There aren't exactly few online games these days, but it's interesting to see so many great ideas coming to life. Purge is a cyberpunk-ish online FPS / RPG that offers an exciting futuristic environment where two forces are fighting: those who swear to technology, and those who favor magic. Richard Cheung of Freeform Interactive agreed to answer our questions about this title, which we will hopefully have a preview of in not too long. Enjoy!
Starting off, who are you, what was your role in the development of Purge and what did your team develop in the past?
My name is Richard Cheung, but I am normally known as Hap. Maybe after Purge is done, I will have my name legally changed. I am the head monkey and programmer at Freeform Interactive LLC. In a past life, I created a Quake-mod called FvF with a mod team, then called Freeform Interactive.
When Freeform Interactive LLC was formed as a legal company, we ran a medium-large network of websites. It was good until the dot-com market crashed. During that time, we created 4 freeware games to promote the sites. It worked, before our ISP was shutdown, we made six million page impressions a month. Pretty good, eh?
During the "web days" we were registered RealArcade Lithtech (aka Lithtech ESD) developers. I think you can imagine why stopped going down that route. We recently worked on a Lithtech game which I am not a liberty to talk about. It was something of a collaborative project with our publisher and other development studios. Now we have our own Lithtech license and we are doing Purge.
Which platforms is Purge headed to? Can you introduce the game briefly? How far in development are you and have you got a release date set yet?
As an online game, Purge is PC only. It is uniquely different than the games out in the market. It isn't a Doom clone, Counter-Strike clone, or based in WW2. Purge is an online, hybrid FPS/RPG. The storyline is clearly explained at http://www.purgeonline.net/story.asp
Our host's server has recently relocated. Now that our Internet presence is restored, we will be entering Phase 1 of the closed beta test very soon. You can check for updates at the Purge Forum. The game will not be released until the closed beta is complete. There will be a public Multiplayer Test that will be the result of all the bug fixes, net code optimizations, and game balancing done in the beta. Under no circumstances will our Multiplayer Test suffer the lag or bugs that have plagued other games, which will remain nameless.
Being partially a FPS, I guess people will like to know what sort of firing power will you have in the game. Any special weapons?
A player creates a Player Character by selecting his class and attributes. You distribute available points into seven different attributes, known as the DETAILS system: Dexterity, Energy, Tenacity, Agility, Intelligence, Life, and Strength. Your weapons depend on your class and attributes. Each class has a given set of four potential weapons and three skills. There are no repeated weapons in Purge, making 32 uniquely different weapons. Which ones you actually have and their effectiveness depend on how you set your DETAILS.
DETAILS allows you to personalize your class, effectively making a "subclass" which is ideal to your playing style. This is better explained by example. Let's look at the Android. One of his weapons is the XL5. XL5 is a .50 caliber Magnum/AE SMG with an under-the-barrel camera. Being an Android, he doesn't need to look through a scope. The camera offers an obstructed, variable zoom. With the XL5, the Android is equally good at "burst" sniping and as CQC. If you wanted to snipe or fire very accurately, you would place most of your points into Dexterity. If you wanted to
"run-and-gun" or rush, you would make a character with high Agility and high Life.
There are no useless attributes in Purge. For every class, there are significant advantages and play style changes for emphasis in any attribute. Intelligence controls which skills you have and how well they work. Energy controls how often you can reuse that skill.
Take our Android example again. Androids have engineering based skills. At the lowest end of the skill tree is the Time Bomb skill; it is meant for demolishing constructions and clearing rooms. The most difficult skill for the Android is the Tessela Coil, which is a powerful, automated defense. If you wanted a "Demolitions Droid" -- able to the Time Bomb as often as possible, you could place all your attribute points into Energy. But if you wanted a "Construction Droid", you would have place points in Intelligence.
What is the FPS / RPG ratio in Purge?
It is about 60% FPS and 40% RPG. The RPG elements are mainly in character customization, NPCs, experience points, and leveling. There is no "continuous-turn" aka "fake real-time" combat in Purge -- where combat is mathematically generated. That is one of the reasons we created Purge. We found that style of gaming tedious and dull. You might as well turn on "auto-attack" and watch TV. Purge is about "I did it" not "my level 50 character did all the work".
What about NPC, will Purge include them and will they finally have some decent AI?
Purge will have bots and NPCs. Since your question is about NPCs, I'll explain those. It is one those super-unique things in Purge, as if Purge wasn't original enough. :)
There are some FPS games, where players really need a Medic. And they scream "Medic!" "Medic!" Medic!" continuously. Then another person joins in. "I need a Medic!" Then you find yourself saying, "I need Ammo!" This gets really old, really fast.
In Purge players can make characters, with the correct class and DETAILS, to heal others or re-supply their ammo. In most games, if your team doesn't have such a character or that player is only interested in healing himself, your team is pretty much screwed. In Purge, there is an alternative, called the NPC.
There are a total of four NPCs, the Chosen has two and the Order has two. The Order has the Medic (heals and repairs armor) and the Quartermaster (re-supplies ammunition). The Chosen has the Cleric (heals and repairs armor) and the Runemaster (re-supplies magic components). Friendly NPCs are to be guarded and opposing NPCs are a team goal to seek out and kill. Teamwork is encouraged, massive amounts of experience points are awarded to the entire team for killing opposing NPCs.
Which multiplayer support is expected, LAN and in particular Internet?
What do you think about companies, especially with MMORPG, asking to pay for multiplayer services?
Purge is the first game signed to use All Seeing Eye's technology. ASE has an excellent reputation among gamers and it will allow Purge to smoothly support LAN and Internet gaming with an in-game browser.
I'm not against the MMORPG business model. I think the number of people willing to pay-to-play is quite small compared to the amount of MMORPGs coming out. If you think the gaming business and gaming media business :) is hard to make buck, wait until all the planned MMORPGs come out. Some are obviously vaporware, but of those that are released -- they won't all make it. And with prices at $13 a month, there are very few people who are willing to subscribe to more than one MMORPG. Here's my prediction: I see another crash coming.
That being said, Purge could be made into a semi-MMOFPS. My vision for this would be more to allow server operators to run their own network of Purge servers and store character attributes into a main server. The point of this is obvious, to keep online playing free. We will see if and how many server operators actually want this after the Purge is released.
Why should I pay $[put retail price here] for Purge?
Purge is a highly original and innovative game. Players always complain about the clones flooding the market. Purge is a clone of nothing. This isn't another "Counter-Strike set in WW2 fighting hordes of Doom monsters."
Purge is the first FPS that involves an intricate RPG-style character creation. It offers extremely high replay value, once you mastered your Mage and gotten bored of her, you modify the Mage or play a whole different class. The possibilities are almost endless. Additionally, the two opposing sides in Purge are not merely mirror images of each other. The Chosen and Order have completely different classes with different play-styles, weapons, and skills.
Nowadays, it looks like everyone has some better 3d Hardware everyday, what do you think about this technology madness? What will be Purge's system requirements?
Lithtech Talon powers Purge. On the best parts of Talon is it allows highly detailed indoor areas and huge outdoor seemly integrated on the same map. For all this flexibility, Talon has very low system requirements to play at a decent frame rate, compared to other engines. Our targeted minimum system specs: P3-500, 128MB RAM, GeForce2 MX (or equiv.) -- is one of the main reasons we chose Talon.