Decimated Q&A – Indie Team Unveils Cyberpunk Online Survival Game with FSR3 Support and Optional Blockchain

Estonian independent developer Fracture Labs aims to rectify one major shortcoming in the gaming market with its Decimated project: the current lack of any decent cyberpunk-themed online game.

For several years, CD Projekt RED hyped up the multiplayer mode of its Cyberpunk 2077 game. Fans salivated at the mere prospect of being able to roam Night City with or against other ‘Mercs’. Unfortunately, the Polish studio eventually changed its plans and canceled the multiplayer mode due to having to focus on improving the game’s single player mode.

Decimated cannot compete with Cyberpunk 2077 when it comes to budget and general polish. Nonetheless, it does have several intriguing features. We sent a list of questions to Fracture Labs to inquire for more details on pretty much every aspect of the game, including the potentially controversial optional support of blockchain technology.

Can you talk about Fracture Labs? When was it founded, and how many developers do you employ?

Fracture Labs was founded in 2018. We started as a small, self-funded indie studio with just 5 people on the team. We were bootstrapping for many years until we raised capital in 2021 ($4.1M), which gave us the opportunity to scale up to around 40 internally, with external teams helping with art assets and our website. We currently employ 30 staff and have support from some external partners. Most of the team have worked on AAA games in their careers and bring together decades of experience.

When did you begin working on Decimated?

We developed a prototype back in 2018, which then progressed into a pre-alpha demo by 2019. This was a deathmatch arena shooter, which we then opened up into an open world desert with hover vehicles, buggies, capture the flag and package delivery missions.

We tried raising capital with this pre-alpha at conferences like Gamescom, SLUSH, and other conferences but had no luck, so we continued to self-fund the game until 2021 when we finally raised $4.1M. This was also when Unreal Engine 5 was launched, so we restarted the project in the new engine with a bigger team of experienced developers to build the game in an optimized and scalable way.

The official website describes the game as a ‘persistent online world’. Would you say it has some MMO elements?

Decimated is not an MMO, but it is a multiplayer game with multiple persistent online maps, each with PVP and PVE missions. Players can explore and scavenge the environment or follow waypoints around the map to reach mission objectives, such as protecting or destroying vehicle convoys, salvaging crashed shipwrecks, rescuing hostages or prisoners, delivering packages, assassinating targets, engaging in combat with NPC’s and other players, looting and extracting back to safety in exchange for rewards, which can then be spent on gear, upgrades, and customizations. It’s very similar to ARMA Wasteland but in a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk setting.

What are your plans for the world size of Decimated? Will there be various biomes or just the desert one seen in the available videos?

The first map we are launching is the desert canyon map with the megacity skyline, which is 2 square km. We have a second map in production which has desert canyons, jungle, and swamp biomes. This is larger (around 16 square km). We also have a team of Houdini technical artists, including one senior technical artist formerly from Ubisoft Montpellier who worked on procedural tools for Ghost Recon Wildlands, so we can create more maps in the future, a lot faster than doing it 100% manually. We plan to develop the megacity map in the future.

Will there be multiple servers or an instanced megaserver? How many players can be in the same server/instance at once?

There will be multiple servers around the world, which will be duplicates of the same maps. There will be a maximum of 100 players per server, and by launch, different servers will have different settings to make them easier or more difficult for players. There will also be servers with gated sections of the map purely for PVP deathmatches rather than open world gameplay.

How does PvP work in the game? Is it only available in certain zones, or perhaps after flagging yourself? Will players be able to loot defeated players?

PvP will occur all over the map, but in the future we will have safe zones (green zones) where PvP is not allowed, such as spawn in locations, marketplaces and areas to gear up, and danger zones (red zones) where the high risk, high reward missions will be located. Yes, you will be able to loot other players, even while they are extracting to safety after completing a mission. This will make players want to avoid combat in certain scenarios, as the risk of being killed and looted will be too high.

Are you planning to have an ongoing storyline? What about PvE dungeons and raids for groups of players?

The game is set in 2187 after Earth has been decimated by decades of climate change and industrialization, causing civil unrest and the collapse of society. AI technology has risen to power, which has caused further unrest between human citizens and the cyborg cops who have been put in place by AI to maintain order and further damage to the environment.

There won’t be a linear ongoing storyline as we are focusing on multiplayer gameplay where the player can create their own story when playing solo or as part of a group, but we will have missions that will reference the lore. The beta version will have dungeons and raids for groups of players, with boss fights and missions requiring collaborative skill sets and classes.

Can you talk about the class system of Decimated? Will players be able to swap between classes with the same character?

Each time the player logs in, he/she will be able to choose which character class to play as. The three main factions are human citizen, cyborg cop, and wasteland marauder. Players can also choose to be a medic or a mechanic, spawning in with items related to that role. Future roles planned include a hacker, sniper, bounty hunter, and taxi driver. Team killing is not allowed, with the exception of the wasteland marauders, who can kill anyone, even other marauders. Players can’t switch classes while playing. They would have to exit the map and re-enter as a different class.

How does character progression work in Decimated? Is there a level/skill cap?

As we are still in alpha, there is no leveling or skill cap, but the plan for beta is for players to be able to interact with the world faster the more experience they have playing the game, such as repairing vehicles, reviving players, sprinting, hacking, etc.

What kind of survival elements are featured in the game?

Players have hunger, thirst, blood, and health levels. If they get injured and are losing blood, they can use bandages or medkits to stop the bleeding and restore health, while blood packs restore blood levels.

We plan to add unconsciousness into the beta version so players can be revived by medics and still have another chance at survival. Beyond that, there are also weather effects like sandstorms that will cause damage to the players unless they seek shelter.

How important is crafting in Decimated?

There is no crafting in Decimated at this time. We have features planned for beta where players can gather raw materials such as metals, plastics, or proteins and process them in factories to create items that players want to use or trade, but this is not planned for the alpha version. We also plan to have base building and customizable apartments and wasteland settlements, but this is also postponed to a later version of the game.

How do vehicles work? Can you steal vehicles from other players? Is there vehicle combat?

Vehicles can transport passengers and, in the future, cargo. The alpha version does not have vehicle combat, but we plan to have vehicles with turrets by late 2024. You can steal vehicles from other players, but if your purchased vehicle gets stolen, it will respawn back in your garage when destroyed. We may also allow owners of vehicles to enable a self-destruct functionality on their vehicles to take care of thieves the hard way!

You’re making this game in Unreal Engine 5. Are you taking advantage of Lumen and Nanite?

Yes, we actively utilize Lumen and Nanite technologies in our work. Next year, we plan to upgrade to the latest version of Unreal Engine to expand the use of Nanite across all game content. Currently, our use of Nanite is limited, but we are aiming for its full integration. As for Lumen, we indeed employ dynamic lighting, with many light sources implemented through emissive materials. Lumen technology is also used for reflections. There were concerns about the performance of this technology in our open world with high detail, but the results have been quite impressive. We intend to continue using Lumen in our current and future projects, considering its efficiency and contribution to enhancing the quality of visual content.

Do you also plan to support hardware ray tracing?

Not at this time, since we are developing an open world multi-player game.

Talking about upscalers, will Decimated support NVIDIA DLSS 3 and/or AMD FSR 3?

Yes, our team plans to integrate AMD FSR 3 after transitioning to the latest Unreal Engine version. We have already conducted experiments with AMD FSR 2 support, but encountered a number of technical difficulties, which led us to temporarily postpone it. Despite these obstacles, we remain interested in implementing this technology.

As for supporting NVIDIA DLSS 3, we are currently focused on working with AMD technologies, but we are also considering the integration of other solutions to improve performance and image quality in order to provide players with the best gaming experience.

Did you evaluate using generative AI tools like Didimo’s Popul8 and/or Inworld AI?

We have tested Inworld AI but don’t want to have feature creep by adding new technologies while we are still working on getting the game out. After the alpha is launched, we will evaluate the need for new technology like AI NPCs. But we are not making an RPG that requires players to talk to NPCs in order to be given quests. Interaction with NPCs will be in marketplaces, and their purpose will only be to trade in-game items. If players really want there to be AI NPCs, we can certainly feed in a lot of lore that the players can discover!

I’ve noticed you plan to link a blockchain currency to Decimated. As far as I know, Steam does not allow that. How are you planning to get around this hurdle? Moreover, are you aware that the vast majority of gamers vehemently hate blockchain?

We plan on releasing two versions of the game – one for the traditional gamers on Steam and another outside of Steam with added features.

Our original prototype had an in-game currency using Ethereum that players could win by killing other players in the deathmatch arena, but we found the tech to be slow and expensive, and we were aware of the negativity surrounding it, so we stopped using it and focused on the core gameplay: vehicles, combat, and survival mechanics.

While initially we planned on releasing a traditional game by 2021, when investors suddenly took an interest in what we had developed, they wanted us to pivot back. This obviously required a lot of discussion and planning, so we decided to make a traditional game with soft currency for regular gamers and another version with hard currency using a Solana token called DIO that can be bought, spent, and earned in-game. That way, we are appealing to everybody.

We also found that distribution platforms such as Steam or the Epic Games Store have different terms and conditions when it comes to web3 features. So, by providing different versions of our game, players will have complete control over which version they want to play. The Steam version, for example, will only have soft currency, without NFTs or crypto. The game will also be available on the Epic Games Store and via our website with additional functionality not found in the Steam version.

Do you have an ETA for the early access launch?

We plan to launch the alpha version of Decimated in 2024 and roll out updates and new features while our community is playing. The game will be free to play with in-game purchases of soft currency, on Steam.

Thank you for your time.

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