Questions by Rick Charbs, Onrpg writer
Answered by: Apostol Apostolov, Lead Game Designer
We at Onrpg were glad to hold an interview with Earthrise’s lead game designer, Apostol Apostolov. A game currently under development, Earthrise is sure to dazzle gamers with its unique crafting and player vs. player systems, with elements that render the game almost limitless. Get ready for an interesting gaming experience, as it is almost ready for the public: “…the [closed beta] sign up process starts at the end of December” explained Apostol.
Onrpg: Could you please briefly explain the setting of the game?
Apostol: Earthrise is set in the future, where the conflict for Earth’s remaining resources has led the most powerful ruling corporations into a self-destructive war that threatens civilization. Facing extinction of the human race, the western corporations funded the project Continoma, which was created to store human genome and memory matrix on the private Pacific island of Enterra. The Continoma project would make it possible to clone humans back to life when the conditions on the planet were habitable once again.
Centuries later, humans emerged from the depths of the cloning vaults to reclaim what once was lost, but are faced with the challenge of mutant threat that has taken over the island. As the survivors set foot firmly by pushing back against the mutants, they built the magnificent city of Sal Vitas and put all government control in the hands of the Continoma, a corporation bearing the name of the project that now promises to advance humanity and avoid the mistakes of the past.
Cloning became widespread and humanity met immortality. Fearing the government had been corrupted by the power it yielded, the opposition staged a coup that failed to achieve its goal but managed to unite the opposition together into a faction called Noir. Using guerilla tactics to weaken its opponent and sabotage its expansion across the island, Noir attempted to disrupt the actions of Continoma and weaken its grip on the citizens. Only after Noir achieved independence by stealing the secret of cloning, did they finally step up into the conflict.
Now, as the tension grows between the two sides, players emerge into the game world as newly cloned individuals, free to decide which side of the conflict to take on.
Onrpg: Could you please further explain the skill-based advancement system Earthrise will offer?
Apostol: Earthrise will allow players to freely develop their character the way they want, by giving them access to a range of combat, crafting and social skills. As players accumulate experience points through combat, manufacturing and maintenance of items and offline professions, they can use these points to unlock abilities, tactics, technologies and designs that allow them to become more a powerful warrior or influential crafter. No limitations exist to what skills players can invest their points in – given enough time and persistence players could theoretically unlock every skill in the game. Using every skill at once however is not possible, as their usage is highly dependent on the choice of armor and weaponry.
Onrpg: How strong is the PVP aspect of the game?
Apostol: Earthrise is built with Player vs Player as its core aspect. From the very start players will face the conflict between Continoma and Noir and will be given a chance to affiliate with either or neither side. That will not only provide him with a storyline and tasks to complete, but also encourage him to seek out and exterminate players of the opposing factions. This motivation will be represented not only with quest rewards but also the loot mechanic that allows players to partially or even fully loot their opponents that have failed to insure their property.
As characters group together into Guilds, they will enter a whole new level of PvP – the Concession Grounds, a vast portion of the island broken into contested territories that can be conquered, built up into profitable bases with many functions such as mining, manufacturing, and guild administration. Guilds will fight for control over these territories for many reasons, but the main being economic power – as some of the most powerful resources used to create the most wanted items originate from the Concession Grounds, Guilds in control of these territories will decide the fate of the world economy. With power comes rivalry as the more powerful guilds will face fierce opposition from everyone else not profiting from the production.
Onrpg: Character customization seems to be a priority in this title. What are the advantages of having no “class-restrictions” in the game?
Apostol: No class restrictions means that the player won’t need to start anew when he faces certain limitations of his character that hold him from enjoying fully the game experience. It makes no sense that a character cannot learn a new skill outside of his specialization the same way we do in real life – but he would be limited to using it depending on what gear and tools he has.
Learning most or even all the skills only allows a player to be more flexible and gives them more freedom to recreate any build he desires at any moment rather than create an unbeatable, ultimate killing machine that has no match. Players who keep learning more skills than they actually need for a single build are rewarded by the freedom to switch to another build in the future without having to restart and replay parts of the game that have already been done once.
Onrpg: A quite unique feature we have stumbled upon is the character progression feature. Player’s characters will continue to develop even when you aren’t logged in. How will this elaborate system function?
Apostol: Offline Professions are jobs that characters do for a living when not involved in online adventuring. We created Offline Professions in order to not penalize players that do not play constantly and see their time offline as lost opportunity to advance in the game and as a new way of revenue for the character to support their adventuring even if they are looted dry in a PvP combat. Players can learn Social skills and seek out Offline Professions openings throughout the Enterra island in order to get hired and earn both steady income and random rewards based on the type and grade of the profession. As a character works offline on his profession, he will accumulate Career Points that are invested in unlocking Social Skills, prerequisites for even better paying and more rewarding jobs. Only one character per account can have an Offline Profession.
Onrpg: Crafting is another important aspect of this game. To what extent can you customize your own items?
Apostol: Crafters are given unprecedented freedom and influence over the world economy in Enterra, to a point where no other game on the market today comes even close. In many games players can customize their items on their own and crafters simply supply the ingredients without giving players say in what items they can have access to and for what price. In Earthrise players cannot customize their equipment – instead, crafters have the freedom to create any type of items using template Technologies and Design enhancements and then decide what items will be made available to other players in a fully player-run economy. Crafters can advance technologies they are best suited to do, seek out new niches and provide equipment for them or advertise new types of weapons and armor that players have yet to find useful. Few other games make crafters so important that players will go to any length to seek them out and pay for their services.
Onrpg: What payment methods are you considering for the title? Will it require a monthly subscription?
Apostol: Earthrise will have monthly subscriptions. The player experience in the game is based on this concept. We want to put everyone on equal grounds and let them have access to everything in the game.
Onrpg: With a short glance at the official Earthrise website it is easy to come to the conclusion that you focus a great amount of your attention on the community, even before release. Why do you think keeping a tight knit community is so important during the development phase of the game?
Apostol: Absolutely! Fans feedback has been incredible from the start and we have studied and taken into consideration player desired features, ideas and suggestions as we developed different mechanics for the game. It is very important for every developer to know their audience and our forums have really helped us to get close to our future players and do our best in creating an exciting, satisfying game.
Onrpg: What is your favorite aspect of the game currently?
Apostol: It probably has to be crafting, as this is the direction where Earthrise explores one very undeveloped direction for the MMO genre. The combinations possible are truly endless and designing a system that allows players to shift the economy in a direction based on their own demand, rather than the expectations of the developer, puts us both in the role of the creator. Earthrise will allow the player to explore the system’s capabilities and every day find new uses and new possibilities for a smart crafter to make a big name and profit.
Onrpg: When do you plan for your first test release?
Apostol: If you mean closed beta, the sign up process starts at the end of December. After that we will start inviting players according to the testing needs of Earthrise.