GameOgre Interview: Atanas Atanasov - Producer of Earthrise/ Director of Masthead Studios GameOgre: For those who aren't familiar with Earthrise, can you give us an overview of the game and what it is all about? Atanas Atanasov: Earthrise is a post-apocalyptic science fiction MMORPG set in the distant future. After the Third World War, a few survivors came out of an underground facility to find that they are not alone in the world. A pacific tropical island named Enterra is their new home and they have to share it with dangerous mutants and new species that have evolved from the nuclear pollution. To worsen the situation, humanity is split once again between those who fight for order but try to exercise too much control, and those who fight for freedom and justice by all means. Simply put, it is a conflict between order and chaos, law and anarchy. In terms of gameplay, Earthrise is a skill-based PvP sandbox MMO in an open world environment. There are no instances and no limitations for players to develop their characters. They can learn all skills and abilities in the game with a limit only on the armor and weapons with which they are equipped. The game also features a unique crafting system, which is the backbone of the economy. Most of the loot that drops will be resources and components for crafting, and the best items in game will be player-created. Players will have the freedom to attack anyone they want to - they will not be limited by faction or guild restrictions. As Earthrise features open PvP, there are only a few safe havens for those who donâ€™t want to engage in PvP. Players will be able to loot items from other players if those items are not insured. Players who want to try something more compelling and flexible than a class-based fantasy MMO will find their place in Earthrise. GameOgre: What is the Backstory for Earthrise? Atanas Atanasov: Earthrise takes place after an Apocalypse. Humankind not only survived a treacherous war â€“ it thrived using cutting-edge advancements such as nanotechnology, quantum physics and memory storage. Even with the hostile, mutated environment that the first Pioneers encountered, humans managed to colonize the first landmass they discovered â€“ Enterra. When player-controlled characters arrive on the scene, humankind has become imprisoned by the technology that ensured its survival, with the settled island becoming a battlefield where the long-suppressed dark nature of man emerges to seed destruction and discord. In Earthrise, humans remain the top predators and main threat to themselves. GameOgre: Where did the inspiration for Earthrise come from? Atanas Atanasov: When we set upon creating the universe of Earthrise, we drew our inspiration from the basic idea of inventing a world that combines what all of us liked in the sci-fi genre. In this manner, Earthrise couldn't have been a typical post-apocalyptic world where humans try to make their living by scavenging the remains of the previous civilization. Earthrise also couldn't have been created as high sci-fi, where you are introduced to a world where the life is utopian and humans are only stopped by the limits of their imagination. We created a world of contrast, where players can drive a fast grav-car and wear a self-repairing protective suit, while taking down enemies with an old sawed-off shotgun and eating from 10-years-old cans of meat. We believe we've created a world where the illustrations of imagination, triumph and despair are true to life. Gameplay was mostly inspired by games such as Ultima Online, EVE Online and Tabula Rasa. We wanted to create something more interesting and challenging than a theme park fantasy MMO with a class-based system, offering the player a better experience that affords them more control. GameOgre: How is Earthrise setting itself apart from other Sci-Fi MMOs? Atanas Atanasov: The world of Earthrise is an open sandbox environment, which is rarely seen nowadays. Players will have the freedom to walk anywhere on the map. They will be able to learn all skills and only their choice of gear will limit their combat abilities. Most MMOs offer PvP in different forms, but there are always some limits such as instances or the inability to attack players from your race or same background. Earthrise will offer complete freedom for players to attack whomever they want and wherever they want. Only security zones will limit those possibilities, and such zones will cover less than five percent of the map. Crafting will be a major feature in Earthrise, with the best items in the game being produced by players. Most items can be disassembled into smaller usable parts for crafting. Territory conquest is a feature that some MMOs offer only as instances. In Earthrise, we are going a step further by enabling a complete open territory conquest experience. Guilds and large groups of players will be able to take control of parts of the world and build economic or military structures there, just like they can in strategy games. When there is a fight for a certain territory, everyone can join in and try to capture the territory. Imagine several guilds engaged in a free-for-all fight, when not only the strongest, but also the smartest, of the guilds can win and take control of that territory. This will all occur in real time. GameOgre: With no levels or classes in Earthrise, can you explain how characters will advance and grow within the game? Atanas Atanasov: There are two types of skills in Earthrise â€“ combat skills and crafting skills. Players can learn new skills by investing the combat or crafting points that they have earned inside the game. Combat points can be earned by killing monsters and completing quests, while crafting points can be earned by guess what â€“ crafting. When players have enough points to buy their next crafting skill or ability, the process is very simple â€“ there is an interface window which lists all available combat and crafting skills, where players select and buy them. Players can learn all combat and crafting skills in Earthrise but their available special attacks or abilities can be used only if they are equipped with the right gear. GameOgre: How will the crafting system in Earthrise work and can you tell us about some of the professions you can choose? Atanas Atanasov: The crafting system in Earthrise is split into different processes - recycling of scraps and parts, disassembling different products, processing of ingredients and consumables, designing of blueprints and production of useful, final items. Almost every item in the game comes from crafting and the whole economy and combat system is aimed at conquering territories and supplying resources to the guild and friendly crafters. Raw resources are derived from recycling of scraps, conquering territories and clearing mines. Those resources are put into use by crafters, where the more qualitative resources are in bigger demand. The quality of resources and ingredients is the key in making a better final product. The crafter himself can raise that quality, if he uses the best factory for the product, but first he needs to know where that factory is, and second, how to reach it. The most valuable factories are heavily defended by creatures and bandits, protected by other players, or are very hard to reach. In other words, the best crafters should not only have the skill, but the knowledge of the world and friends for escort and protection. Everyone can be a crafter, and almost never leave his city. The crafter wonâ€™t be able to make the best products, but itâ€™s still his choice. Same goes for the crafting professions â€“ they are not strict and set in stone as in other games. We give the player the freedom to choose whatever he wants to be, without limiting him in any way. He can be a gun crafter, a designer, or just a recycler. GameOgre: I understand that Earthrise is giving, in a sense, a new purpose to PVP, can you elaborate on this? Atanas Atanasov: Most of the PvP mechanics in Earthrise are not something new to the genre if looked at separately. Their combination is what makes the Earthrise PvP system unique. Imagine an open world with no instances, where players can attack everyone and have a chance to get the uninsured items off of their victim; a world where players can join a random PvP conflict wherever and whenever they want; a crafting system that relies on PvP for extraction of the rarest resources on the market. What I mean is that those crafting resources will come from economic buildings in the Contested Territories, which, as you already know, are captured through PvP. GameOgre: Can you tell us a bit about the fighting mechanics or combat systems in Earthrise? Atanas Atanasov: We wanted to develop a combat environment where brutal close-quarter fighting and violent crossfire meets the high-tech equipment produced in the factories of Enterra. Our combat system provides players with the option to experience and acquire different sets of skills and gear that define their characters in combat. Our greatest wish is that players have the freedom to experiment and find a build that suits their game style. Possible combat skill combinations are so numerous that Earthrise will be among the top MMOs offering such variety. The actual combat system was reworked in the past year based on feedback that we received after showing some alpha footage in the Spring of 2009. Earthrise features dynamic targeting, resembling a third-person shooter. There are automatic weapons that will shoot without any interruption and each weapon type has different characteristics, such as three types of shooting ranges, different targeting cursors and different effects applied on the target. GameOgre: With subscription-based games becoming less popular, how do you plan to show players that a subscription and Earthrise is the way to go? Atanas Atanasov: There is a trend for some MMOs to become free to play, which is not really the case. I think that players who like to experience all aspects of gameplay and obtain the best items in free to play games end up paying more than what they pay for subscription-based games. There is real competition when players are put on equal grounds. A 100 meter run in the athletics competition lines everyone on a straight line at the start. Every football game starts with equal number of players in the field. A subscription-based game puts players on level ground by giving them all access to the whole world and every game feature. We want to make sure that every player in Earthrise will be treated equally and there will not be paying and non-paying players, players with purchased gear and players with free gear. Earthrise is an all-inclusive title, pay once and enjoy everything thatâ€™s included.