Rekoil is the $15 PC game that you own: run your own server, share maps via e-mail, mod everything
Rekoil looks and plays like a classic first-person shooter, but the game's draw is the fact that you own the game after the first $15 purchase. At least as much as you can own any piece of software these days. It’s yours to play with, mod, host a server, adjust, and use to create your own experiences using the built-in modding tools. “Right now we’re going to be releasing with ten maps, 30 weapons, there are going to be a couple of exclusive weapons for GameStop, a couple for GoG.com,” Kevin Dent, head of strategy of Plastic Piranha, told me. “We’re selling for $15, the whole philosophy for the game is that we want to create an experience where we’re giving the game back to the player. We’ll give you the first ten maps, we’ll do a few map packs after, but what we really want is the gamer to take ownership and say this is our game. We just fix the back end, make sure there’s no glitches, give them new weapons every now and again, but for the most part, we want the gamer to take control.” Dent talked about free to play games that, while they may be free to try, end up costing the player a hundred dollars or more for a full experience. That’s a situation he wants to avoid. “We’re saying give us $15, and you got this game, you own it, you can make your own maps. Even with the map packs there’s no DRM, you can literally take the maps and send them to your friends via e-mail, and they put it in their map folder, and it’s there.” If you’ve never modded a game before, don’t worry. The game is being made by experienced modders and map designers, and they’ve worked to simplify the tools to make the process as inviting as possible. “It’s going to be day one, Unreal Engine modding tools, which are super-easy to use. We’re also simplifying them even more, and we’ll release different updates,” Dent explained. “It’s like World of WarCraft: as you level up you have different modding abilities open to you. We already have all this done, it’s important for us that gamers don’t just say they’ve never made a map before. We want this to be the Minecraft of first-person shooters. With Minecraft you can go in and the first five minutes you don’t know what you’re doing, and you just click and figure out what you’re doing,” he said. “That’s how we want it to be when players create their maps.”
Everyone gets the same salary
Plastic Piranha has employees in New Zealand, Serbia, Sweden, Ireland, France, and the United States. Only two members are in the same office; the team is built from people Dent described as some of the best modders in gaming. “We gave them US-industry based salaries, we don’t care where you live, you get the same salary as the guys in LA. We want to be fair, and you’re doing the same work as everyone else, except this guy chose to live in LA.” The game will launch with dedicated servers, but anyone is free to run their own server with the client and adjust the settings, map rotations, and mods to their heart's content. All this will be free, no need to rent servers or play on the game’s official servers. Dent laughed and said this is partly due to the fact that PC gamers like to run their own club houses, and partly due to necessity. “There’s going to be a server client there if you want it. We’re encouraging people to do that,” he explained. “We’re a small indie, we’ll have a bunch of servers available for people to play on, but we’re poor, so we want you to play on your own goddamn server, okay? (laughs)” This is all part of the Rekoil experience, the $15 game is just a base. The community will hopefully take off and create wonderful things with the included maps, characters, and weapons, or even go deeper to create their own games. “We want to show that anyone can make a game. The reason I got involved with this project is I want to see more game developers,” Dent said. “The guys that worked on Half-Life 2, the majority of them were modders who worked on Half-Life 1. We want to see more talent coming into the industry. This is really, really important.” I had a chance to play a few rounds of Rekoil during our meeting, and it was bone simple. You selected your soldier, and you aimed your gun at the other team and tried to kill them. It reminded me of my early days in PC gaming, back when Counter-Strike was in beta and playing on someone’s server felt like being a guest in their club house. There is still work to be done, some of the animations looked clunky and I got stuck on a ladder once or twice, but these are issues that can be fixed. The structure is there for a great game, and I look forward to digging in and making it my game. If you'd like entrance into the game's beta, Plastic Piranha has set up a… sneaky? Savvy? Interesting. Let's go with interesting, way to gain access.