address game exploiters was the main focus of the open beta, and testing new content.
The sheer amount of work involved took a lot longer than expected, so we had to postpone much of the new content we originally wanted to be in place for launch. Fight Club is a great first step, since the maps and systems will be used by the Clan Warfare system, and also provided a new experience to coincide with the live launch.
MW: The change-over from open beta to live wasn't too strenuous on us, or our players. All the big-ticket items, like player registration, the Armas Marketplace and our backend hardware were near bullet-proof. We just needed to integrate the new playmodes and roll it out.
ZAM: What are some of the features you feel really set APB apart from the other MMOs on the market today?
RS: The overall setting is unique to the Free2Play MMO world. If you want to play a military shooter, then sure you have lots of options. If you want to play something that has Orcs or Elves, or something out in space then you too have a lot of options to choose from. But if you want a cops versus robbers shooter that lets you drive and shoot in an open-world environment, then we're really the only game in town. Not to mention that APB Reloaded still has one of the most robust character creation systems in any MMO. And it's Free2Play !!!
MW: I'd have to say, for me, it's the Witnessing game mechanic. Sure, some games will let you PvP right off, or in special free-for-all zones, but I don't know of another game that lets you, as an Enforcer, start a direct PvP mission against another player. Plus, you get to take HIS stuff as opposed to getting a reward from an NPC. For an APB Reloaded player, taking something by force is much sweeter than having it given to you.
BBL: I find myself spending a lot of time in Fight Club these days. Deathmatch in a vertical environment like in 'Beacon' is a really neat change-up from the proven gameplay of APB Reloaded. Being able to work up floor-to-floor can be very intense, and the added threat of players shooting from above and below makes for a frantic fight. It's all pretty intense stuff.