Crimecraft: Bleedout Expansion Interview
by Bryan King, OnRPG Journalist
Answered by Executive Producer Michael Mendheim
I recently had to chat with Crimecraft developer Vogster Entertainment about its newest Bleedout expansion, and how it’s all been going so far. The episodic releases of content have meant a surge of new and returning players alike, so OnRPG turns its spotlight towards the current state of the game, and July’s major update.
OnRPG: Hey Michael, for those who aren’t familiar with you, please introduce yourself to readers.
My name is Michael Mendheim and I'm Executive Producer of CC: Bleedout. Some past games I've produced / directed include, Robocalypse, BattleTanx, Army Men, Def Jam and Mutant League Football.
OnRPG: Is there a backstory to Crimecraft that players should know about?
In 2012, a catastrophic event known as “The Bleedout” occurred. The world’s oil wells suddenly and mysteriously ran dry. In less than a year, society had devolved 200 years as power plants ceased to function, government power waned, modern technology failed, and lawless gunmen seized power.
Out of this chaos emerged Sunrise City as an independent city state among the wastelands. Rebuilt by a tenuous agreement between six of the city’s biggest criminal organizations, Sunrise City maintains a façade of normalcy through its puppet government, the Municipality. This political system guards the citizens from the numerous outside threats that wish to destroy everything Sunrise City is, consisting of Reunification US Military Squadrons to money hungry mercenaries controlled by the remnants of society’s major corporate powers.
OnRPG: Give us a quick rundown about what Bleedout has introduced to the game.
With the release of Bleedout we introduced a wealth of new content and changes to the game. Here's a quick overview:
The Bleedout Campaign delivers 10 weeks of episodic content to Players and tells the story of the Bleedout. Each episode delivers about 2.5 hours of PvE content (Players can also play cooperatively). Comicbook style cinematics open and close each episode which is illustrated by an all-star lineup of comic artists including, Tim Bradstreet, Ben Templesmith, Howard Chaykin, Sanford Green and Nathan Fox amongst others.
The New Age of Ruin is a complete overhaul of the art direction of our three major community areas (Downtown, Oceanside and Midtown). This is a radical transformation to provide the perfect ambiance to the Bleedout Campaign -- an artistic style that represents a gritty, near future, urban setting.
The Reputation system gives the Players an overall cumulative stat that measures their progress. Player's earn points for PvP Combat, wealth, character progress, leadership (Gangs), special achievements and time in game. Players can monitor how well they are doing by viewing the Reputation Leaderboards.
New maps include, Belly Street, a smaller, close quarter combat arena, Deckard Harbor, a dense maze of walkways in the port district, Municpal Bank, a heavily guarded financial fortress for the ultimate PvP robbery, and Maxym Alley, a small, intense map with few places to hide.
As with every patch and major release, our community is instrumental in helping drive development, and we’ve added multitudes of Player requests, such as more character customization options, refinements to character professions and skills, new playmodes, new weapon modification kits, new AUG’s, and much more.
OnRPG: The game has converted more fully to a Free2Play model recently, how has this been installed, and what has the response been so far?
Our game uses a hybrid Free2Play model, which includes both expanded memberships and a microtransaction cash shop. We currently offer three membership tiers: Normal, Deluxe, and Premium. The Deluxe and Premium membership tiers offer increased experience, cash, and loot rates. These memberships also received gold bars (our cash currency) each month and receive full access to the Bleedout Campaign.
The reception to both the memberships and cash shop has been great, users can more easily progress to our endgame if they wish and the cash shop allows us to provide some really cool cosmetic clothing for our users.
OnRPG: The new art introduced with Bleedout looks great, can you give readers an explanation about the new comics and voice acting included with the recent Bleedout update?
Each of the episodes focus on a different NPC and themes, which offer different perspectives on the world scenario and different bits of insight into what led to this ultimate Age of Ruin. It felt appropriate to get different popular comic artists to portray those different perspectives, based on their individual unique visual styles, to really showcase the broad variety of characters and agendas. Each artist brought their A-game to the table, and really nailed the different moods and themes assigned to them: Ben Templesmith’s chapter is suitably creepy, Glenn Fabry’s chapter captures the violent LOCK STOCK vibe, Howard Chaykin’s chapter really highlights the sultry smarm of local politics, etc.
Casting the voices for the game was also something we considered carefully, approaching some of the best voices in animation. David Lodge, Yuri Lowenthal, Tom and Dorothy Fahn, and several other talented actors all brought their years of voiceover experience to the table to bring the many NPCs to life. By giving these characters true, recorded voices, the world itself becomes that much richer and more engaging, with each NPC becoming that much more memorable and unique.
OnRPG: Can you give us a rundown of what the clan system offers in a FPS game like Crimecraft?
Our clan system revolves around gangs, and membership in a gang offers a lot of privileges unlike anything you’ve seen in a typical shooter. First of all you get crafting bonuses since the gang can have a “Crafting Specialty” with regular production of needed ingredients. Next, you have Gang Clubs, where gang leaders can create a nightclub with unique vendors and the gang gets a cut of the action. We also have a highly structured Gang Wars system where gangs can challenge each other for bragging rights and cold (in-game) cash.
OnRPG: For those who haven’t played the game, can you give us a detailed look on the game modes that have been in Crimecraft for a long time, as well as the ones being introduced in this month’s patch?
We’ve got a total of 11 game modes (three PvE and 8 PvP) and 17 maps. There’s a lot of variety built in there, and when you add in custom game options like Vampire Mode and Friendly Fire, you can see that we have a big buffet of match choices.
The most popular game types to date have been Robbery and Turf War. In Robbery, two teams battle to steal money from the opposing teams safe. In Turf War, each team fights to control five strategic points on the map.
We’ve also got your standard Shootout and Riot (team deathmatch and every man for himself) modes; a capture the flag mode called Snatch n Grab; and Capture the Zone (a king of the hill mode).
For PvE, we have Stockpile, a solo game mode where users battle bots and bosses to collect loot; Safeguard, a coop mode where users protect a “Defense Core” from wave after wave of AI foes; and Headhunt, a coop mode where users fight through an intense AI defense to kill the enemy boss.
For this update, we added one new PvP game mode and expanded a PvE game mode.
The addition is Assault, Capture, Defend. This game mode randomly places a Core around the map that two teams fight over in three distinct phases. The opening phase has the two teams battling for position until the Core unlocks. Once unlocked, the teams must capture the Core by standing next to it and keeping opponents away from it. Once one team captures it, the other team must release it by standing next to it and clearing out their competition. Once released, the Core is moved to another random spot on the map and the process begins again.
The expanded PvE mode brings Safeguard to our Old Sunrise City Hall map, but with a new twist. Instead of one defense core, the players must defend three cores against waves of AI enemies. It’s an intense change of pace for one of our most popular game modes!
OnRPG: How will players be rewarded via these game modes? I mean, there’s probably the obvious EXP and Money, but what else can players earn?
In addition to XP and money, players earn Reputation, Rank and Power Points based on their performance. Players are ranked in game by a number of leaderboards that are based on a player’s in-game skill and activities.
Reputation is a measure of a player’s commitment to the game, and takes into account all game activities including match play, crafting, job, missions, tournaments, you name it. The players at the top of the Reputation Leaderboard are marked on your lobby minimap by their rank.
Players also gain PvP Rank for each map for simpler ranking of a player’s killing ability.
Finally, each player has a power point rating that covers their equipment, level and their Kill/Death ratio.
OnRPG: In terms of events, what can players expect to see in Crimecraft next?
Our players take part in a large number of events on a daily basis. We have daily and weekly tournaments for our competitive players. These are highly structured ladder tourneys that give out some of the best rewards in the game.
Next we run daily events where a GM sets up a match and offers the winners prizes, usually in-game cash and rare mats. These events are often something fun like “Kill the GM,” a Riot match where whoever kills the GM the most times wins the prize.
These are all in addition to events we run on our forums for screenshots, scavenger hunts and more.
We’re heavy believers in events and try to have them as often as possible and at varied times throughout the day.
OnRPG: How do you guys attempt to create fairness between those who pay for the game, and those who do not?
The Black Market is a great way to pimp out your character, try out different combat builds, and experience additional gameplay content. However, no unbalancing items will ever be offered for purchase through the Black Market… the best items will always be earned through gameplay. While a players gear certainly helps sway the tide of a match, our game is a shooter at its core, so it will ultimately come down to the skill of the player.
OnRPG: A common complaint I came across upon visiting your game as well as the forums was about matchmaking. What plans do you have to address this issue?
Well first I can say we are definitely addressing this issue. I'll lay out the general direction we are headed - our new match-making system will go through a Beta process and our community will help us fine tune it.
On the “play the match” UI the player won’t see the list of active servers anymore. They will be able just to select their preferences and press the “Fight” button. The system will handle everything else and join the player into the appropriate instance.
The player should get more rewards (experience and cash) if they accept more game types and locations and this should be transparent for the players. By doing this we will push most of the players to select the “Quick Play” option and this gives us the possibility to create the teams for the games much faster so the players won’t wait for a next match for too long.
We will also be introducing an ELO system that will attempt to match players against others of equal skill level. If the wait is too long, this system will slowly broaden the ELO rankings allowed to be paired up to begin the match. This ELO rank will increase or decrease after the match in proportion to the ELO rank of those you played with and against as well as the outcome of the match.
OnRPG: What’s your favorite weapon in the game? Favorite Mode?
Ha, that one’s easy! Everyone who knows me knows I live and die by my LMG. I’ve been using it since Beta. Originally I was an Oslo loyalist, but since we brought the Raskolnikov into the game, that’s what I’ve been using. I’ve got a profile set up now with a sniper rifle for some of the bigger maps, but I usually end up getting frustrated and going back to my LMG anyway!
My favorite PvP game mode is probably Turf War. It’s a very tactical mode with great potential for the back and forth momentum swings that I love. For PvE, I really enjoy Headhunt for the frantic action and the solid rewards. It’s possible to rack up a lot of loot containers in Headhunt, plus fighting all the way to the boss can be extremely satisfying, especially when you’re working as a team with other players.
OnRPG: Tell new players why they should get excited about this month’s content update.
One of our Facebook fans said it best when she wrote, “New patch is THA BOMB, son!” This update was based on feedback from our community and that’s been our driving mantra for a long time here at Vogster Entertainment. And it’s not about to stop. We’re already working on our next expansion!
Our Players should be excited about this patch because they designed it. This is the Player Request patch and while we didn't deliver everything we wanted to, we delivered an enormous amount of new content and have hopefully put a smile on our players’ faces. Our dev team is of modest size, they are extremely talented and passionate about the product. They work their butts off and truly care about the Player experience. This team actually loses sleep at night worrying about player issues and negative forum posts. They were dedicated to delivering what our players wanted.
The team is now focused on our major expansion release, which is targeted for this fall. This expansion is going to be bigger than Bleedout and it's going to rock the PC MMORPG Free to Play gaming world. We are just starting to actively involve our community in the design. The team is super-pumped and we can't wait to start talking about it...but not just yet.