APB has a strong foundation in place for creating and maintaining a clan. You can assign ranks, clan colors, uniforms and even force your clan members to wear those uniforms if you're that type of leader. Although there's nothing in place to force player vehicles to display your clan logo and colors, that can still be set manually through the customization options.
One important aspect of the social district that I saved for my clan discussion is the use of billboards. These billboards can be purchased as advertising contracts in the auction house, with a cooldown timer to make sure the same people aren't buying the same billboards repeatedly. What better way to advertise for your guild than through these billboard spaces. Or even, say, your MMO news website. *cough*
There are lots of rumors floating around about how APB can't really be considered an MMO because you can't run from one side of the world to the other without zones. Map persistence is usually a tricky subject in current MMOs, so I asked Chris to clarify a bit.
He explained that on each server there are 100,000 players -- 10,000 of these are concurrent at any given time. This is further broken down into 100 districts of 100 people each, much like Guild Wars or Champions Online accomplishes. Does this mean that you're restricted to only knowing 100 players in the game? Not at all. When you hear the word "server" or "shard", rest assured that these are set up to reduce lag in a world so heavily-customized with who-knows how many unique textures to load, not to mention music and sounds. You can also move around servers at any time, eliminating that dreadful question, "Which server do you play on?"
Switching between servers to play with friends is an MMO standard these days, but APB makes sure to take it another step. When you group with others, you will all automatically gather in the same shard.
With leagues and trophies, those rewards are world-wide, not broken down by shard. So when they celebrity, they really mean it.
While they're not discussing specifics on APB's business model quite yet, Collins did explain that it will be unique: "We're not really talking about the business model right now. It's not traditional subscription, not traditional microtransaction system. It's something very new and unique to APB. We're excited to announce it, just can't quite yet. What we do want to get across is what good value for the money it is."
Even when I tried to pry out some answers to item shop questions, he wouldn't budge. The economy of the game is so intensely player-driven, that I'm quite excited to see what they do with the business model to assure that balance. Even when probed about eliminating "gold farmers" in a heavily player-based and dependent economy, Collins simply said that they have some excellent mechanics in place for that, as well.
The Realtime team has also released a few new videos during PAX, showing more gameplay and combat action. Be sure to watch for the part on voice chat and how that will work in the game, because I find it quite fascinating. Much like Second Life, your character's voice chat is picked up by other players when you're in close proximity to them, allowing free-flowing conversations without joining a group or party.
You can watch the videos embedded below, or over at GameTrailers.com. Also be sure to check out the newly-revamped website at www.apb.com as the team ramps it up for open beta and launch, hopefully sometime this year.