I’m really interested in Triad Wars, United Front Games’ online F2P follow-up to Sleeping Dogs. UFG’s been blogging about the turf system and rackets on their site, and the stream answered several user questions about the system and how prospective gang leaders will make their illicit fortunes. Some highlights:
Triad Wars is a mix of action and strategy. Sure, there will be the running and gunning, but you’ll also have to manage the financial aspects of your criminal enterprise. To me, it sounds a little like a simulation game, like Civilization, where you need to balance your economy and also build up your military might, whether for attack or defense.
Your goal is to become a Dragon Head, a high-ranking leader of a Triad. Your turf is an extension of your wealth and power, and through it you gain “face,” a kind of prestige that lets everyone know how much of a badass you are.
Your warehouse is the only part of your turf that’s completely safe from enemy attacks, but it’s pretty small. You’ll need to upgrade the other parts of your turf to keep them safe from other players – or to raid those other players back. The rackets themselves can’t be destroyed, but your goods can be stolen.
You can choose not to pay attention to your turf and just attack everything and everyone, but you won’t be as efficient. When you do raid another player’s turf, the gameplay won’t always be the same. The layout and defenses will vary based on how that player has customized his turf.
Obviously, in a game with thousands of players, you won’t all be in one big world. They’re calling the game “asynchronous,” which means that at any time, the people in your instance of Hong Kong might or might not be online.
Future plans include the ability to operate more than one turf and ways for players to interact cooperatively, rather than competitively. Also, while you can customize your turf in terms of production facilities and defenses, there’s nothing yet in the game for interior decorating options.
The question of monetization was brought up during the stream. The basic answer was that there wouldn’t be anything that you can pay for to get instantly, so no “pay to get a gun” kind of thing. They were adamant about not adopting smartphone-game-type boosts, where the first few times you make something, it takes two minutes, but that time frame eventually expands into hours – unless you pay to speed it up, of course. “Things you purchase can lead to you getting stronger,” was one quote, though. XP or other kinds of advancement boosts, maybe? In a game that’s part “economic simulator,” being able speed up that economy’s development by paying real cash seems like a way to circumvent core gameplay. We’d all like more solid answers on this front and will see if we can get those in the future.
After the questions, the guys jumped into the game to show us around one player’s turf and give you an idea of the game’s production cycle. In this case, he spent cash so his hackers could download blueprints, which were then made into goods via the sweatshop, which were then loaded into the warehouse. Export missions would then be available to ship out those goods, but those come with their own risks in the form of other players looking to swipe your goods en route to their destination. If you need cash quickly or risk-free, you could sell your goods on the black market, though usually at a lower profit. Black market prices are set by player activity and the laws of supply and demand – the more something is sold, the less it’s worth, and vice versa.
Overall, I like the way Triad Wars is shaping up. The exact method by which export missions work – how long they take, exactly how much risk is involved – is crucial to my understanding of the game, as well as just how much “damage” my turf will take from other players when I go offline. If I take a week off, will I run the risk of all my hard work being undone?
Then there’s the monetization issue, which UFG seemed a little coy about, both in the stream and during their AMA a few weeks ago. The longer we go without hearing solid details about that, the worse people will think it is, especially in the wake of another sandbox, build-your-own-turf, semi-economic simulator like ArcheAge coming under fire for its cash shop policies
Until then, however, we’ll have to make do, and keep an eye out for future reveals. In the meantime, you can see the VOD of the livestream here (until Twitch takes it down, at least) and weigh in on what you think of what we know about Triad Wars so far!