Earthrise Interview on Guilds and Territory Conquest

Scanning the horizon for upcoming MMO releases, one title that stands out from the crowd is Masthead Studios’ Earthrise which will offer a distinctly sandbox approach to gameplay. While...
Scanning the horizon for upcoming MMO releases, one title that stands out from the crowd is Masthead Studios’ Earthrise which will offer a distinctly sandbox approach to gameplay. While a compelling PvE setting will certainly be present, it’s the title’s open PvP and player-driven economy that take center stage, offering players true control over their experience in the game to a degree rarely seen in today’s market.

Hot on the heels of our recent VIP interview, Ten Ton Hammer took the opportunity to speak with lead game designer Apostol Apostolov to delve deeper into certain aspects of guilds, resource gathering and territory control in Earthrise.

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Ten Ton Hammer: Could you explain how zone control in Earthrise will work? For example, when a guild takes over a specified area in the game do they retain control until a rival guild challenges their holdings, or will there be any kind of time limit imposed before the area is essentially “up for grabs” again?

Apostol: Territory Conquest is all about actual player control over small, important parts of the game world rather than a timed advantage. When a guild takes over a territory, if they can provide the cooperation and coordination needed to ensure a strong defense, they could keep control for long enough to make a sizable dent in the world’s economy.

Ten Ton Hammer: Once a zone has been captured by a given guild, will it remain open to attack from outsiders at any time, or will there be specific windows (player created or otherwise) in which it becomes vulnerable to attack?

Apostol: In order to allow for guilds to maintain control over their territories, we will provide flexible protection against outsider attacks at any time. We are currently in extended internal testing of different solutions and we will chose the one that benefits both sides of the equation without putting too much strain on a guild to protect their territories.

Ten Ton Hammer: In Ten Ton Hammer’s recent VIP interview, you touched on some of the ways resources will be gathered in Earthrise. With some of the rare resources in particular, will they be spread out over numerous controllable zones to help prevent a single guild from claiming too much control over the market value?

: Each controllable territory will allow guilds to mine only a subset of all rare resources available in the world. Guilds will be encouraged to carefully plan the resource market they want to enter and how their territories conquest plan will be laid out in order to gain an advantage. Still, it is possible for very powerful guilds or guild alliances to gain control over the majority of certain resource productions and manipulate it to its own advantage, although not enough to take the server’s economy out of balance.

One Big Gun

Ten Ton Hammer: Will there be special crafting facilities that players will need access to in order to create items - specifically with Manufacturing, though this could apply to the Design process as well – or will the system allow for a certain amount of autonomy?
Apostol: Realistically, high-tech gadgets and equipment do not require facilities such as factories or construction terminals in order for crafters to turn construction parts into a usable item. Crafting won’t be autonomous or allowed just anywhere in the game world, although some field actions such as repair won’t require facilities (still, facilities will be an option that provides superior services). Players will have a wide choice of factories, each equipped with various production units required by technologies (a.k.a. crafting recipes). Crafters need to choose from all available Factories that support the type of item they want to create, and then plan which of those locations would give them the best chance to come up with superior production. A lot other choices are involved too such as security, logistical problems (distance, enemy territory, etc.).

Ten Ton Hammer: Recently you addressed community concerns that combat might not be as fast-paced as had been envisioned. Could you talk about some of the fine tuning you’ve been doing to the combat mechanics to help keep the pace faster or more fluid?

Apostol: The early builds that have been shown to the public are still using early stable, but unpolished, combat system. A lot of changes have been made in both the underlying system and the visual presentation of combat. Many weapons have been bumped up in speed while others are getting a visual punch with spectacular effects.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will Earthrise have any type of live events that might encourage participation in certain aspects of the game, or are the current plans to essentially let the players themselves define the course of events on the island of Enterra?

Apostol: The moment the first players walk on the island of Enterra on the launch date and time, they will encounter a sleeping economy in crisis under the mutant attacks that have cut down resource mining facilities. Players will have to “unlock” the resource market on their own and work together – from newbies to eventual end-game players alike – to keep the prices low and resources abundant. Then players will proceed to gain power and gather in guilds in order to have the manpower to take over the first conquest territories that will unlock the first mass mining flow of rare resources that will bump the technological tree forward. Players who come to Earthrise early will be able to experience a lot of initial development that on later date will step back to allow for developer-ran live events.

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Ten Ton Hammer: How extensive will the guild UI be? Will there be any special tools to help larger groups coordinate their efforts for things such as resource gathering, or setting up times to attack rival guilds etc?

Apostol: Guild UI is built on a scalable concept that allows simple, unobtrusive growth of features and additions from the very start. It’s early to say too much else about it but we will provide all of the basic features that players are used to, with an extensive ranking system with privileges that will give guilds the ability to build their own social infrastructure of their members.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will guilds be able to have a unifying symbol or color scheme that identifies them as part of a larger whole? Also, would this be handled through armor customization options, or will there be any special items such as tabards or flags that will achieve this effect?

Apostol: Guilds will be able to customize their weapons and armor via the crafting system, although the exact method is still in development.

Ten Ton Hammer: How extensive would you say the tutorial in Earthrise is? Will players unaccustomed to the freedom synonymous with ‘sandbox’ gameplay have an easy transition into the game, or will they need to fend for themselves fairly early on?

Apostol: Earthrise’s tutorial is very extensive, although fully optional. It encourages players to go beyond just learning basic controls and getting hold of the game. It will give them a taste of some of the signature skills and abilities of all Skills in the game before they make their own choice. We like to think of it as the “orientation zone” for players to make their skill choices prior to entering the main island territory.

Ten Ton Hammer: From the images we’ve seen of Earthrise so far, there truly are some horrifically mutated monsters scampering around Enterra, suggesting a fairly rich PvE experience. Will players be able to advance purely through PvE gameplay or will a certain amount of PvP be necessary at some point? Alternately, will advancement purely through PvP be possible?

Apostol: Players will be able to advance from the start to the end solely on PvE experience, although avoiding PvP in a PvP-centric game would be a difficult thing to pull off. While PvE will concentrate on providing the comfortable minimum needed to advance to the ranks of end-game veterans, the lure of being able to loot others (and the harsh realization of being looted yourself) will be very hard to resist for most players. As for advancement solely on PvP, such players might need to do some PvE in order to develop their skills.

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