Identity is an open-world, cops-and-robbers sandbox, and it isn’t asking you for money. That’s because it was already Kickstarted to the tune of almost $150,000 back in 2015. It’s a real-world MMORPG with a focus on roleplay, economy, and yes, the dark side of human nature.
Developer Asylum Entertainment sat for an AMA on Reddit Friday — here are a few of the highlights:
- Custom server admins can enforce a “new life rule” — when you die and return, it’s as a new character — but the official servers won’t. NPC police won’t patrol the world, but players will be somewhat restricted, such that players can’t raid each other’s homes. “On official servers, we have a stress system in place to discourage random attacks or griefing. […] You won’t be able to shoot from inside your vehicle. We want to discourage random acts of violence for the sake of roleplay.” There will also be safe-zones for player gatherings.
- “Identity’s prison is very much a game within a game.” Players will join factions, attempt prison escape, create weapons, undertake a trial, or just chill out and chat until their time is served. There are no player prison guards (they said they couldn’t make it fun).
- Character customization will be limited to facial features, tats, jewelry, piercings (and presumable gender, skin color, etc.) but not physique, at least not for launch.
- The game will spawn fires for firemen to put out, but players can’t be arsonists. You can, however engage in the illegal drug economy and become your very own Heisenburg. “Many resources will be harvested, but some are available by other means. For example if you want to try your hand at meth production, you’ll need methylamine. To get your hands on a barrel, you’re going to have to take it from a warehouse. You’ll likely end up encountering the police, too.”
- “There isn’t a specific chef career in Identity, but you can craft recipes, cook food, and sell it to other players! Food has a significant purpose in the game, and all players will have to maintain their hunger level or suffer illness, possibly stamina fatigue, or death.” Players can also lease shops all over the gameworld to sell their loot and craftables. “We expect prime locations near city centers to become very valuable, but there’s also an internet site that will help you find products anywhere.”
- There won’t be aircraft — the devs think it would circumvent the social interaction of the economy. There will be cars, but there won’t be real-world brands.
- There is a diurnal cycle (three hours of daylight to one hour of night), with holidays, a combination of seamless transitions and loading screens, and eventually, some sort of natural disasters.
- Want to be a singer? You can do that using concert halls. “We’re really interested in the potential that exists here for talented players to get their names out into the community, even beyond Identity. It would be incredible if a video posted to Youtube of someone singing on stage in Identity managed to jump start their professional singing career in real life.”
- You can already buy into the game — $15 base, $30 if you want beta. It’s expected to launch at $45. “Micro-transactions exist for cosmetics, some vehicles, and some apartments, and will be claimable across all servers (hopefully including private servers). We will not sell weapons.” The devs also noted, “Our current funding was never expected to support the full game development. We’ll bring in external funding as/if needed. Deals have been in the works to support this if necessary for quite some time now.”
- The full game is anticipated to launch in early 2018. The first module (with the town square theater, clothing stores, and other basics) is aiming for Q1 2017, “but it’s tight! We have a lot of work to do and everything’s still as we scheduled it.”
- “We have 3 full-time salary employees as well as 9 freelancers, some of which also work dedicated to Identity. We outsource most of the art to our freelancers which then goes through art direction to keep everything properly styled.” The team also plans to improve communication and PR, but it doesn’t want to be overhyped. “We’ve seen what happens with other indie devs that can’t meet expectations.” There are no plans for DLC.
The developers also discussed the difference between their world and a sandbox like No Man’s Sky.
“Identity and No Man’s Sky couldn’t be further apart in terms of gameplay ambitions. We understand that a sandbox can be a lot of fun, but there needs to be plenty of sand. Players need things to do and, just as important, they need direction. Without direction giving you an idea of what you can do, games come off as confusing and boring. That said, Identity has so many different things to do that you’ll not be bored for a very, very long time. While Identity is made as a sandbox roleplaying game promising freedom, inside that world of choice are tasks you can do; it’s not just a sandbox, it’s a game first with sandbox elements to give roleplayers what they’ve been waiting for. The problem with No Man’s Sky, in my own opinion, was that they focused so much on the sandbox and exploration elements that they didn’t have time to produce an actual game behind it. They built a game on a sandbox, where ours is a sandbox inside a game.”
And here’s the bit you should definitely read if you’re wondering how the aforementioned “stress system” is going to help with griefing, or rather, the impact of griefing:
“From a design perspective, having simple and elegant systems to control bad player behavior was one of the biggest challenges and I think we nailed it. For the player, I would imagine it would be any high-end crimes. Crime is profitable but also difficult and risky; if you fail, you’re going to lose very expensive things when the cops confiscate them. Also, if you’re robbing a bank for example, the police will likely be responding with SWAT which isn’t going to be easy to handle.
“There are a lot of mechanics in place for handling RDM, and they’re done in a manor that should feel pretty intuitive. That said, they can be disabled entirely on private servers if you trust your community. We’ve developed what we call the ‘stress system’ which you’ll find at a medium setting on official servers. By default on official servers, you’re going to have low stress. This determines how much damage you’ll take from gunfire and other players in general; however, some actions or even locations can add or remove stress, and we’ve set it up in a way that discourages unwanted behavior. For example, if someone came to me and pulled a gun on me my stress level would rise quickly. This makes me vulnerable. I could try to run but he might shoot me in the back and it’s going to hurt. Alternatively, I can put my hands up and surrender. If I surrender my stress level drops, but I can’t move and he can rob me. I had the choice to run with risk, or surrender and spare my life at the cost of my cash on hand. The above is one example of how the stress system works, but it’s designed to cover all sorts of situations.”