“‘Ark’ was kind of a surprise to us in some ways; the ways the players played the game, in particular,” Jesse Rapczak, co-founder of Studio Wildcard, told Variety. “One thing we enjoyed watching was the emergent play. They were playing (‘Ark’) like it was a massively multiplayer online game, but without the official structure. They were creating a meta with different servers. We thought that would be interesting to create, to make a mechanic that supported that. “
So the developers started working on creating a new game that would support a massive world where players could play with everyone.
“There were no boundaries where you could go,” he said. “We didn’t want to have menus that you had to worry about to get where you wanted to go.”
The result was “Atlas,” a pirate massively multiplayer game that is about 1,200 the size of “Ark” and can host 40,000 players spread out across its 700 unique islands and sprawling 45,000-square kilometer ocean. The game was unveiled during the Game Awards last week.
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“We really worked hard to make ‘Atlas’ a seamlessly connected world where you could move about freely if you have enough resources, time, and energy,” Rapczak said. “It’s not procedurally generated it. There are 700 unique islands spread across the map with different biomes. There’s also sort of story islands and PVE islands where some of the game’s backstory and lore and crazy mythological creatures can be found.”
The game, which will sell for $29.99 while still in early access (but more later), hits the computer on Dec. 13 and then is coming to Xbox One exclusively in early 2019. Eventually, the game’s price will rise to $60.
Sticking with the theme, sailing is the primary method of travel, which also happens to be a great solution for stitching together such a large world and allowing players to move around it without noticeable load times.
“We have different sizes of land masses like tiny islets, medium and very large islands,” Rapczak said. “You might have an island the size of an ‘Ark’ server. And moving around the world, in between those islands, is not something that’s easy to do. Sailing wears down your ship. You also have your crew and your crew needs to neat. Non-player characters you have to pay with gold. Don’t take care of them and they might mutiny.
“So there are all of those crazy mechanics to help you traverse the world.”
While the game is based on a single-server concept, the developers plan to launch “Atlas” with a server in North America and another in Europe for latency reasons.
The game will feel and play a lot like “Ark,” he added. “It’s made from the same DNA, so there’s a lot of stuff in there from ‘Ark’ like the building mechanics and unlocking new things you can do. “
He added that the team did spend a lot of time greatly improving on some areas, like combat.
The game has players building drydocks and then slowing creating the ship of their dreams, building up from a dinghy to a galleon, one plank at a time. Every piece of the ship is placed by the player, allowing them to figure out not just how the ship looks, but where things are like the gunports and sails. Once built, players can recruit other gamers to join their ship, or they can hire a computer-controlled crew. As with “Ark,” the world of “Atlas” is almost entirely up for grabs. That means someone can steal the ship right out from under you, plunder your booty and take away your pets and crew. Player customization includes things like per-pixel tattoo designing, dynamic hair growth, and real-time aging systems.
And the game isn’t just about sailing, it’s also built out with a robust melee system that includes parries, blocks, and dodges, character motion, shields, stunning, strikes, attacks and a slew of weapons.
Here are some other facts straight from the developers:
● Claim What’s Yours – Form a company, claim territory and apply taxation and behavior rules to that which you own –be a benevolent governor, a feudal lord, or a ruthless dictator. Territory ownership is visualized on your dynamic zoomable world map, with Fog of War obscuring uncharted regions and Shroud of War hiding enemy territories out of sight range. Contest other government’s ownership of land, structures, or ships to expand your empire! Top Spheres of Influence on the Official ATLAS’ are visualized in real-time the PlayATLAS.com. Design your own custom flag per-pixel and apply them to your claims, to become famous (or infamous)!
● Creatures Great and Small – More than 50 creatures at launch varying from breedable utilitarian farm animals and shoulder mounted parrots and monkeys that offer unique buffs, all the way to magical mermaids and gigantic sea monsters of legend. Creatures can be found in their logical regions, but take skill and tactics to tame using new mechanics, while gaining the most benefit and fertility from their natural biomes. Ferry these temperamental creatures across the vast oceans to trade in exotic locales in a virtual Noah’s Ark.
● Freeports to Meet and Greet – Level-capped starter zones allow you to learn the ropes and meet new players in a safe space before you venture out into the great unknown. Where the wind and destiny takes you beyond that, is up to the gods!
● Build Your Empire – Overhauled building systems include automatic foundational elevation adjustment, dynamic tile type swapping, improved snap detection and previewing, integrated plumbing systems, per-pixel-paintable everything, beast-of-burden harness attachments for field-gun and carriages, and much more! Survival systems include, among other things, vitamins benefits and deficiencies, with recipes, cooking skills, and varying ingredient qualities.
● Powerful Mod and Server Functionalities – Want to build a World War II Spitfire? Or a Flying Fortress bomber with fully walkable interior and gun stations that carries troops loaded with machine guns and rocket launchers? How about a tank? An aircraft carrier to play out the Battle of Midway on an expansive scale? How about an Arcadian Steampunk airship floating through a cloud-world? These examples, and much more, are provided with the “Atlas” Dev Kit, where you can effectively make whatever large-scale MMO action game you want to see happen, all supported by the database-driven network technology that powers “Atlas.” Unofficial “Atlas'” can be of any size and configuration, while a visual map tool lets server hosts lay out their own complete custom world of islands, continents, terrain features, spawns, resources, hazards, underwater zones, dynamic weather, biome configurations, and ecologies. There is an infinite number of other configurable features, all dynamically streamed to the client