Achievements, Apps and Beyond - An Exclusive Fallen Earth VIP Interview
For our latest VIP outing, Ten Ton Hammer recently paid a visit to Icarus Studios to speak with the devs behind the post-apocalyptic powerhouse, Fallen Earth. Joining us for the interview were Senior Game Designer Marie Croall, Lead Environment Artist Cory Farris, Lead Scripter Michael Broadwater, Marketing Manager Jessica Orr and last but certainly not least, Media Specialist Tricia Jenkins. With an all star lineup like that, you know this is one VIP interview you won't want to miss!
Premium membership at Ten Ton Hammer is definitely packed with some awesome perks. One of the most popular among them is our exclusive VIP Interview series where we let our members strap on their interview caps and provide us with questions for the devs of their favorite MMOGs. The following interview consists of questions submitted by Ten Ton Hammer readers with additional questions provided by resident wastelander Reuben "Sardu" Waters.
Achievements and the Upcoming iPhone App
By and large one of the coolest things we saw when Ten Ton Hammer made the trek to Boston for the first official PAX East was the upcoming iPhone app for Fallen Earth. Apparently we weren't the only ones impressed by what the team had to show us:
Premium Member Tregok asked: Are you any closer to releasing the apps?
Media Specialist Tricia Jenkins: The app itself is pretty much finalized, we're just working on the pricing model and what we want that to be if anything. We're still expecting [the release] to be within the next couple of months.
Premium Member Rocqu asked: I know you're in the middle of development for the iPhone app. Will you be offering other mobile versions, for instance, the mobile 6.5 or Android?
Tricia Jenkins: [AFK Interactive] is working on Android, Blackberry, Java and BREW phones, and we're still hoping for a simultaneous launch.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will the new achievement system be something that players will be able to access through the app once it's ready to unleash on the masses?
Tricia Jenkins: Not in this first launch, no, since achievements are so new.
Senior Game Designer Marie Croall: Achievements came together really quickly. They were not on the board when we started the iPhone app. Even when the iPhone development was well underway we didn't have a sense of achievements yet.
Tricia Jenkins: But we do plan to update the iPhone app so I'm sure that's something that down the line we could add.
When launched, the Fallen Earth iPhone app will offer players true mobile interaction with their in-game characters.
Ten Ton Hammer: Since achievements are one of the newest features for Fallen Earth, could you give our readers a brief overview of how that system works and the types of things players can look forward to with it?
Marie Croall: There are 5 different categories of achievements. “Crafter” is really what it sounds like. As you level up your crafting you get achievements for that.
“Explorer” is really neat. There are these little tourist telescopes like the ones at the Statue of Liberty that are actually a model and they're in the world, and you can go and click on them. Some of them are in very hard to reach places, and some of them are in towns and they're all sort of weighted differently but are really in almost every location in the game, including some that I didn't even anticipate. They're labeled for how difficult they are, and there are some that are in just crazy ridiculous locations.
Lead Environment Artist Cory Farris: It's going to take players a while to find all of these I'm pretty sure.
Marie Croall: It's really fun. The day they went in we were testing it and it was like, hey, what's this? I got an achievement!
There are also gambling achievements. Sadly I get the ones for losing chips. And then there are also some that reward people for doing story content. Really everyone is going to get achievements.
Lead Scripter Michael Broadwater: You get achievements for earning AP, for earning money, for killing things that you're already going to kill. And really, we've found that everybody likes achievements.
Ten Ton Hammer: Does the achievement system offer players any kind of tangible rewards for completing some of the more difficult ones?
Marie Croall: There will be soon. We don't have them in yet but there is a full plan for them.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will there be a way to share your overall score with other players?
Marie Croall: The score right now is one of those things that we're still in the process of identifying what it's going to mean overall. I think a lot of that comes down to seeing what players are doing and how fast they're earning them, because the score needs to be meaningful to them.
It's sort of like Deathtoll. We introduced a number and then the players went out and did stuff with it, and then we looked at things and said, oh, they’ve told us that we need to do something different. So rather than implement a system that's going to change upon player contact it's a lot smarter to hang back, and see what players do with it. Then we can say, alright, the average player has got 5,000 points, so now we know that 10,000 is awesome.
Michael Broadwater: It's like Blood Sports with the ranking and the leaderboards. We could build every potential, possible thing we want to do with it and then put that out, or we can start giving people Blood Sport arenas now and from there start giving them these new features. So we can either give you a huge meal in a year, or we can give you smaller courses over time. And we'd much rather give people that course over time so that they're not waiting and looking around for something to do.
So we can say here are achievements. Can you do anything with them yet? Well, right now you can earn them. Next time then maybe you can share achievements. Next time achievements can do X, Y and Z.
Marie Croall: The reward system will mostly likely be next. The system is built in, but we just need to see what the best way to implement it is. Fixing Deathtoll really cleared up a lot of what we can do. It's really amazing - our post-launch content is so much better because we know what players want. We learn. Whatever we come out with after Deadfall is going to be better than Deadfall. Here's the thing, Sector 1 is the worst sector we will ever do, it has to be just by default because it's the first one we did. Then there's stuff that we learned in Sector 2 that we got to implement in Sector 3. Sector 4 is going to be so awesome because Deadfall achieved this level that now we can do.
Player Housing and Future Plans
Prairie Chicken – It’s what’s for dinner!
Premium Member Rocqu asked: I know player housing has been talked about in the past. Do you still have it on the board for development down the road?
Marie Croall: I've got to answer this one as frankly and honestly as I can. We went from 110 people to 35 so I can tell you as honestly as I can that everything is still on the schedule, but that schedule just got a lot longer. We've got to do what we can with the people we have. We have an amazing level designer, but the emphasis is on the fact that there is only one Cory. Now, until I can clone him... and even that might not work out the way I intended because one of them is probably want to go to the beach or be with his family and all that stuff.
Cory Farris: Or talk weird and not be able to form a proper sentence.
Marie Croall: Or the Cory that keeps running into the wall by the door. But seriously, until we can figure out where we're at, all of that stuff is pretty much in limbo.
Michael Broadwater: We're still going to make new things and we're still going to put out new content, but some of these big features like housing we've got to reevaluate but we still want to do them.
Marie Croall: There's a lot we want to do, but it would be so irresponsible for us to say yes, but it would also be irresponsible if we said no. We just don't know. These are huge features, but [housing] is still on the schedule; we haven't cancelled anything. We'll see how things go.
Premium Member Rocqu asked: Now that the Blood Sports update is set for release, what's next for Fallen Earth?
Marie Croall: Assault! After that feature-wise, there are a couple of things on the table. At this point we do sort of get the opportunity to sort of look at all the features we had planned and figure out what is best for us. There are a couple of things that would be easier to implement that I think would be really fast and would be really easy to do with the team we have. Something that might rhyme with “fast travel” could be on the table, so something along those lines that's a system that we have a lot of the tools in place for.
Ten Ton Hammer: I'd imagine you'll also be watching how players react to Blood Sports and tweaking that system if needed as well.
Cory Farris: My favorite thing that I've seen since we pushed Deathmatch and Survival to the PTS is that there are actually two player made YouTube videos about Deathmatch that are really well made. That sort of gives me a small window into how players are playing the content that we're giving them. The more of that type of stuff that we see as feedback from the community, I think the better we'll be able to tweak the content after release.
Marie Croall: One of those videos came out after we released the Bridge and we got to see how players were playing the game, and there was a guy who could solo what we thought at the time was massively tough group content. We looked at that and were like, “we’ve got to get to work”. So videos like that are good because we can actually see what people are doing and it's not just a guy posting on the forums, “Lolz I pwnd your boss!” So once we see those videos, or the PvP videos are so awesome, because you can actually see what they’re doing. You can see what players are doing, if they're exploiting or if they're being exploited, so that kind of feedback is really helpful.
Cory Farris: Now that Blood Sports is out and a large part of this patch is a PvP patch, one of the things we want to do is assure people who are PvE centric that there's a lot of content there for them too.
Marie Croall: Next time we'll probably do something that's weighted more heavily towards PvE, but this time PvP just needed a big old hug. Plus Blood Sports is just an awesome name.
Community and Fansite Support
Premium Member Rocqu asked: When will you be offering an online store for swag? Tee-shirts, mugs etc. I would love to see some kind of parody items making fun of elves.
Marketing Manager Jessica Orr: The first step in that whole mix is basically just to expand our web capabilities in terms of store options and stuff. We've got some plans for a web refresh coming up soon. It's a little ways out still yet, but it is something that we want to do eventually.
Rocqu also asked: Many fansites have been created since Fallen Earth’s release. What, if anything, do you have in store to help keep these sites viable and help them help you get more subs?
Jessica Orr: We're actually trying to implement some processes to work with those guys a little bit more. Actually just yesterday we added a section on the web page where all their sites and links and stuff are showcased, and we've also added that stuff to the forums. We're trying to basically go through some social media tools and give those guys some props, and we had talked about essentially doing a rotation where we'd promote a different fansite each week through Facebook and Twitter and just drive some traffic there.
I mean, it is a lot of work on their part and we do appreciate it because there are some things that we can’t say about our game, but they can say it for us. And the kind of information they provide is extensive.
Marie Croall: And some of them are just gorgeous.
Cory Farris: GlobalTech ATLAS.
Marie Croall: Yes, GlobalTech Atlas, we should definitely mention that guy. It's so impressive with the maps and everything...
Michael Broadwater: It's not like I haven't used that site before.
Cory Farris: It's actually more impressive than our own wiki in some aspects.
Jessica Orr: I remember the day GlobalTech Atlas came out when the NDA was lifted, all of us were sitting back in the content room and nobody was saying a word because we were all just scrolling through it.
Michael Broadwater: Not only did it have all of this information, but it was all right.
Cory Farris: The level maps for every level in the game are on that site.
Jessica Orr: So it's extensive, and they've worked really hard to do it and we definitely want to give credibility to that, and we definitely want to include them as much as we possibly can. We've got some other ideas just in terms of adding their main contact into our press list so that they get news exactly when it's released and things like that, that are more perks to being in that small network than just giving them a little bit of credibility by being on the website and stuff like that so we're starting to roll that stuff out.
Ten Ton Hammer would like to thank Cory, Jessica, Marie, Michael, Tricia and the rest of the Fallen Earth team for taking the time to sit down with us. We would also like to thank our premium members for submitting their questions to be used in this interview!