Exclusive Q & A with APB Reloaded’s Zak Littwin (ARTICLES)

by August 9th, 2011

Zak Littwin, Games Designer for APB Reloaded and Reloaded Productions, took time out from his mad schedule to answer a few questions for us. A big thanks to Zak, Reloaded Productions and Tommy Williams from GamerFirst.

Exclusive Q & A with APB Reloadeds Zak Littwin

YARS)  So first up, can you briefly explain what APB Reloaded is!

Zak) APB Reloaded is a massively multiplayer online third-person shooter game based in the modern-day fictional city of San Paro. In a state of near anarchy, players choose between two factions, Enforcers and Criminals, in order to control the city. The game is a digital version of cops and robbers, with Criminals and Enforcers battling each other in this open-world environment to control territories, commit or stop petty crimes, and gain notoriety within their own organizations. The game is very much focused on PvP combat and community-driven content. Players can pretty much do whatever they want in the city.

Y) Why do you think APB Failed initially?      

Z) Well, I can’t really speak to that as that’s more of a question for the former leadership of Realtime Worlds, but I can tell you that when GamersFirst came out to look at APB for acquisition, that they saw many pieces for a successful MMO, including the advanced customization system and the beautiful artwork, and a lot of the base coding in the cars, weapons, and deep story-driven background that Realtime Worlds created. To put it in the words of APB Reloaded Producer Jon-Enée Merriex, the game just needed a little love and attention to be finished. 

Y) What does Reloaded bring to the users that were missing? 

Z) APB Reloaded brings a more polished, intuitive and balanced game to the world of San Paro. We took away the overarching fantasy-focused end-game MMO philosophy, where the highest level players had the most powerful weapons and the best gear. In its place we gave APB Reloaded more of a Shooter ideology, allowing players to become more specialized in certain combat types over the typical gear-grind. We’ve also balanced the game differently, ensuring that even the most casual or new player can have fun upon first entry, while still keeping the game challenging for more seasoned players.

During open beta we were heavily focused on PvP mission balancing. We revamped the player rating system with an advanced set of algorithms that presents a more accurate approximation of that player’s skill. Then we tied it to a new matchmaking system that now

places players in missions against the most equally-skilled opponent possible. Then we upped the ante by creating an Instance Recommendation system, which checks player’s ranking and places players in an action district instance with the most like-ranked players in it. This, along with our new auto-grouping system for missions means a player can enter the game, go Ready, and quickly be directly into large scale firefights with lots of chaos and mayhem.

Y) What are the long term plans for Reloaded (question in mind from Star Wars KOTOR wanting to last decades!)

Z) Our ideal long term plan is to keep the game running forever! We have a laundry list of things we want to implement for the sake of the longevity of APB Reloaded. The only way the game is going to survive is to continually work with our community and create new districts, missions and team gameplay content as the weeks, months and years roll by, keeping the game fresh and most importantly, fun. Over time we will be introducing new contacts and organizations that will give us a chance to introduce new Clothing, Weapons, Vehicles and Modifications to the game, alongside filling out the back story of San Paro. The inclusion of new Modifications deserves special mention, which will allow players to further specialize, giving them more specific and diverse roles within the group dynamic (which can be switched at an instant if one of them is using the Field Supplier Mod) Some of the larger scale things on the horizon are new action districts like the Asylum. The district gives players a new place, depending on what side you’re on, to wreak havoc, or prevent it from happening, in and around abandoned warehouses, buildings and seedy nightclubs. We’re also working feverishly on Turf Wars, an updated and persistent conflict in our current action districts where Criminals and Enforcers will fight for control of a district, block by block, in a full 50 vs 50 PvP district  We’re also developing a pure racing district, APB Reloaded-style, a clan warfare deathmatch mode

Y) Can gamers really enjoy the whole game for free or will premium account holders constantly have the upper hand?

Z) Gamers can enjoy a full game as long as they wish without ever having to pay a dime for a box copy or subscription. It’s important to note that GamersFirst doesn’t promote level-caps or content barriers like some other reported free games. While there are perks to being a premium account holder, it does not give a gameplay advantage. What a player gets with premium is faster reputation gains with contacts, more cash rewards from in-game missions, the ability to use more layers in the symbol creator and a deep discount in the Armas Marketplace for things like gear, character slots, cars, weapons and even more premium time. As for weapons offered in the Armas Marketplace, we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that they are not game-changing. We’ve done this by taking the weapons already available from contacts in the game, and modified them to complement a specific playstyle. For example, take a look at the sniper rifle. The one available to players from in-game contacts has a great range and can typically take a target to near-death in one shot. The downside is that you can’t sprint with it. Conversely the Armas Marketplace version has a slightly shorter range, does a little more than half the damage, but allows the player to sprint. How that ends up playing out in-game is that the mission-based sniper rifle is an excellent team-support weapon from an extremely long-distance stationary sniper; the Armas Marketplace is better suited as for a sniper who’s closer to the action and needs to change location frequently. It’s extremely important to make sure the game is balanced and not become a pay to win game.

It’s also important to mention that if a player chooses to stop paying for the premium service, they will not lose anything they have paid for or created as premium. IN the example of the expanded symbol creator, once a player stops premium service they won’t be able to edit an intricate symbol they’ve created, but they can continue to use it as they see fit. And should they want to edit it again, all they need to do is get another month of premium.

Y) What other games have the team worked on previously?

Z) The Reloaded Production team is a conglomerate of both the Scotland office and team members here in the U.S. The U.S. team brings their expertise from other GamersFirst Free2Play titles including War Rock, Sword 2 and Knight Online. Here on the Scottish side, the team consists of former Realtime Worlds employees who previously worked on APB.

Y) What games are you playing in your free (not that there is likely to be much) time?

Z) This may seem a bit behind the times, but I recently picked up Magicka in a sale so I’m playing through that Co-Op with some work colleagues.  It’s amazing fun if massively hectic at times, and comes with a sometimes ridiculously unfair (but incredibly funny) deathmatch mode that I’m addicted to.  I’m also playing through Deus Ex yet again in preparation for Human Revolution (I can still remember all the door codes for the first couple of hours of the game, which I’m a little embarrassed
about)

Y) Finally – For you, what is the stand out feature of APB Reloaded?

Z) The first thing you hear out of the mouths of most players when asked about what makes APB Reloaded so special is the customization system. The amount of detail that can be done in the shop is so intricate, it’s easy to let hours float by with some players going as far as launching their own full-scale clothing lines and music labels.

What really stands out in APB Reloaded to me is definitely seeing players work in groups, either with friends or complete strangers, making the city of San Paro, really come alive. In its core, APB Reloaded is the classic game of cops and robbers translated in an endless plot twist of firefights, muggings and massive car chases.  For me the biggest thing is the sheer chaos that can happen when two large groups of players come together, with vehicles exploding and bullets flying every-which way.  The madness that can happen when you combine high-performance sports cars, massively heavy dump-trucks and high-explosives often results in situations that are so laugh-out-loud funny that you’re too busy watching the chaos unfold to notice the sniper plant a shot in your back.

APB Reloaded is set for full release on, but until then you can find out more and download the BETA at www.gamersfirst.com/

Facebook — www.facebook.com/APBReloaded  
Development Blog — apbreloaded.blogspot.com 
Website— www.gamersfirst.com/apb/     
Twitter —@APB_Reloaded @GamersFirst


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Andrzej Marczewski

Owner of YARS
Well, lets start by saying that I run YARS. Gaming has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember! I felt there were just too few games review sites out there, so created YARS to fill that sorry looking gap....

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About Andrzej Marczewski

Well, lets start by saying that I run YARS. Gaming has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember! I felt there were just too few games review sites out there, so created YARS to fill that sorry looking gap....

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