A lot of games - particularly those which are 'open world' - tend to create fantastical (or at least fictional) settings for their players to explore. Two ex-Ubisoft devs decided this was kind of absurd- after all, why spend time designing a world when we've already got one? Using civilian drones and scanning the Earth one square-kilometer at a time, two ex-Ubisoft developers are aiming to "reproduce accurately, at scale, the whole planet and its different ecosystems, environments, countries, and cities."
These developers believe the planet Earth to be an ideal place for players to fight, survive, and live out a virtual existence.
Julien Cuny (former head of content for Assassin's Creed) and Louis-Pierre Pharand (former creative director and head of UbiWorkShop) had been discussing the possibility of founding their own development studio for quite some time. Last year, they finally made the decision to do so - they left Ubisoft to found Pixyul, then immediately set to work on ReRoll.
"We don't want to look at ourselves at 50 and say we didn't do it," Pharand said, noting that the two of them wanted to build something from the ground up and with "complete independence over that creative process."
ReRoll is, according to the developers, "an isometric persistent online open-world
survival action-RPG set in an incredibly realistic version of our own
world." Bit of a mouthful, right? In ReRoll, players will be tasked with surviving in urban, rural, and wild landscapes, crafting items needed to survive while fighting against a mutant threat which came about with the collapse of society (or perhaps caused it, we're not clear on the details yet).
Reportedly, Pixyul plans to release the world in pieces - or what they refer to as "Bricks" - with the first of these to hit Windows PC mid-2015. Once the game goes live, players will be able to either set out on their own or explore the world with friends and allies. Each player will also have the opportunity to invest in a wide skillset, including gardening, scavenging, engineering, and farming. They'll be able to purchase predetermined packages of tools and equipment; as they play, they'll learn how to craft new items and wield new skills.
From the sounds of it, player agency's going to be a big deal in ReRoll. A player could just as easily become a peaceful farmer or merchant as they could a heavily armed, highly-trained soldier. That said, there'll definitely be less of a focus on player-vs-player here: a "kill or be killed" world doesn't really fit with Pixyul's vision for the action-RPG. Always-on PVP sort of breaks the sense of reality they're trying to go for, and imbalances their game's three pillars: Craft, Explore, Fight.
Personally, the most interesting thing to me about ReRoll is the whole 'scanning of the world' concept - though I've my doubts as to how that'll plan out. It's an incredibly ambitious undertaking, particularly for a small team of developers. Even if they're only focusing on small areas of land, scanning the planet one square kilometer at a time is an incredibly lengthy and involved process. Not only that. the United States Federal Aviation Administration has rules which severely limits what Pixyul can map in the states.
Still, benefit of the doubt, and all that. The team's still fairly optimistic about their chances of success, even as they're realistic about the challenges. Beside that, there comes a point when the size of an open world grows large enough that no one could possibly explore the whole thing.
"If you get an island of five square kilometers, that's still a lot of fun in that space," Pharand said. "We're going to have a lot of real-world regions into it, but the gameplay will be fine-tuned and polished for those regions."
Check out the game's official website here.