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Fallen Earth | Official Site
MMORPG | Genre:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 09/22/09)  | Pub:GamersFirst
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Hybrid | Monthly Fee:n/a
System Req: PC | ESRB:MOut of date info? Let us know!

Fallen Earth Interviews: Interview with Christophe Watkins

By Richard Cox on April 27, 2005

In this interview Richard Duffek along with many members of our community, ask Christophe Watkins - Vice President of Icarus Studios a few questions about their upcoming MMORPG Fallen Earth.

Note that the exclusive screen shots featured in this article to notaccurately represent the final look of the game. Christophe pointed out that the lighting engine was not enabled in the graphics engine when these screens were captured. The final product should lookmuch more lifelike and polished.

MMORPG.com:Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a couple questions for our members. The last thing we want to do is keep you from working on the game we're all so eagerly anticipating, but well, we hunger for information as well. So if we could start off with you telling us a bit about yourself, what you do on the team and what you may have worked on in the past?
Christophe:

I started in television for MTV, but my real "calling" came when I read Neuromancer and later was offered the opportunity to join Infogrames Entertainment (now Atari) in early 1994 to launch their online games division. That's when I met for the first time Jim Hettinger. His company, MPG-Net, was one of the early pioneers of online (and at the time not so massive) multiplayer games alongside Kesmai, Simutronics and a handful of others... After Infogrames, I co-founded a company developing and distributing connected games on wireless devices, now called the Mforma Group. Jim Hettinger and I worked together at that time; then Jim decided to create Icarus Studios in 2001 with Charlie Tyson. A core group of MMO veterans who had worked with Jim, like Brad Lineberger (Kingdom of Drakkar) and Chris Babcock (Warbirds) joined Jim and Charlie. I was contacted by Jim in late '03, and when I saw what they had done, my jaw dropped and I drooled. As Mforma could now grow without me, I quickly jumped and decided to join this amazing, humble, and talented team.

At Icarus, I'm responsible for business development, marketing, finance, sales...pretty much all non game development related activity. As a gamer, I try to add my 2 cents on design... but we have real experts for that :)

MMORPG.com:
(Sygmas)
What's the word on community? I.E. when are we getting an official forum and when will the development team be communicating more actively with its followers?
Christophe:

It has been our strategy and desire from day one to show, then to talk.

We have self funded this company and game, and we spend money very cautiously. All of our money until now has been spent where it matters, the game and the underlying technology and tools.

We release information when we know 100% if and how any particular feature or element will be in the game. Opening forums too early only amounts to increased hype, saying things you might not be able to implement, etc... all of which can lead to frustration later on.

The bottom line is: we are EAGER to communicate more with our fans, believe me, but we feel we don't deserve your time and attention until we have something to put in your hands and play with. We're picky and we want to do it "right" and not rush the game launch. There are so many games to choose from these days, we want to make sure we meet the high expectations of our fans and deliver what they've been waiting for, a killer game. Simply put we want to take the best strategy and action of Shooters, and the rich story depth and character development of RPGs, and put them all in a massive zoneless world with a beautiful ecosystem.

MMORPG.com:
(Cthulhuvong)
Can you give a tentative date for beta?
Christophe:

Nope...
I wish we could be more precise, but we prefer to keep our heads down and when its ready we will announce it.

MMORPG.com:
(Madjake)
How big of a world is Fallen Earth?
Christophe:

It's not big, it's VERY big. It is 7,000 square kilometers.

MMORPG.com:
(Skeleton_Cav)
Are you going to have one long beta test or are you going to have a few small tests?
Christophe:

We plan to do a staged rollout of releases, each intended to exercise a different area of the product, from server load balance through game play. The initial testing will involve a selected group of players, with additional invitations to the community as we pass each milestone.

MMORPG.com:
(DoctorRat)
Care to elaborate more on how combat will work?
Christophe:

This is one of the key areas we wish to differentiate ourselves from the competition. For now we'd like to keep the details secret.

MMORPG.com:
(Zangk)
Is there going to be a need for food and/or water?
Christophe:

Yes. Survival will be a key element of game play. Players will need to eat and drink to survive in the badlands, especially if they have to run and spend many calories hunting, exploring or scavenging.

MMORPG.com:
(DoctorRat)
Also, role play. Will the GM's be organizing role play-themed events like Ultima Online or MXO?
Christophe:

This is something we'd like to do, by all means. We are not there yet though. When we get closer to launch we'll announce our final strategy regarding such events.

MMORPG.com:
(Zangk)
How bout the customization on characters? How much detail can you tell us about it? (Like facial appearance, sex, body shape, skills, so on..)
Christophe:

Currently, players can choose between 16 hair styles, 8 hair colors, 32 head types, 16 skin colors and 8 eye colors. We might add more; this is just what we currently have. Facial and body tattoos, scaring and piercing will be available to players too.

MMORPG.com:
(Skeleton_Cav)
How many people are going to be chosen for the closed beta?
Christophe:

The initial tests will involve a very small select group of players, with additional invites to the community as we get closer to launch. pass each milestone.

MMORPG.com:
(Madjake)
Is it seamless, zones, or a mixture of both?
Christophe:

We dislike zone based games. This will be as seamless an experience as possible.

MMORPG.com:The trailer released with Newsletter 3 definitely drew in a lot of attention. Can we expect to see more movies of the game on a more frequent basis now?
Christophe:

This recent short movie was something we wanted to do for fun, but especially to reward our fans for their patience. I saw posts regarding the trailer, and we're honored that many liked it, but I'd like to rectify perhaps some misconceptions about it. The visuals are not pre-rendered or cooked in any way. The movie reflects actual current in-game interactions and game play as we intend it to be and as the current build is. We wanted to show a bit of what we have and give additional clues to the game and its artistic direction.

MMORPG.com:Speaking of the trailer, one of the most commonly overheard complaints about it is how the combat seems. Is that a good indication of how combat will actually be ingame or can we expect some changes? And if so, can you elaborate on them a little?
Christophe:

The combat shown in the trailer is only one style of combat, and as I said earlier is very much still a work in progress. Hand to hand combat is an area we are actively working to improve.

MMORPG.com:What kind of vehicle physics can we expect in the game? Something along the lines of Grand Theft Auto, with a "arcade" feel or something more realistic?
Christophe:

Vehicles will be important to the player as the game progresses, so we've spent a lot of time testing different solutions. We want the vehicles to seem realistic as long as that remains fun.

MMORPG.com:I'm really glad that it seems you're going with a controlled PvP system as opposed to an open system, which in most games just leads to ganking and griefing. Can you give us any further details of what type of system you'll be using? Even just a slight taste to whet our appetite?
Christophe:

There will be options for both styles of game play, PvP and non-PvP. We are very aware of the issues with each style of play, and plan to provide for either experience. At present we believe this may be best handled with separate servers, and optional PvP areas and options, but we plan to try different solutions during the testing period to see what works best.

MMORPG.com:Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add in closing that may not have been covered in the questions above?
Christophe:

While we hadn't intended to have this much public exposure yet, we sincerely appreciate the interest shown by the community. I answer all e-mails we receive at this time, there are quite a few hard core fans already preparing fan/clan sites all over the world. It's a great rewarding feeling for the whole team to see the momentum building.

We're really excited to show you more, but for the time being we need to keep a low profile until we get much closer to beta. For now, I want to thank all the people who have been sending us comments and suggestions. There are a lot of very experienced gamers out there posting and e-mailing a lot of good ideas. While we may seem silent, we are reading, and taking all those ideas to heart. :)

So thank you, MMORPG.com for your interest and thanks to the game community for your continued patience as we strive to make something really special and try to meet your expectations.

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