Updated Fri, May 07, 2010 by Sardu
One of the recurring statements you see whenever an announcement of this type occurs is that the remaining team is simply in “survival mode”.
Senior Game Designer Marie Croall explained, “Here’s the thing. We have always been a scrappy little startup. Our philosophy is “make it work with what you have” and that has not changed. When we had a full staff we’d come in and ask can we do this? Well, we have the tech so let’s make it work with what we already have.
We had our first big “what’s next?” planning meeting on Monday. You know, things went bad and we came in ready to work and ready to figure things out, like patch 1.4 is on Friday, so what’s next? Because we’re “what’s next?” people.
There’s no such thing as survival – survival is dead. We’re sharks, we keep moving. I don’t want to make light of what happened or to trivialize the fact that there are fewer of us, but we’re awesome so we’re going to make it work. Every company goes through this. It’s never easy to hear, and MMO fans are fickle and they panic. I know because I’m one of them.”
Lead Scripter Michael Broadwater also noted, “I don’t think anybody here is in survival mode. Everybody here is in “make the game awesome” mode. Nobody in this company that I work with that I’ve talked to, and I’ve talked to everybody, wants to maintain stasis. That’s not what we want for this game; we want to continually improve it, not just sit around and say “well we’ve got bugs so let’s just fix the bugs.” We want to add new features. You can’t just “survive.”
A big concern with many current players seems to be, I’m paying a monthly subscription fee but is there going to be something new for me in the game 3 or 4 months down the road? In other words, is my subscription fee going to be contributing to further development on the game, or simply helping to maintain the status quo for as long as possible?
That said, with the release of patch 1.4 this Friday, a question on many player’s minds is what’s next for Fallen Earth?
”The first thing will be [the Blood Sport map] Assault” said Marie, who continued, “After that there are a couple of things on the table. We do get to sort of look at all the features we had planned and figure out what is best for us. Endgame content for us is obviously not going to look the same as it does for other games. We have some plans in place that would require minimal time, or maximum time with minimal people is probably a better way to put that.
Here’s the thing: we went from 110 people to 35. So I can tell you honestly that everything is still on the development schedule, but that schedule just got a lot longer. We’re still trying to figure out who we are, where we’re at and what we can do with the core staff. The game is still here, we promised a lot and we still want to deliver it. Our intention is to deliver it, but we’ve got to do what we can with the people that we have."
Marketing Manager Jessica Orr went on to explain, “The other thing about it too is that every time we make a major round of changes that could potentially affect the entire dynamic of the game – like before we sat down and said ok I know we’ve changed some things with PvP - we need to address some issues that people have with these parts of the game. At that point it was very obvious to us through some of the reviews we were getting, through forum posts, and what the clans were telling us, that a change needed to be made. And I think one of the things we’ve done really well is after each change we have a time where the team reflects on what’s just happened. We figure out how did that change the dynamic, what’s missing, and what’s left.
So I think like what we’ve done in the past it’s still pretty normal for us to regroup and figure out if there are things that stem from this that we didn’t expect that we need to readdress. Or, can we go ahead and proceed with what we have on the schedule?
I think in all evenness I know we’ve talked about what’s next on the schedule and how we’re going to handle it with the team size, and obviously that is something difficult to consider in terms of planning. We obviously have to be even smarter with our resources than we were before, but we also know that it’s a huge concern for our community right now, that they’re afraid that we’re going to let this patch go and that we’re going to sit on it. Or that we’re just going to go into maintenance mode and we’re just going to keep cruising and that the servers are going to stay on as long as we have subscription numbers adequate enough to hold it. And just for the record that is not the case.
It’s the kind of thing that’s more difficult than it was, but that doesn’t mean that we’re any less determined. And rightly so I don’t blame players for asking that question at all. It’s going to be difficult with resources, but I think that we’re a smart team and we’re ready for the challenge.”
“We have the right people for the challenge” Marie added. “Everybody that we have is really good at identifying what the core issues are and making it work with limited resources. Plus we’re awesome.”