Back in January, we learned the fate of The Repopulation: The Hero Engine team from Idea Fabrik would be taking over development of the game from its original developers at Above & Beyond following a lengthy dispute between the two that took the alpha offline for more than a year. It returned online and relaunched on Steam earlier this spring, promising an update in May after major issues were discovered in the code.
And here we are now in May, and the new team says the staging build is nearly live. The latest dev post promises that the “core vision” is still in line with A&B’s, will stay away from pay-to-win, will expand “to include multiple play styles” for PvE and PvP, will consider new and different rulesets, and will lay the groundwork for “future expansions.” The update is dubbed Condorslug, “first and foremost the start of the renovation to replication within every game system, at its very core this is about bug fixing and trying to get things in a much better place.” Expect new shaders, redone heightmaps, new textures, and yes, wipes.
Oh yeah, and expect to shell out some dough too, as the studio is “aiming to re-enable the purchasing of higher tiers” once the dust has settled.
How’s The Repopulation coming along? Well, it’s coming. Last week, the newly installed Idea Fabrik developers discussed how the planned May update is progressing with bug fixes and a smoother pipeline for actually identifying, reporting, and correcting issues. The big news, however, is the new shaders that provide a big visual upgrade to the game world (though the team notes flora isn’t in — you can check out the before and after shots below).
“The lore team is looking at shoring up a few things, getting a consistency and looking at future ideas,” Hobble writes. “A new launcher is being built, this may or may not make 15.10.1, but there are a few inconsistencies to do with Steam/Stand Alone that we wish to sort out.”
And Hero Engine also brought back online the EU server, which was taken down for database issues yesterday.
When The Repopulation returned under new management, it was an understood fact that it would be a while before the game got its first patch. And it’s true, it will be a while. Specifically, it’ll be about five more weeks according to the latest update from the development team. That’s how long it’s going to take to sort out all of the back-end issues players aren’t seeing and gently massage the code into cooperating and improving.
If you were thinking it would take longer than five weeks, well, this is pretty much good news. And there is definitely a lot of stuff being adjusted behind the scenes, including combat, the UI, new player tutorials, pathing, and texture files. How good the first few patches under the game’s new ownership will be remains to be seen, but it does seem pretty clear that the game’s improvement is being taken seriously.
Idea Fabrik’s internal dev team published a dev update on The Repopulation this morning, following the game’s relaunch last week. The studio says it’s still working on verifying old backer accounts and reminds players that the game hasn’t been updated yet — this is just a copy of the game from fall 2015 when it all came down. Expect wipes to correct the economy at some point as well.
The really bad news is that the new team has discovered a slew of existing problems it needs to fix before it can move on with new content.
“We have been digging in to the zoning/transition issues, which have provided an insight to many other issues, this includes but is not limited to a lot of information that is being replicated which doesn’t need to be, and some major issues with server drops, memory leaks and performance are being extrapolated by this. What this means for us is… We have to go over all replicated information, sort out what should be server side and client side, then apply all of the fixes without borking up other interconnected systems at the same time. As example of this is when players go over zone lines: ALL of your Account information is replicated from one area to the next, this includes for example, your inventory. So the more information on your character, the longer it will take to transition. This is not a straight forward and easy changing a 1 to a 0.”
The Repopulation is indeed on track to resume early access later this month as planned.
“Servers will be opening up to all current players on the 12th of this month,” Idea Fabrik COO Sarrene’ Grant told forumgoers this afternoon.
“All backers and current players of The Repopulation can enter the game starting at midnight EST on Sunday. Downloads are open, as some of you already know. Your game account login will be exactly the same. Nothing has changed there. We wanted to make sure that everyone that bought and supported the game had the same access as before. If you forgot your password you can use the link provided on the launcher to reset your password. If you have any problems logging in please feel free to post that up. A ticket system will be in place after the transfer is complete. We will be turning The Repopulation sales on at Steam between the 19th and the 26th of this month depending on how the servers hold up to the Alpha testing.”
Idea Fabrik is forging onward in its plan to re-start The Repopulation game servers, forum posts from the last couple of weeks suggest. The company told fans that it’s been working on transferring data to Steam.
“Once the transfers are complete, we’re still going to have the usual spin-up time and make sure that there isn’t any data/bit-rot, making sure that everything is working correctly, etc.,” Community Manager Christopher Riley told backers a week ago in response to questions about when the test server would resume service. “So as of this post it should be about 2 weeks after the transfers.”
Another post indicates that “a few” of the 10-man team in fact worked on The Repopulation prior to its ownership transfer.
Still reeling over the news that The Repopulation has been acquired by Idea Fabrik and will launch in Hero Engine later this quarter after all? Or more inclined to join our commenters who say they won’t give the new owners another chance, given their history with the original studio?
Maybe Idea Fabrik can change your mind. The newly installed developer team — which isn’t the same sub-team that works on the engine itself and is in fact partly made up of Triad Game Studios developers — began introducing itself on The Repopulation forums over the weekend, including COO Sarrene’ Grant, Tehnical Director “Hobble,” and Writer/Community Rep Christopher Riley. Grant tackles the pay-to-win concerns straightaway.
“Our aim is NOT to turn this into a Pay to Win game. Again, we are gamers as well. We have not gotten to that point yet, but the goal will be to follow the same plans that ABT had. […] This is a re-release of the Alpha version, least to start. This is not a full or post release.”
The after-hours Friday revelation that The Repopulation is relaunching early this year took a lot of our readers by surprise. The much-wanted sandbox MMORPG had been offline for over a year, and though updates had been scarce, we’d been told Above & Beyond was using Fragmented’s profits to re-home Repop in its new engine, so there was grumbling at the lack of transparent progress, but not panic.
Now we know more of the story: that Fragmented wasn’t making enough to make Unreal-based Repop a reality, and in order to get the MMORPG to market and make original backers happy, A&B says the clear choice was to offload the game to Idea Fabrik, the maker of Hero Engine.
Some folks seem OK with this unusual turn of events; they wanted the game either way, and Idea Fabrik does have a vested interest in seeing a solid game come of its engine (and is apparently in good financial health now). Other readers? Let’s just say that there’s been a lot of ranting from all corners — people who feel they were lied to about the nature of the games, people who don’t believe Idea Fabrik can finish the game properly, and people who are just soured on the whole experience of watching A&B give up its dream.
Where do you stand on it, once Idea Fabrik actually gets it out the door? Will you give The Repopulation another chance under its new owners?
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Above & Beyond announced that Hero Engine company Idea Fabrik has acquired all rights to its indie sci-fi sandbox MMORPG The Repopulation and will be relaunching the game — in the Hero Engine — with a new content patch sometime in Q1 2017. The game had originally raised $230,000 in Kickstarter funds in 2012 and 2014 and made it to early access in 2014, only to become entangled in a financial drama with Idea Fabrik over a year ago, which kept the game offline for a year while A&B built Fragmented with the goal of porting Repop to Unreal. The port will no longer be happening, but A&B is still working on Fragmented’s console version. Definitely check out our whole article on what’s up — we’ve got an exclusive interview with A&B there as well.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last few weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!
“Great News! The Repopulation is coming back!” — or so said a hastily deleted tweet from Idea Fabrik last night, which you might have missed since the blog post titled Idea Fabrik Acquires The Repopulation was also pulled down.
Now, that announcement has been confirmed: Idea Fabrik has acquired all rights to The Repopulation from Above & Beyond and will be relaunching the game — in the Hero Engine — with a new content patch sometime in Q1 2017. A&B will continue work on Fragmented as it rolls toward a console release.
Let me give you a little backstory on the whole Repopulation saga.
HeroEngine owner Idea Fabrik announced yesterday that it has made “several positive adjustments” in regard to its ongoing financial situation – namely, “reducing server costs, finish[ing] R&D and [its]development plan, complet[ing] some very important testing and code review, and continu[ing] to work on several other special things behind the scenes.” These new changes apparently include the resumption of HeroCloud subscription sales (“[w]e will be completing a special Thank You to our community, then normal sales will return on 31 January”), a new website design, DirectX 11 support, and a new “market” to vend assets.
Idea Fabrik did not allude to The Repopulation’s Above and Beyond, which it had obliquely and seemingly unjustly accused of failing to pay royalties last month, except to say, “Not all of these have been resolved and the primary cause of the partial shutdown is still being worked on.” The concomitant financial issues and server outages drove The Repopulation offline in December and caused serious concerns about its future.
The Repopulation’s JC Smith told forumgoers that HeroEngine’s announcement had “nothing to do with” A&B’s.
The Repopulation’s struggles with the money-troubled Hero Engine service have led to game delays, server downtime, and suspended development, and the drama continues today.
Earlier this week, an Idea Fabrik Hero Engine rep seemingly defied confidentiality agreements by telling its community that its revenue problems are the result of a single client refusing to pay royalties for two months.
“Starting in September 2015, one of our clients has refused to pay our royalties amounting to 30% of their revenues. Idea Fabrik/IFS is a small company, and our funding relies on those royalties and our VC’s. After two months of not getting our royalties paid, we were faced with difficult decisions. And after additional two months without being able to find a solution, we had to shut down their live game servers. Please note that we still hope for a positive outcome for all the players and fans of the game – that’s why their development servers have always been and are still up and running, so they can continue to work on their game.”
The unfortunate saga of The Repopulation continues this week, as Above & Beyond Technologies announced that it was pulling the plug on the alpha servers — at least for the time being.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce today that development The Repopulation has been temporarily suspended and alpha servers are expected to go offline on Wednesday, December 23rd,” the game’s lead developer posted. “As most of you are already aware, Idea Fabrik (the creators of Hero Engine) has been going through some turmoil over the past month which has caused us to temporarily suspend sales of the game. Servers have remained online, but their ongoing costs are preventing us from keeping them online indefinitely. As a result, The Repopulation’s alpha servers will be going offline on Wednesday until this situation is resolved.”
Above & Beyond said that this did not signal the end of the game but admitted that it might be a while before everything gets sorted out. The idea is to save money by shutting the servers down while Hero Engine hopefully gets fixed, then bringing The Repopulation back online once that happens.