Capital Punishment

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Mavericks doesn't just have its players engaging in epic, fierce battles with up to a thousand competing on the Isle of Dern, 24/7/365 - there is downtime. The social hub - the Capital's Island - offers players a chance to relax and rest, to trade and socialise, and to plan for the next foray into Dern proper.

This location is operated by the Capital and dominated by the giant, monolithic Tower, piercing the skyline and acting both as an impactful visual and a navigation point for players looking for their bearings. "We needed a social hub," explains Stuart Bugg, lead artist, "We needed something recognisable, we needed something unique that would draw players in... it all just came together in the form of the Tower."

But this landmark isn't just a token of the Capital's dominance - it's a living, breathing part of the world with a mystery surrounding it. While stark in its look, the Tower is ever-changing, undulating and moving like a concertina as it converts its form. Why? That's part of the mystery. But it's designed to be an arresting image lighting up the sky.

The Tower also operates on a more fundamental level as a giant social screen: "It might play videos from something like your most recent kill," explains Lawrence Barnett, game designer, "Or it could be operating as a huge leaderboard to show the rest of the world your accomplishments. It has the potential to be a figurehead for so many uses, there's so much untapped potential as to what the Tower can represent from a gameplay perspective - even we don't know the full remit of what it can do for us, and what it can do for our players."

The area surrounding the tower is Mavericks' social hub - a region in which players can hang out and (obviously) socialise, buy, sell, and trade with little in the way of restrictions, have objectives and challenges handed out, and generally allow you to 'function as a person'. It's an important balance to add into a game with such tense action, and Automaton has been focused on making sure the downtime between matches is as enjoyable as it can be.

"It's a step back from the combat; it allows you to wind it down a bit - while ramping up personal aspects," Barnett says, "It's a home for the player - not just a space you go to and leave. A show-off space, in a way.

"It's an aspect of Mavericks that will develop and expand," he continues, "Into what we think provides the core aspects of what we're after - like personal expression - allowing players to do what they want to do within the game."

Part of the social hub's development might take in aspects of the mysterious Tower or how the Capital wants to control its region; it could even involve players bagging themselves their very own slice of heaven - an instanced room, a clan keep in which they can privately congregate with friends and cohorts, elements like that all have the potential to be introduced in future.

However things evolve, it's all going to fit in seamlessly with the lore of Mavericks - everything about the game is designed with this 'building on top of the existing' ethos, both from an artistic and gameplay perspective. "It's the noise of the old against the clinical of the new," Bugg says, "The Capital repurposes, rather than destroys."

Modifications to the structure - both of the social hub and the Tower itself - visually are being made to support gameplay and vice versa. Design feeds into gameplay, which feeds back into design, showing the organic, flowing nature of Mavericks' architectural wonders isn't just a visual treat, but one for the players too.

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