Howdy folks! Recently Ivan and I have had a chance to sit down with Wes Platt from Icarus Studios, makers of the post-apocalyptic themed MMORPG: Fallen Earth. Wes is the assistant senior game designer for Fallen Earth and worked directly with (now-ex) Lead Designer Lee Hammock. You can listen to it here. But if you can’t then this is a quick summary of some of the things we spoke about Fallen Earth.
Wes’s background isn’t as conventional as you might think yet traditional in the sense that he is “old hat” at this. He has a deep lineage of over 10 years as a journalist that had to adapt due to the new era of internet publications. Lucky for us he had taken to playing some of the fore-fathers of MMORPG’s, MUD’s or Multi-User Dungeons for those who aren’t part of that original regime. Wes’ interest in game design had started with him creating games in Basic, playing Asheron’s Call which he described as “MUD’s with pictures and writing fan fiction centered on his World of Warcraft character named Stamp that you can read here. (Google is my friend.)
Wes’ love for the game eventually led to him making the easy transition to Icarus Studios after deciding to move away from journalism. Icarus Studios and the Fallen Earth team is an independent studio based in North Cah-ro-leye-nah (my terrible try at a southern accent), US of A. Wes starts out by telling us about some of the ups and downs of being an independent studio. On the upside you have TOTAL creative freedom within reason of the guidelines handed to them by the ESRB. On the flip side, they have to continuously search for funding by investors and other means to keep the project funded financially during the development period. When you look at the level of growth that Fallen Earth has had since launching September of last year, they seem to be doing just fine.
Fallen Earth is one of the more open-ended “sandbox” style games in circulation today. You take a free form, class-less system and combine that with a hybrid FPS/lock-targeting style combat, throw you into an expansive world with a robust crafting system and you have Fallen Earth in a nutshell. The game is set in the area surrounding the Grand Canyon where players have 3 huge zones to run, drive and ride a horse through. Since launch they have been working hard on making improvements that their users have requested. The game has greatly improved graphically and they keep on adding new content to keep the long term fans of the game interested in the aftermath.
Wes and his “scrappy” team are set to release a patch in the coming months that will bring many interesting changes for players of Fallen Earth. First off they are implementing a new achievement system based on 5 types of categories: Exploration, crafting, killing stuff and obviously killing other players in PVP. What he tells us is that there will be over whopping 500 different achievements to get in the game. There is also going to be over 140 new missions for players at the top level (45) to help them get to the new expanded level cap of 50.
There is also going to be a new town that was named New Gallows, which will just be “The Gallows” now. This new town will serve as the tutorial for conflict town pvp between factions. This will enable players to fully understand how conflict towns work and to get more involved with PVP. We spoke in depth on the new PVP additions of the next patch. Fallen Earth will also have blood sports, which is an arena based pvp match between players. It will be level dependant and scaled so a level 10 player queuing up will not be fighting a level 40+ and so on. Based on different scenarios to play like capture the flag and team versus team, there will also be a betting system that players can actually wager on who they think is going to win.
As some players will be enjoying the fight club style of PVP, there will also be changes brought into the game for organized PVP. Clan wars that are consensually based will have a ranking system that enables clans (guilds,corporations etc.) to climb to the top of the PVP tiers. Conflict towns will also get an upgrade when a certain faction takes the town only members of that said faction will be able to harvest the nodes adjoining that town. Now it will behoove your best interest to make sure that your faction will take over that town. It’s not just about braggin’ right anymore!
Going forward they have been hard at work to open the new area: the mysterious AREA 4. What I gleaned from questioning Wes about it he says, “That the world is trying to kill you when you get there.” Great! So not only is players from other factions trying to kill me and take my town, not only is every scrappy wolf, mutated chicken trying to kill me when I’m riding my horse while eating suspicious cheese that the environment is going to try to wipe me too. Wes says that he is impressed with the things that the team has come up with and that they have been doing their best to “amp it up” in AREA 4. It certainly sounds interesting and I’m sure that is something to look forward to down the road in the apocalypse.
What I am not going to mention is some of the changes that are not going to be in the coming patch. As the much requested player housing, gyrocopters or armadillos the size of houses but I will say that when players log into the newly launched test server their opinions are heard. The one thing that there WILL NOT be in the next patch is the equipment overcharging system that was unanimously voted out by the players themselves. That is something that many communities have looked for and they have it in Fallen Earth.
What I mean by that is a voice; players of Fallen Earth have an active role in the development of this game and Wes’s team listens to players speak when they speak about certain changes in the game. I can hear it in Wes’s voice when he speaks about his project and you can too when you listen to the podcast. He gets excited about the new changes and he is proud to be part of the Fallen Earth team. My experience with MMORPG’s has allowed me the chance to look at many different developers and how they relate to their customers. I feel that Fallen Earth has one of the most engaging and interesting groups of people that enjoy creating what should be viewed as the saddest time: The end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine.)
I want to personally thank Wes Platt for coming on the show with us and come back real soon, ya’hear. Fallen Earth is a fun game that is well made and runs great on my machine that’s pushing 3 Gigs of Ram, Geforce 8800 and a Dual Core Pentium, it is what you can definitely call scrappy by today’s standards. Even if you’re not a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre and need a break from fantasy-based games, the dark humor and references to popular culture makes this an interesting place to be. I would recommend it to new players and old veterans like me as well, just watch out for those house-sized armadillos. You can now buy Fallen Earth at Direct2drive.com for $14.95 and it comes with a complimentary month subscription, you can’t go wrong.
The Big Freaks.com