Many fans have been confused by the two game modes and frankly, it IS a little confusing, because we didn’t figure everything out from the get go either.
But by now, we have a pretty good picture of how we will operate that and (barring the usual obliteration of plans by their contact with reality) hopefully can explain it a little better. Here is the step by step explanation:
1) Everyone will play ON THE SAME server. So we are not separating the players in any way.
2) Campaign players will basically get the following:
– The ability to buy every item in the game with Nuyen (our in game currency).
– A boost on how much cash and karma they get, as well as a better loot chance.
– A little bit of weighed influence on the plot development – meaning their actions could count slightly more than the others’ actions on the server in calculating what happens with the plot development.
3) The Free-To-Play model will have an additional premium currency (which you buy for real money) and for players under that model some things in the game will be available for this currency only.
4) Buying a subscription in F2P basically adds the ‘boosted karma and cash’ effect to an account and a better chance for interesting loot as well as a slightly weighed influence on plot development, but only temporarily.
Unlike campaign players, they will still operate in the shop under the F2P model, though.
Of course if you have a lifetime premium subscription, you get these advantages for as long as the game is running.
5) If a F2P player wants to enter campaign mode, he buys a campaign box and his character (including all items) is carried over. However, from then on the same restrictions as for any other campaign player apply.
This means campaign players can play with their free to play friends or with other campaigners and the other way round – there is no barrier at all. For those who have donated in a tier which would give them both premium free to play and campaign access, we are looking into either simply giving two accounts (so you could give one away) or allowing you to flag characters within your account as being either/or, as the presumed barrier between servers does not exist anymore.
Now what happens if all these guys play together?
Well the only issue that may affect other players negatively is in competing in PvP. We haven’t completely made up our mind on how to handle that yet, because it may not be a big issue. Since the ‘premium’ items in the campaign will still be rare and hard to earn and since we make sure these are taken into account when matching players in PvP, they may be a non-issue. The other team may have acquired those items under the free to play model or may just be strong enough to counter the effects. The point here is to make sure matchmaking takes item power into account, so there are no unfair advantages.
In terms of co-op we currently think it can only be advantageous to everyone if well-equipped characters join the team, as there is no ‘xp stealing’ involved in the game since you don’t get karma for individual kills, but for succeeding in the missions as a team.
The most severe restriction is on moving items between characters to prevent campaigners ‘farming’ premium items and selling them off to free to play players. The answer here is simple: Premium items cannot not be given to characters if they belong to the ‘other’ business model. As we expect different cash levels (campaigners may be more affluent), cash will also not be traded, which incidentally also discourages professional cash farmers – though you can always sell your item to the fixer, of course. Professional cash farming (for those who don’t know it) is often done by involuntary labor (read modern-day-slaves) and we have no intention of supporting that.
So I hope that clarifies the whole affair a bit.
Donations vs Pre-Sales
We had planned to close down the donations and open up pre-sales, but we still have a number of people willing to contribute to the good cause and again, we don’t see any harm in allowing that. More backers mean more swag to produce, which lowers the price per item, leaving more money for production. We will keep it open for now and probably throughout the summer.
Some of you may have heard that we are moving Jagged Alliance Online to Steam with what is already a sort of limited campaign model. This means we will switch to a completely free PvP mode and NO premium currency (so anyone can get any item in the shop by playing and amassing in-game cash) and a Content-Only PvE Campaign Pack. This will help us gather some data on the behaviors under the two models, even though it isn’t exactly the same as Shadowrun.
We have also had our first review session of the full campaign book – a whopping 200 pages of action, intrigue and LOCKDOWN. It is shaping up quite well and we have decided to add story snippets to SRO by means of the ever popular audio logs/computer data/diary pages that you may remember from the games of yore such as System Shock. They will be less of a gameplay hint and more of a background for people who like that sort of thing – in other words: roleplayers. There is just too much great story and individual drama in there to let it go to waste and we wanted some of that for SRO even without being able to do prolonged cut-scenes or voice audio.
We also have started a little side project, because we were very happy about the way PvP is shaping up. It began as a small game design for our tech-demo, but has since progressed into a fully-fledged project we are doing with another part of the team.
It will be a turn-based, short session PvP arena game with a number of twists, set in a steam/dieselpunk world where AEther can be extracted from the stratosphere. We will keep you posted on that and no worries – this is not slowing down SRO development. As it shares the same codebase it actually helps us tackle some things earlier than anticipated and makes SRO more thoroughly tested.
See you in the Shadows