Grimlands is an upcoming Shooter MMORPG hybrid in development at Drago Entertainment. Set in a post apocalyptic American Southwest that has been rocked by devastating earthquakes, Grimlands features innovative crafting mechanics, a completely open ended character progression system and a strong focus on extremely intelligent and adaptive enemy AI.
“Grimlands presents a different approach to MMOs by combining the fast and fun gameplay of a first&third person shooter with a full scale, sandbox MMORPG that is set in a vast open game world and features a fully player based economy where every item is crafted out of scavenged raw materials.”
You can check out our exclusive interview as well as some gameplay footage and screenshots below.
Drago has taken its open world shooter to Kickstarter with hopes to raise $650,000 for release on PC. Drago Entertainment tells us that they also have plans to release Grimlands for the Playstation 4.
The enemy AI, choice driven leveling and the massive open world are the game’s most stand out features and something the development team takes very seriously. Although it may not look quite as slick, its setting reminds us of both the Fallout series and Borderlands, but with an even greater sense of overall customization.
Drago has created an enemy AI system to rival that of a AAA shooter set within the freedoms of an open world/sandbox MMORPG. The “AI in Grimlands is capable of changing strategy and approach on the fly, so you might see the same enemies using the same weapons approach you differently,” creative director and lead game designer Lucjan Mikociak told the Jace Hall Show. Enemies will decide to approach you directly or attack you at a distance depending on their weapon type and the surrounding environment — but the AI goes even deeper than that, “they could however also decide that pursuing you is too risky given the distance and their weapon range and find a good place to defend and wait for you to come,” said Mikociak. He also mentions that right now the team is “working on single enemies to dynamically form teams on the fly and stop acting like single enemies, but like a group with a leader.”
Keeping in mind the game is indeed an MMORPG to a degree, Drago has added in “aim assistance” for players who aren’t entirely comfortable with fast paced shooters while still allowing those who take pride in their manual aim “to score additional damage or effects when aiming for hit zones.” More on this below.
In our exclusive interview below, creative director Lucjan Mikociak gives us an inside look at the game’s backstory as well as the more “than 200 skills and talents” players can acquire. He also goes deeper into the various species and inhabitants as well as the game’s interesting crafting mechanics.
JHS: What is Grimlands and what sets it apart?
Lucjan Mikociak: Grimlands is a post-apocalyptic sandbox MMORPG with shooter style combat, innovative character development and a player driven economy. What sets it apart from most other MMORPGs is the freedom of choice we give players, especially in terms of character development, where they go and what they do.
JHS: Can you give us a brief explanation of the backstory and setting here?
LM: Somewhere within the next 10 years massive earthquakes devastated the Earth as we know it. The destruction was global and severe, but whatever was left of civilization has been further degraded by various conflicts that ensued for the remaining, scarce resources.
That leaves the world in a state the player will experience when entering Grimlands around 30 years later in the southwestern US. Small communities trying to establish settlements on the ruins of small towns and villages, roaming bands of wastelanders and the daily fight for survival. On the other hand, the world in ruins is a great place to explore, to find long forgotten places and see some crazy ideas people came up with to make due.
JHS: “Your skills are based on what you do. There are no points, no classes, just a wide variety of choices to develop your character the way you want to.” Can you elaborate on how character progression and earning new skills works? Are these stat upgrades or passive/active skills?
LM: You learn new skills either by doing something or occasionally learning them from an NPC. If you pick up a rifle and start using it, you will learn the Rifle skill by itself. When you continue using rifles, your Rifle skill will increase and you will become better at shooting with rifles by having a better chance to hit or dealing a bit more damage. As your Rifle skills level up, you will learn new, related skills and even new attacks you can place on your quick bar and actively use. So we have a combination of both, active and passive skills. There are more than 200 skills and talents to learn for a character.
JHS: “We oriented our AI on shooters rather than MMORPGs to make fights more interesting and different from encounter to encounter.” Can you tell us more about the AI and some of the enemies players will be going up against?
LM: We have various types of humanoid enemies, starting with simple Wastelanders armed with just a knife to heavy armored enemies with assault rifles. We are currently working on some very cool types of mutants that will roam the more toxic area of the game world or await you in certain dungeons, not to the mention the classics like mutated, large scorpions or wolfs.
However, the type of opponent only determines a part of how the encounter will play out. The weapon the enemy is using plays a large role in how he will act. Obviously an enemy with a rifle will try to stick to long range while one with a pistol or knife will try to get close. Another piece that has great influence over the fight and how the AI will proceed: the environment. AI in Grimlands is capable of changing strategy and approach on the fly, so you might see the same enemies using the same weapons approach you differently. One might go indeed for the direct approach trying to close the distance to his target as quickly as possible while the other will run from cover to cover. They could however also decide that pursuing you is too risky given the distance and their weapon range and find a good place to defend and wait for you to come. Or they might just switch to a different weapon type as some enemies do and change their strategy entirely.
Grimlands uses Autodesk’s Kynapse AI and runs a massive amount of AI servers for a good reason and we are still improving it a lot. Right now we are working on single enemies to dynamically form teams on the fly and stop acting like single enemies, but like a group with a leader. That’s something we are really looking forward to putting into the game.
JHS: Tell us about the game’s combat system. How many weapons can we carry? Grenades? Are there any other offensive abilities players have other than traditional guns?
LM: Combat in Grimlands feels a lot like a shooter. You aim and you shoot. We love it, it’s simple and fun. However, we are well aware that some gamers are not that good at shooter style combat and fear that it is too much to handle in a MMORPG. Here we came up with an aim assistance so that players don’t need to aim perfectly and we think this is a great solution. Fast paced combat, yet with an ease comparable to point and click. That doesn’t mean that you don’t gain any benefits if you do aim properly, quite the contrary. Grimlands’ combat system supports hit zones allowing you to score additional damage or effects when aiming for hit zones such as head, arms or legs.
As for weapons, we have revolvers, pistols, shotguns, SMGs, rifles and assault rifles allowing players to carry 5 sets of weapons to switch between them. We don’t have grenades or launchers, yet. It is something we do plan for the future. For the time being though, Grimlands has active skills for automatic weapons such as SMGs and Assault Rifles to hail a rain of bullets on not so small areas to deal AoE damage.
JHS: In the Kickstarter campaign you mention that the game features a cover system and stealth. Is choosing to take the stealth route a viable decision in Grimlands? Can players actually be successful in the game by being sneaky and calculated?
LM: Yes, stealth will definitely be a viable route. We are currently reworking the stealth system to ensure exactly that and make it even more interesting. We are altering enemy reactions toward characters in stealth and also reduce the amount of actions that break stealth. We also plan to implement special attacks for stealth to allow players an even more tactical approach to enemies from distance to be able to avoid being taken out of stealth due to the high sound level of a shot. In Grimlands enemies not only see, but also hear. There will be some quite exciting things for sneaky players coming in Grimlands.
JHS: Grimlands is an “innovative mix of Shooter and MMORPG” with 40+ Dungeons. What would you say to gamers that don’t play MMO’s but are interested in the full action combat of Grimlands?
LM: That’s simple: forget dungeons, forget quests, go all out on PvP. Really, do the first quests in the starter location to get a feel for the game and get some gear and then go the clan route and do combat in PvP or some PvE if you like. The freedom to do what you want is the beauty of Grimlands. We really don’t enforce much on players and leveling by just doing helps here a lot.
JHS: “The best gear is crafted by players and not dropped from bosses, giving the ultimate reason for trade in the auction house. ” Can you tell us about how crafting works in Grimlands and how do players “let someone else craft the gear for you”?
LM: When you learn crafting through a short quest chain that also introduces the player into crafting, you will already know a few recipes for some basic items. Once you scavenged enough resources and junk and recycled those into crafting materials, you need to visit a workbench to start crafting. Let’s say you want to craft a pistol. You don’t craft the pistol right away, you craft its parts first, things like grip, barrel or slide. Your crafting skill not only determines your chance to succeed, but also the quality of each part (low, average or high).
Once you crafted all the parts you can craft the actual pistol. It’s not just selecting the pistol and clicking on craft though. The higher the quality of the parts, the more crafting points you’ll have to spend on the pistol’s stats such as accuracy, magazine size, effective range to name just a few. You use simple sliders to set the stats and can reduce existing stats to gain crafting points in order to increase others stats you might value more. Once you set the pistol’s stats like you want the, you simply craft by pressing the craft button.
Whole crafting the actual item, your crafting skill determines how many slots for mods you’ll get, ranging from none to 5. Once you have the item crafted, you can craft mods such as silencers, scopes, extended barrels, high precision trigger groups, enlarged magazines and a lot more to put into any free slots you might have on the weapon to increase its stats even further, change the pistol visually or give it new abilities. For example a scope or silencer will actually show on the weapon and scopes allow you to enter scoped view. Silencers will obviously silence your shots.
If that wasn’t enough, you can further improve items via special Master NPCs that for some rare resources and lots of money will attempt to customize the weapon for you. This means further stats increases, but also high costs and high chance to fail. This will also make the item soul bound – up until this point it could be freely traded.
You can also let someone craft your gear for you. We have two different approaches here. The first one is to simply give the resources to a crafter to craft an item for you. This brings a sense of trust and renown into play where crafters can make a name for themselves for being good and trustworthy. Another approach would be to post a request in the auction house. It is sort of like an inverted auction, where you request an item and another player accepts it and provides you that item; if your offered price was right.
JHS: What are some of the motivations behind offering both subscriptions and free-to-play models?
The main motivation for us to go with both models is to make sure there are always enough players and give players the choice to decide how much they want to spend for playing Grimlands.
JHS: Can you tell the Jace Hall readers something about Grimlands that we may not already know from the Kickstarter and pre-release material?
Yes, there is one thing we are not ready to officially announce yet, but we never the less are planning to: bring Grimlands to the Playstation 4! We actually looked at consoles before with Playstation 3 – because we love Sony, the way they are open to Free to Play, the way the PSN works – but the Cell Chip made it just too difficult. With the architecture of the PS4 it is actually quite easy to get Grimlands on it – the horse power will make it on par with high spec PCs and even allow us to add some bells and whistles!
Craig Hunter – who has written 1224 posts on The Jace Hall Show.
Craig Hunter is a main contributor for the Jace Hall Show and has been an avid gamer for over 15 years. He also freelances for a number of websites and magazines covering mobile products and emerging technologies.
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Jace takes a break from hosting and gets the chance to be interviewed on NGAME.TV – where things quickly take a sour turn for the worst. And are video games too violent? Jace talks the politics of video games with Ted Price, the CEO of insomniac games.
Jace gets invited to the “Lost Planet 2″ party and runs into “V” Star, Logan Huffman who is still upset that Jace hasn’t gotten a video of him pulled from Youtube.com yet. Jace then goes to Crystal Dynamics to talk Tomb Raider with brand director Carl Steward.
Jace manages to piss off two of the most important people in the country, Barack Obama and Jessica Chobot. The former is upset at Jace’s TV show, while Chobot doesn’t appreciate Jace crashing his set. Plus, Jace sits down and talks V with the legendary actress Jane Badler.
Jace Hall visits BioWare to check out Star Wars: the Old Republic and sees a secret Tomb Raider project. Tempers finally flare on set of Jace’s interview with NGAME TV, not before Jace has a sit down and talks with cast members of ABC’s “V.”
Jace catches up with Stargate Executive Producer, Brad Wright on location in Vancouver to get even more insider info on what has kept the Stargate franchise popular with the fans and networks for so many amazing years. Also, more Star Wars: Old Republic exclusives pop up at Bioware.
The “EPIC” Cliffy B. himself has taken up the KABOOM! open challenge on the office Atari to test if he really did put the FUN in fundamentals. Plus, Jace relives one of his lifetime dreams of doing the happy dance on the set of Stargate…much to producer Brad Wright’s dismay.
Jace witnesses nerd mating rituals at Sony Online Entertainments fanfare and visits the DC Universe Online studios, where he is met with quite a challenge. Jace also has another intimate chat with President Obama, as the latter continues to express his dismay.
Jace has decided to take advantage of his co-hosting duties at the Sony Online Entertainment Fan Faire celebration, by showing his new music video to the thousands of EverQuest players in attendance, much to the dismay of the crowd. That didn’t stop one enthusiastic guest from doing something radical.
Jace finally meets his match, getting destroyed in a game of DC Universe Online. That doesn’t stop him from rocking Vegas with Randy Pitchford from Gearbox, and venturing to Gaikai, where he learns about cloud gaming with company President Dave Perry.
Donald Faison and Jace discuss the best biblical ally to have in a fight, while Donald tries to pitch his newest show idea, he only needs a few bucks. Jace then goes to Vegas to talk Doom, Quake and some of the greatest first person shooters of all time with the guys at id Software.
The team at id Software reveals Exclusive RAGE footage, direct gameplay that only The Jace Hall Show can bring! Plus, Jace puts Sandeep Parikh, one of the stars of The Guild on the spot about his series, and just what exactly he and Todd Roy are trying to pull behind his back.
The Jace Hall Show debuts more Exclusive RAGE footage with the id Software team, but Jace isn’t satisfied with just “looking”, he wants to play and has decided to pull a runner! Then Jace and Todd decided to pwn the Goodyear blimp, getting a limited access view of Los Angeles from up above.
The Season Finale is so 1337 it just couldn’t fit into a single episode. In part 1, we take a special trip to the home of Gears of War and Cliffy B himself in North Carolina, EPIC GAMES where Jace is looking to cash in on the “favor for a favor” that Cliffy promised him.
The Jace Hall Show closes it’s 4th season with an Epic sized finale (is there any other way?) Showcased is Exclusive footage from the new Mortal Kombat game in all of its gory goodness, as well as perfectly inappropriate Duke Nukem: Forever footage in all of its “Glory”.
The Season 5 debut features Jon Heder a.k.a. Napoleon Dynamite losing a video game battle to Jace, forcing Jace to debut his “Blame It On The Game” music video (starring Fab Morvan and John Davis) that made history. Plus, we sneak into Blizzard headquarters for Diablo 3 EXCLUSIVES.
Geek Goddess Felicia Day stops by to settle an old score and try to steal something back from Todd and Jace – somehow her underwear drawer gets in the way. Plus, the I Play WoW video that grossed over 13 million views is back in the new I Play WoW redux ENTIRELY using machinima.
The fight with Felicia Day continues, as Jace gets the opportunity of a lifetime to record an ACTUAL character in Diablo 3 – it didn’t go as well as everyone had planned. Plus, Jace receives an ATARI automobile that you have to see to believe (something Todd can barely put up with).
Jace continues to struggle in his Diablo 3 voice session, causing lead designer Jay Wilson to ask for more BLOOD. The SOE team behind PlanetSide 2 offers Director Todd Roy the chance of a lifetime. Jace’s Kaboom skills are put to the test against a team of ambitious gamers.
49ers Tight End Vernon Davis visits the office to buy Jace’s T-Rex, offering a huge price! Matt Higby show Jace more from PlanetSide 2, while YTCracker and MC Lars try to get Jace to show some nerdcore skills by rapping live as Jace debuts his latest music video, “My Game Ain’t Done”.
Comic book legend Stan Lee returns and promptly destroys his ACTION COMICS #1. Meanwhile, Vernon Davis offers a HUGE offer for Jace’s T-Rex, only to have everything fall through in the end. Plus, Jace continues putting up ridiculous scores, pwning little kids in Kaboom.
Jace begins building what is undoubtedly the greatest ARCADE Machine in the history of space and time, while the much balleyhooed PlanetSide 2 trailer Todd was hired to direct debuts…to much jaw dropping. Plus, the fight continues as Thousand Pound fighter Amy Johnson kicks ass.
The Ultimate Arcade Machine is finally revealed, with pretty much every video game ever made! Get a look at Jace’s new toy and its insane features! Plus, Todd auditions a film and TV star to take Jace’s place as host of The Jace Hall Show, without Jace even knowing it.
Exclusive gameplay and all access behind the scenes look into Defiance, one of this year’s most anticipated shooters. NBA champion and celebrity actor Rick Fox makes his move to replace Jace as host, while Producer Todd makes moves on Rick’s hot sister.
Actor and NBA champion Rick Fox scores an exclusive look at the top secret Sims City game at EA. Jace then crashes Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski’s celebrity packed wedding – the only problem is that none of Alison Haislip, Isaiah Mustafa or Randy Pitchford will let him in.
Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest are caught committing a MAJOR gamercode violation, while NBA star Rick Fox previews a never before seen SimCity demo. Plus, if you thought the annoying orange was annoying, wait until you see what Apple’s biggest competitor has cooked up.
ATARI founder Nolan Bushnell faces off against INTELLIVISION’s Keith Robinson in the final battle of which gaming platform is better. Then actress Eliza Dushku confronts Jace, proving why he shouldn’t question a girl’s game cred, in one of the most epic rap music videos ever.
The Jace Hall Show gets an exclusive look at the hidden scandal behind why Kevin Pereira left Attack of the Show. Meanwhile, Debbie Gibson and Jace fight over Afterglow Headphones then think about making a music video together. Has Electric Youth been reloaded?