It's a little bit EVE
The fact that Criminals and Enforcers will be in constant contention and able to speak to each other means a lot of drama is going to ensue. According to Realtime Worlds, beta's already seen Criminals who've never been arrested and whose arrest is considered highly prestigious among the Enforcer community.
But the EVE Online references don't stop with the potential for grand sweeping dramas mostly created by the playerbase. It's now known -- via GDC 2010 information, of course -- that Realtime Worlds has every intention of creating future districts with different rule sets. It's important to note we're talking about district rule sets and not server rule sets. APB can host about 100,000 people per world and around 100 or so players per district within each world. So what this means is the equivalent of EVE Online's 0.0 sector space, where nobody is truly safe. That could make for some incredible diplomacy, assuming players were given good reason to play in these far more dangerous districts.
There's no guarantee that free-for-all PvP will actually make its way into APB, but if the players want it then chances are pretty good for a scenario where it does happen. I really hope Realtime Worlds puts the same thoughtful development time into whatever these kinds of districts would eventually turn out as, because they could become one of the biggest defining features in the long run.
To me, the success of EVE proves that when a developer creates their content with the sole purpose of furthering the relationship the two parties share -- the one between developer and player -- that everything turns out quite well. And the best part about free-for-all districts? It gives people the opportunity to self-create their own adventures within the game. Talk about money for nothing and content for free.
Together, it makes APB rock and roll
All these different ideas working in tandem should hopefully make APB an incredibly refreshing online experience. Really, there's nothing out -- not currently or forthcoming -- that's anything like this game. For a long time now, I've wanted a title that could foster the kind of tightly knit community that EVE has, and this very well could be that game -- with some of its own flare, of course.
The idea that the best artists, PvPer or Enforcer with the most arrests could earn their place as a giant in-game statue is quite appealing to me, and it says a lot about what other ideas Realtime Worlds may have in mind. When I read interviews with talk about giving the best guilds in the game their very own district where they can make the rules, the gears inside my head start spinning into overdrive.
While the business model -- that at the very least isn't going to be a monthly subscription fee -- is still the biggest mystery intact with APB, it's a constant point of curiosity for everyone involved. Without knowing that last big piece of the puzzle, knowing just how well the game will do is tough. However, I've certainly got an idea, and if you've read any of this without feeling the least bit enticed by APB, then perhaps you'll simply have to play it to understand. Perhaps if this op-ed has made you minimally curious to play it, I've achieved pretty much exactly what I wanted.
And even if APB doesn't shake up the MMO industry, it will without a doubt capture the imaginations of a wide breadth of creatively minded people interested in a little online mayhem.