Massively: Do you have a specific launch window set for APB: Reloaded?
Rahul Sandil: Currently we are looking at the first half of 2011 where the next game patch in the lineup will likely be incorporated. There is quite a bit of transitioning and development that will be done before that as well. Probably closer to the end of the first half of 2011.
How are you planning to revamp the game to keep it from returning to its previous fate?
Well, the business model will be drastically different this time. Obviously, it will be free-to-play, but that won't get rid of some of the fundamental problems of the game. We want to keep the great development of the character, gun, and car customization, but [we] will need to look at several other aspects of the game to improve on what they already had. The core fundamentals of the game are good, they just need to be tweaked. With free-to-play (as you know from speaking to us by now), our development is continuous. Once we get some players in the closed beta phase, we will really rely on our community feedback to make improvements and help in guiding the direction of development in addition to visiting the unreleased content that already exists for the game.
What are your top priorities for this game before it launches?
Right now we are ironing out all that needs to be done. Our first process is making sure we get all the components of the game, making the transition for free-to-play and then setting up for combing through it and developing whatever we need to.
Do you think you have time to reach all of your goals and still launch within your time frame?
Yes. Our internal development team is excited and ready to go with the transition. We have organized a spectrum of focus that will allow the team to do the development, transition and QA that will be needed to get this ready for our time frame.
What are the greatest challenges do you anticipate with this project?
One of our greatest challenges will be to connect with the previous APB community and get their feedback for the revised development process. We want to encourage the players to come to the website and sign up on our forums, blog and Facebook to provide their feedback so that we can do our best to respond while developing the game to issues, concerns, things players liked and incorporate that in what we do moving forward.
How was the reaction from the gaming community after the first round of information went out yesterday?
You will always get your critics, but overall, it has been very positive. We have seen a lot of optimistic feedback for the game transitioning to free-to-play and we have received a lot of congratulatory emails from partners, our community, developers and others. We are very optimistic and feel that APB is well-poised to transition to the free-to-play market. We have heard the feedback from former players and we have played the game ourselves, so we are ready to make adjustments and get APB reloaded.
Do you expect most of the original playerbase to return for APB: Reloaded?
We would like them to return, of course. Players are sensitive and many of them have felt burned by the previous launch of APB. We do want them to join the new APB community and will do our best to make the transition easy for the players who were truly interested in what the title has to offer. It's hard to say if most of them will return; we will have to wait and see for that, but we hope that they will at least come play the game. After all it is free, so there are no barriers to test the game out and see what improvements have been made. We are determining now what we can offer previous players to come back, and [we] will be able to know more in the coming months, once we have gone through everything. But hopefully, we can offer them some type of loyalty package; we don't have anything nailed down yet.